Therapy is a marvelous, courageous journey of hope and healing, the re-discovery of our true selves. Like Picasso’s bull series, we strip the layers off, layers of thought distortions, anger, resentment, shame, fear, and hurt, bringing ourselves to our true essence, the fiercely, wonderfully made person we were always meant to be, and still are. Even though bad things may have happened to us, or we may have caused harms to others, our past does not have to define or doom us. We are not victims of bad brain wiring.
We can change our brains and ourselves for the better through examining our scripts. Where did we get those scripts, do we subscribe to those beliefs, and if not, as is often the case, changing them through changing our thinking processes and behaviors. We examine hurts of the past with our current wiser selves, speaking our truths, and examining the events with our adult minds. We learn to believe and trust in ourselves, moving, as Henri Nouwen says, from loneliness to solitude. We then learn to truly trust others, from this newfound knowledge and trusting the process, building healthy intimacy, of being truly known by another and truly knowing them.
This also applies to couples’ work. Too often, couples throw in the towel way too soon. Many relationships could have been saved just by both parties being willing to change how they see themselves, each other, and how they converse with each other. In therapy, as a couple, they also strip off the years of hurt and misunderstandings, misconstruings, resentments, and regrets. By being open, learning to deepen the understanding of each other, and even of themselves, having those deeper conversations, exploring the past hurts, they build a new, deeper, more rewarding intimacy with each other. No longer is conflict me-against-you; it becomes us-against -a-problem. The work can be hard, but it leads to a richer, deeper, more passionate intimacy than either one could have dreamed of alone.
In both cases, we learn who we are in relationship with another person, whether it is our therapist, or our partner, or our friends. We do not learn who we are alone and isolated. John Bowlby had it right all along – it is all about healthy attachment.