What it means to be Authentic and Live an Authentic Life

choose-authenticity-in-a-marketing-agency.jpgLife is a journey of exploration and discovery with plenty obstacles to overcome, living one’s full potential in life remains quite elusive. Yet, this is only the first step toward living an authentic life.  Living an authentic life offers an opportunity to discover your goals and objectives. This often manifests by defining a path that is true to who you are and who you are about to become.

Many people who live an inauthentic life, live a life that is incompatible if not inconsistent with their values, abilities and desires. Because of this, they have strayed-off the path to discovering their true selves and real purpose in life. This is what it is like to live life inauthentic. It is a life simply hollow, incomplete and out-of-sync with oneself.

What does it mean to live an authentic life?

According to Brian Goldman, a renowned psychologist, authenticity is the unhindered operation of one’s true self in their daily enterprise. In his understanding, Goldman asserts that authenticity hold within it two very critical aspects:

  • Self-knowledge
  • Self-awareness

Essentially speaking, authentic people accept themselves for who they are. Like everyone else, such people have strengths and weaknesses. What makes them stand out is their ability to identify their strengths and at the same time seek to better their weaknesses. Being authentic is simply about connecting with one’s values, desires and abilities. Being authentic liberates one from the pressures of trying to be someone else; trying to be perfect.

Lame Deer is a Native American philosopher well-known for his work on human psychology. According to Deer, an authentic life is devoid of self-deprecation. He suggests that most people fall-short-of living authentically merely because they can’t stand their natural animal selves. Think of how people wear perfumes and deodorants to conceal their true smell. Or come to think of how people use cosmetic products and procedures to hide their true selves. Together with the various roles we undertake in the unending cycles of production and consumption as humans we remain detached from our true self and with nature itself. That is according to Lame Deer.

Authenticity in life is summarized by these two simple yet critical ingredients. In fact, self-knowledge and self-awareness defines who we are as humans. Understanding these two is just about all you need to live authentically.

Self-knowledge and self-awareness

At its very outset, authenticity begins when we commit our intentions to genuineness. A willingness to act genuine even when it feels most vulnerable. It comes with an ease of decision making in life; freedom to pick and choose on aspects that one relates very well with in as far as values and desires in life are concerned. This is in fact what it means to make unpopular decisions and choices in life. This is what it means to come to terms with some aspects that often people choose to hide away from, but which are integral parts of us. Self-knowledge and self-awareness are the building blocks of an authentic life. They make us live more honest if not engaged lives.

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Definitive characteristics of authentic persons

Living an authentic life never comes easy. In fact, research surveys suggest that most humans across civilizations live inauthentic lives. Of course there are more than enough reasons for the same. That aside, the following are some aspects that may help you single out individuals who are actually living authentic:

  • Resilience: living authentic life comes with an inherent ability to rise up to the challenge whenever one falls.
  • Purposefulness: being authentic implies having an intended purpose in life. In other words having set objectives in life.
  • Being goal-oriented: authentic people have some set goals to accomplish. They have targets in life and strive hard to realize them. In so doing, they remain steadfast and focused throughout their endeavors.

How to live authentic

Living authentic come with sacrifices as well as compromises. It calls for a complete overhaul of the past in favor of a fresh and new perspective to life. The following hints will get you started:

  • Open mindedness
  • Redefinition of values
  • trust your intuition

Open mindedness

Being open minded is the cornerstone of authenticity. Be open to ideas and be sure to experience a whole new perspective of everything this life has to offer. Authenticity never flourishes in closed and rigid minds. In fact, it fades into insignificance. Such minds never hatch brilliant ideas and such people are fated to remain average for life. Well, this is less about an opinion than a fact of life.

Redefinition of values

This is about getting clear on what you dare to care about. Holding tight on the very values we grew up with is common place in most societies. Some of these values and traditions may clash with what we in fact stand for as values. This puts authenticity in jeopardy. In brief, it is impossible to live authentically if one knows not the very values that they stand for and uphold.

Trust your intuition

Whenever one acts inauthentic, intuitively they feel out-of-sync with who they actually are and what values they stand for. Intuition is about those hunches, physical sensations and even the impressions that come alongside the actions we undertake in life. Intuition instinctively shocks us back to our senses whenever we act contrary to what we stand for in life. Intuition guards us from straying far of the true path of authenticity.

