9 Ways to Help Yourself When You Can’t Afford Therapy
Because money shouldn't get in the way of seeking help
It would be a colossal waste of my time, and yours, if I were to tell you the various benefits therapy could reap for your wellbeing and mental health.
But one needs to proceed with a trial-and-error approach when it comes to finding the right therapist-client fit.
Moreover, to be honest, therapy is expensive. So, if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I can't afford therapy but I need it” here is a list of things to do instead of therapy:
1. Get out of your own mind
For sure, this sounds like an obvious thing to do. But the question that arises is, how do you break the cycle of negative thoughts that drain you?
Accept the fact that it is okay to have problems, and that it doesn’t make you less than. Don’t be harsh on yourself and stop making judgements about your personality based on your feelings.
Take on the responsibility of your emotions, but don’t take on the guilt.
When you find yourself repeatedly being critical of who you are, and drawing rather insulting conclusions from there, that’s when you know you need to stop.
It's OK to feel lonely but It's not OK to stamp yourself as unlovable.
2. Be transparent about your authentic needs and desires
Get in touch with who you really are. Observe whether your actions are consistent with your needs.
Fear often keeps us from growing, it stops us from being our most authentic self. We end up suppressing our own talents to fit a box.
That suffocation over time leads to dissociation of the self and feeds our insecurities. (Definitely, do not want to do that. Big no-no.)
Find out what makes you, you. What would Bani do in this situation? Form your own rules, build your own character, do things uniquely.
3. Own your feelings, Disown everything else*
*Before you point your finger at me, hear me out. Your feelings are valid. You’ve felt them, and they’re your own. But we don’t just stop there.
We attach ourselves to our bad day, to a bad relationship, to our bad grades. And that is where we need to learn to let go and to know that we do not own these people, experiences and things.
Whatever happens in your life, is not a part of you. It is just meant to be an experience to learn from. Don’t let those experiences control you.
4. Do not compromise your needs
This one is similar to point #2. You have to define your own boundaries and thresholds. What is acceptable by you? What kind of people are you willing to allow into your life? How do you want to present yourself to the world? It could be anything that you wish to decide on your own terms.
Because, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
The minute you give up your own rules, you hand over the key to your happiness to someone else.
While in some cases, it may be okay to bend your rules a little, based on certain situations and people in your life. But other times, giving someone else that power leaves you with little to no control over your own emotions.
Be careful of who you let into your life, and set your own ground rules for your comfort and happiness. The right kind of people will always understand.
5. The treasure is not outside
We live and breathe an invisible and unending marathon in our minds. A marathon that by its virtue instructs us that we will only be happy when _______.
I’m not saying that this isn’t a driving force, or that it is bad to be ambitious. But most often than not, the blank space above is filled with a materialistic goal.
The problem with that is, that a materialistic goal will never be satisfying or good enough.
It is bound to leave you insatiable.
Even worse is when this goal is with regard to someone else’s goals or achievements. When that happens, you have truly surrendered yourself to this never-ending race.
Now you are no longer striving for what brings you happiness. Rather you are striving for what you think might bring you happiness because you one-upped somebody else.
This will tire you out and leave you bitter. So, the best way to be happy is to define your own happiness, through your own rules.
6. The little things matter
Life passes by in an instant. It wasn’t long ago we were all teenagers in school without a care in the world. And now, what do we remember of it?
The little joys, the moments that make you feel alive, those are the pieces of the puzzle.
Sunshine on a cold winter day, the first drop of water to a parched throat, holding a puppy or a baby, the excitement of a recent purchase, a good laugh with old friends, or a good laugh with new friends marking the beginning of a fresh, comfortable bond you might share.
The feelings that these happy incidents elicit will always be unmatched.
Training your brain to be receptive to these, will help you appreciate all that life has to offer.
We tend to hold on to negative experiences. Ones that brought us pain or humiliation. That is our mind’s way of telling us not to repeat unpleasant actions.
So, if you were to just slow down those happy, little moments and piece them together, they will help you remember that life is the sum total of all those moments of joy.
7. Share your story
According to John Kim, LMFT, aka The Angry Therapist, “Sharing your story means being vulnerable and disclosing when appropriate. And remember, you have to define what appropriate means for you.
We learn more from other people's stories than we do our own. If no one shared their stories, where would we be? What lessons would we learn? How alone would we feel?
We are all a million walking stories. Your story is what makes you, you.”
Finding a good, trustworthy friend may not be the easiest thing in the world. So, you can try sharing your story on nowandme.com so that even when you don’t want to tell people about your identity, you can share how you’re feeling.
You can also try out support groups or meet-ups near you, which are usually free or at a very low cost.
It is comforting to talk to strangers because there is no fear of judgement. This helps us be vulnerable and let go of all those bottled up feelings inside us.
8. Sliding Scale
A lot of therapists offer lower rates to students, or variable rates depending upon your level of income. They also might take up some clients for free, so do ask them if they have any pro-bono spots.
This might not be feasible, but is a good chance to take when you really, really do need therapy.
It may feel like therapy is just a huge amount of money spent, only to ‘talk’ to someone. And that is where we usually get it wrong and tend to misplace our sense of responsibility.
In itself, a single therapy session will most likely not be impactful since it is a continuous process, the benefits of which start to accrue over time.
So we might think that retail therapy can do the trick instead because we compare it to the benefits of a single session. But that is most likely a short-term solution.
It is important to compare the cost and benefit of your expenses. You cannot immediately see or feel the benefits of therapy. But it is the only way to address your problems directly.
Investing in yourself, your health and your well-being is never a waste.
Think of therapy to be like a spa for your mind. Or something as routine as going to the general physician’s clinic for the flu.
If you don’t feel so good, why would you want to remain that way?
Ignoring a mental health issue in its initial stage will aggravate the problem. Thus, making it more persistent and severe in the long run, even more than it started out to be.
The above-mentioned points were some handy tips to help bring relief but in no way a substitute for professional therapy.
Do not self-diagnose. Consult a therapist if problems persist.