I want to talk about investing, and I don't mean investing money.
I feel like that’s the knee-jerk reaction that most of us have when we hear the word “investing,” and I think it’s pretty common and understandable why we would think that way. Because, when we think about investing money, it’s easy to quantify in dollars and cents. We buy something it costs x amount of dollars, we get whatever it is that thing is.
But recently, I was challenged to assign a value to therapy. How much is it worth to you to go to a therapy session? How much would you pay for this, basically.
I was just told to think about it. And so I did. And it’s been really confusing to me.
When i think about the way I spend my money, I generally won’t spend money on myself, hardly ever. I don’t often buy myself new clothes. If I have a pair of shoes, I’ll wear those shoes until I can’t really wear them anymore and they're completely uncomfortable, rather than getting myself a pair of shoes a little bit sooner.
It’s important to me, and I think it’s important to a lot of people, to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.
When you go to a restaurant, you go in with the expectation that you’re going to order food that you like. You’re going to get that meal— hopefully it’s delicious and you leave feeling full and satisfied. And if you do, you probably feel like it was worth your money.
When it comes to therapy, I feel like it’s a lot trickier to sum up that experience, especially when you’re not exactly sure what it is you’re trying to get out of that therapy session. And, I thought, that after 10 years of therapy as a kid, I should have the tools to handle my anxiety and my OCD on a day-to-day basis by myself.
That was not the case.
I needed somebody else’s perspective on a regular basis because I was stuck inside my own head. I started going back to therapy, and 2 years ago I joined a group therapy session. The challenge, or the question, of quantifying the monetary value of a therapy session- I didn’t have an answer. To be honest with you, I still don’t have an answer, and I think I kind of understand why that is so difficult.
Like I said, when you go to a restaurant, you know exactly what you’re getting and what you’re paying for. You can basically decide by the end of that meal whether or not you’ve gotten your money’s worth. With therapy, it is a totally different experience- it’s not something tangible. The way you feel mentally is a lot harder to gauge sometimes than the way you feel physically.
If your stomach hurts, your stomach hurts. And generally, people understand a stomach ache or a headache, or any kind of physical body pain. But when it comes to mental health and the way you’re feeling inside your own mind, I don’t really know that anybody can fully understand how any other person feels.
You may think you can, and you can try your best to empathize with other people, and people may try to empathize with you. But really, you generally experience things in a very unique way that’s based on your own past experience. It’s unique to you, and going to therapy is another experience that’s unique to you.
When I go to therapy, especially group therapy, I am constantly trying to bring something to the group. I feel like I have to contribute something and be a “good member” of the group. I think that a lot of us feel good when we can help other people. At the same time, I don’t always find it easy to go to a group like that with the mindset that, I'm going to take something. I think it’s because I'm afraid that I will feel selfish by doing that.
There’s a very fine line between doing something and extending yourself for other people so that they can feel good or feel better, and doing those things at your own expense— ignoring your own personal needs, and whatever it is that you are truly craving.
I think it’s easy to overlook those things because sometimes, we generally aren't really sure what it is that we need, or what it is that we want from a certain situation or experience. And when we don’t, the easiest thing to do is to deflect that and turn it into, or focus our attention on other people. Living vicariously through the reactions that we get from people: If I can make somebody else feel good, or feel better then by default that will make me feel good or feel better.
But, that may not necessarily be what it is that we need.
It may be the only way we know how to focus our attention, because we don’t have an answer for ourselves.
In trying to assign a monetary value to therapy, I generally like to have an answer to these kinds of things. I really don’t have an answer and it drives me crazy, but it’s the truth. What is important is not so much finding an answer, but to be aware that there is value in investing in yourself.
I don’t think that’s something that a lot of people know how to do for themselves. I know I have a hard time doing it. It’s because I'm afraid that I'll feel selfish. But when it comes down to it, we all need to do things for ourselves.
We need to take care of ourselves because if we don’t, the things that we do for others, or try to do for others will eventually suffer. You may be able to sustain a certain level of helpfulness for other people for a period of time, but if it’s coming at your own expense, over time, what you’re going to be able to give to other people is going to suffer— in addition to you yourself suffering.
It’s important to try to figure out being conscious of the things that you need, and the things that you can do to take care of yourself and invest in yourself. It’s a really important thing to do. You may not find a definitive answer- again, I don’t have an answer for this. It’s something that i’m continuously finding as a challenge.
Doing something for yourself is not a selfish thing, especially if you are able to balance out helping other people and helping yourself. Finding ways to ask other people to help take care of us when we can’t necessarily do that for ourselves because sometimes, we can’t. I’m finding that I need to take care of myself, and its very hard for me to ask somebody for something that I need. It takes a lot of energy mentally for me to do that, and it brings me a lot of anxiety to do that because there’s this constant fear of being perceived as being selfish.
But you need to take care of yourself. I need to take care of myself. Everybody needs to take care of their own selves, some of the time.
That’s why therapy is important, and that’s the value in therapy that I don’t think you can assign a number to, in terms of monetary value. The value of therapy is not a tangible thing. It’s finding ways to ask for the help that you need, and finding ways to take care of yourself, and asking other people to help you take care of yourself because people can help you do that.
So, if you’re struggling to figure out what it is you need for yourself, don’t give up on that. Keep thinking about it. Keep trying to find ways to take care of yourself and ways to express to other people when you need to be cared for because that’s a really important thing. And as much as people might want to assign a monetary value to it, sometimes you just can’t. Sometimes it’s just really about taking time for yourself and asking for that help.
I hope that this was insightful and helpful. If you have any thoughts about this I'd love to hear them. Take care of yourself.
How do you invest in yourself?
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