Discovering who we actually are is but a continuous process. It is more like a journey than a destination, where we keep unfolding bits and pieces of ourselves as we move along. It is the beginning of being authentic and living authentic.

How does Marijuana affect your Relationship?

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How Marijuana Can Affect Relationships

The impact marijuana can have on relationships remains to be a very controversial topic. Some hold the view that the two can never go hand in hand. Instead, they mix as well as dynamite and match; very explosive with widespread and far-reaching effects. While others believe that marijuana has no negative effects on relationships. In their view, it spices things up. This article, though not intended to hit at any side in favor of another, has captured nothing but the truth on how marijuana affects relationships from both schools of thought.

Success in any relationship calls for love, trust and compromise. In addition, it also requires the couple to be free of substance abuse and addiction in all of its forms.  In this context we are discussing marijuana ABUSE. I invite you to be open minded in this topic and not stay in the category of black and white thinking. Not everyone who smokes pot will abuse it or become addicted to it.

Pot smoking, like any substance, may seem innocent, harmless and even fun for some at the very outset. Though the habit initially kicks off as a way of establishing identity or possibly freedom of expression, it can eventually lead users down the path to ruin and destruction in any love relationship. It can set one’s life in a downward spiral that ultimately robs them of everything they value as far as love and relationship are concerned. Unfortunately, marijuana has become widely accepted and debatably legalized in many modern societies.

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How does marijuana affect your love life?

Having counseled many couples on relationship matters over the years, I hold as true the opinion that the abuse of pot can actually minimize progress and growth in relationships. Marijuana abuse can directly impact:

  • Personal life and friendship
  • Intimacy and commitments
  • family life and responsibilities
  • emotions

Personal life and friendship

If pot smoking ultimately turns habitual and addictive, the victim ceases to be himself or herself. The drug moves in and completely takes over such an unsuspecting soul. In no time, such an individual becomes consumed by social anxiety and paranoia.

At this stage, the pot addict is more likely to be introverted and neglected, even by close friends and confidants. Of course being high kind of redefines their brand of friends; they associate more with a clique of other addicts trapped in the same habit of pot smoking. These are the kind of friends that only sink them deeper in their abyss of frustrations. Essentially, the addict loses touch with reality and reason.

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Intimacy and commitments

In love life, intimacy is very critical. In fact, according to some studies, it is the glue that holds the relationship together longer. By its very nature, intimacy is about partners being able to see into each other. Precisely, intimacy guarantees a clear perception of an individual’s feelings as well as their partner’s.

Marijuana in a relationship acts contrary to this feeling. Though critics suggest it heightens intimacy, this substance is in fact insidious and dangerous in your relationship. The “sacred herb,” as some erroneously call it, is a mood-killer when abused and only detaches you from your own as well as your partner’s feelings. Besides, weed shortens memory and makes honoring commitments in a relationship quite the nightmare.

Family life and responsibilities

Whenever a recreational drug like marijuana turns addictive, cravings for the same makes one forget everything else but the pot. Abdication of duties and responsibilities in the family typically sets in at this stage. Real addicts are never worried about the welfare of their children or spouse. Not in the slightest. They live in denial, isolation and over time becomes overtly defensive of their actions. It is no surprise that such individuals resort to verbal attacks if questioned about any of their unbecoming behaviors.

The drug-free partner in a relationship that is bedeviled by marijuana suffers more psychological traumas than the addict. Such partners may at times feel betrayed, tricked or even short changed in the relationship. This often develops into self-blame; taking unnecessary responsibility for the addicted partner’s way of life. This might then degenerate into jealousy, rage and self judgement, the real ingredients of depression.

Ironically, if asked if they still love their spouse in the relationship, the addict is often quick to respond in the affirmative. Their continued use of pot is evidence to the contrary though.

Marijuana and emotions

Emotionally, pot smokers are not themselves. Research findings indicate that as one uses drugs time and again, likely the case with marijuana addicts, their emotional tone plummets lower and lower. Unless they are high, such individuals know not much happiness and pleasures in life. Such a twisted perspective ends up draining life in any relationship. In some cases the couple may call it quits and part ways, just like that. In some rare cases though, the pot-free partner may have the nerve and patience to wait and just hope for the best – a day when the love of their life will finally stop the bad habit. Success rate for such cases is often very slim because the addiction often turns chronic over time. Most of the patient pot-free partners end-up depressed and frustrated without the intervention of specialists like psychotherapists and psychologists.

