Recently a client said to me they read something online, “Are you still fighting your demons or have you embraced them?” It was disturbing to my client because they realized in many ways what they thought was coping was actually a defense mechanism to continue maladaptive behaviors.
I am not a DBT therapist, but there are many concepts of DBT that I appreciate and pass onto clients. One of which is embracing the opposite behavior. When one feels they can’t get out of bed dialectics would say, do exactly the opposite of that behavior. Get out of bed. Commit to getting out of bed. It may be painful but that is an aside. Focus only on getting out of bed.
We all have demons and we all have dark holes that we wish we could just crawl into and never leave. What is it that allows you to crawl out of the dark and into the light? I have seen time and again in my clients that hope is sometimes all that get us through each minute and each hour.
What is hope? “A feeling of expectation for a certain thing to happen. A feeling of trust. A feeling of desire for something to happen.”
I would add to this definition and say, a feeling of trust that something we desire will happen. Human beings often have trust in the world or fate or God or whatever higher power you believe in, that something better will come. That the depression will ease, the anxiety will improve, that love will enter dark spaces.
Therapy unfortunately tends to lead clients through dark spaces, but it is with the intention of reaching the light on the other side. Harnessing hope through therapy can be incredibly powerful to witness and experience. I always tell clients, it may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. I’ve had people tell me they hate coming to see me every week, but they still show up. Because on the other end, they do see improvement in their lives.
The idea of therapy is not just to work through problems and past trauma. The goal of therapy is to heal and to feel hope that today will be a better day.
To quote one of my heroes, Martin Luther King Jr.
“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose the courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today, I still have a dream.”
I like to think of therapy as helping guide people back to their own vitality and courage. Hope lives in us all, some people just need help accessing it.