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How to recover from marijuana addiction

Clearly, marijuana and relationships are immiscible. The good news however is that marijuana addiction as a condition can be reversed. Various effective recovery programs are in place for the same. These programs remake the addict anew so that they once again come into the light. With well-thought-out alternatives, these programs helps clients regain a brighter outlook on life as a whole, integrity and self-respect. This way, they can once again love and be loved back.

To the drug free partner in the relationship, patience is of the essence. Give your partner time to shed off the bad habit. If the addict remains defiant and unappreciative of your patience then consider exploring other options like:

  • seeking help from a psychotherapist
  • divorce

The second option should come last; only upon exploring all available options and all concerted efforts rendered futile. Though this therapy is known to shock drug users into reality, it is likely to impact negatively on kids, if there are any. So, settle for divorce only if your partner’s marijuana addiction condition deteriorates and becomes so much over the top or is clearly on the brink of spinning out of control.

Communication Breakdown: Why do we listen to reply and not listen to understand?

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Why We Tend to Listen to Reply and not Listen to Understand

As a skill, listening is very critical in communication. It is the best way to pass across information and, more importantly, knowledge between individuals. Even so, studies suggest that over the years, our listening ability has only deteriorated. We no longer listen to understand. Instead, we listen to reply.

Studies show that we spend close to 60 per cent of everyday listening to others, but only retain a quarter of what we hear. Part of the reason for this could be that the world around us has become louder over time. A careful scrutiny and analysis of issues reveal the real suspects in play; a delicate combination of a pair of aspects within the human brain. These aspects include:

  • The lag time concept
  • The confirmation bias aspect

The lag time concept

Charles Gross, in his study at Princeton University in 2010, discovered what he called lag time in communication. It is the time duration between what you hear and what you understand. Now, according to Gross, lag time is in the range of a few seconds up to a minute. Of course this varies among individuals.

According to Charles Gross, lag time is the reason people listen more to reply than to understand. In fact, this is where real trouble begins. During lag time we shift attention to ourselves. We stop listening to the others. Instead, we listen to ourselves, a perfect recipe for communication breakdown. During the same phase, we tend to figure out a quick response rather than let the message sink in. The whole conversation then ends up into a fierce contest.

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What causes lag time in communication?

The exact cause of lag time is still unclear, though psychotherapists and psychologists believe human emotions holds a center stage and are very critical to it. Thoughts, beliefs, values, perceptions and opinions are also other very vital ingredients of an individual’s lag time.

The confirmation bias aspect

In the words of Grand Eklund, “You are only listening to what you want to hear.” I can’t agree with Eklund more. In all most every communication setting, people tend to pick out facts and other figures they deem fit; what affirms their pre-existing perspectives, values and beliefs. In so doing, they listen with more intent to reply than to understand – a real communication disaster. That is in fact how the confirmation bias concept operates.

Healthy conversation should involve listening to every detail of what is spoken. Confirmation bias however contradicts this. It makes it quite the challenge to listen and acquire knowledge.

How does confirmation bias come about?

Psychologists hint that confirmation bias has some level of connection and link with how slow individuals speaks in comparison to how fast they listen. Studies show that the human brain has the ability to process words at an optimum rate of between 600 and 1000 words per minute. When we speak, individuals communicate roughly 175 to 200 words a minute. Clearly, we aren’t utilizing our brain’s full capacity, especially when listening. Because of this underutilization of potential, the human brain tends to drift off into other aspects that would make up for that deficit; the onset of competitive listening.

Competitive listening is best explained using George Miller’s Law. In order to understand what someone else is saying, one has to first assume that the other person’s position is true and then try to find out what is actually true in it. A negation of Miller’s concept bears what is known as competitive listening; hearing something then reacting negatively to it, in part because of a belief that the other person’s position is false. In this spirit, listening grinds to a halt and communication breaks down.

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Way forward to effective listening

Many years of exploring listening as an art points me in a common direction; that effectiveness in listening can only be achieved through awareness and concentration. Yes, simply allowing yourself to listen better without coercion.

In order to “listen to understand and not just to reply”, we need to concentrate more voluntarily. This way, we acquire more knowledge and also make our conversations more effective.

Daddy Issues and their Impact on Relationships

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Wondering what this possibly means?  Well, read on for the actual truth and other shocking revelations on daddy issues and how it impacts relationships……

Daddy issues is a general term that describes a woman’s self-destructive behaviour often typified by a desperate ache for male attention. Now, that much suffices the definition of this whole aspect.

Women in this condition let themselves be misused by men. Unfortunately, some of us are or have been these kind of women. If not, then we probably know of friends who very well fit in the above descriptions. This problem is real and needs to be fixed sooner than later, lest it spill over into relationships and ruin everything.

May be you still don’t get the details of it. Or maybe this whole narrative on daddy issues doesn’t seem to hold much sense to you. Well, then these leading questions may just be all you need to drive the point home:

  • Do you find yourself attracted to older men, either married or unmarried?
  • In terms of emotional support, would you say your father was always there for you or you felt abandoned by him at some point in your tender ages?
  • Can you single-out instances of abuse by your father? It could be emotional, physical or even sexual.
  • Are you attracted to emotionally unavailable men and often wonder why?

If you said yes to any of the above, you are not alone. This article will help you identify unconscious patterns and conditioning with “daddy issues” thereby helping you create a happier and healthier relationship for you and your partner.

Let’s take a more in depth look at some of the concerns surrounding individual women caught-up in daddy issues.

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  1. Abandonment

Abandonment is very deep rooted with attachment and detachment issues. Your father is the first male figure in your life. If you were emotionally abandoned by your father or he was emotionally unavailable for you during your younger days, this may cause a deep need to feel loved and cherished in your adult life. You will continuously look for this in other men to substitute the love you did not get from your father. Unfortunately our relationships cannot provide that deep fatherly affection enough to fill this void. Until we are aware of this, we cannot work to understand ourselves better and give ourselves the love we need.

Older men, as I always refer to them because they are often older then the women they are dating, are in most cases more confident and financially stable. They always appear very much in control of the relationship since as always is the case, it is not their first rodeo at dating or romancing a woman. It is little wonder then that younger women fall for such men exhibiting high levels of confidence and poise.

Older men, or men in general, instinctively notice if their partner is troubled by daddy issues in the relationship. This often happen naturally. So the men do not put in much effort in noticing this helplessness. This power imbalance marked by the woman’s vulnerability often lets the man run the show. He can make her feel adored, protected and safe; all the things her father could not provide to satisfy her emotions.

A woman in this state of mind may crave all the love and affection she had been starved of as a little girl. Her new found love is all she might require to fill up that father-daughter relationship gap. This way she might feel her needs are being met and in some way his as well.

  1. Engaging in risky sexual behavior

This is one other significant and definitive feature for women with daddy issues. They crave lots of sex. In most relationships such women associate love and confidence to the number of times they are laid by the men they are supposedly in love with.

Recent studies and surveys have shown that in most women, having sex often tricks the subconscious mind into thinking they are loved and adored. This is terribly wrong and is but a false sense of security. It will only end up ruining your relationship in the longer term. True love exudes intimacy that is founded on companionship and mutual respect.

  1. Fear of being alone

Any lady who’s been through this murky side of relationships will certainly conquer that it is very scary to be single. She’d rather be in a dysfunctional relationship all her life than be alone.

Daddy issues can make one unstable in relationships. Such individuals rush into engagements without sparing time to check out for compatibility aspect in the whole deal. In so doing, they scare away the real men of their dreams. This way, they throw all their respect and dignity down the drain. Such women lack in everything that defines identity and healthy self-esteem.

  1. Nagging reassurance of affection and love

A sense of insecurity defines women with daddy issues. They are always comparing themselves to their supposedly “ideal women”. In doing this, they often worry on whether they are still their partner’s “one and only”. Well, this is often very exhausting to their partners. That very needy aspect exhibited in a woman often pushes men out of relationships. It’s is very counterproductive in the long run and only serves to confirm your greatest fear; you are not lovable.

How to go about resolving this nightmare

The first proactive step in tackling this problem is to understand and acknowledge that daddy issues are real. Denying this fact is ignorant and only sinks one deeper into the abyss of frustration in relationships. You certainly don’t want to continue down the path of rebound dating and relationships, do you?

In the event that this has been an ongoing problem, it is advisable that you seek advice from a qualified therapist or relationship counsellor. These experts have just about all it takes to provide you the right support, advice and encouragement on matters relationship whenever needed.

The bottom line

It is impossible to change your past, but you have a future. Keep your thoughts positive and pick on the right path for your future. This will guarantee you a relationship full of real romance and of course not much troubles related to daddy issues and guess what? You will also be able to attract the right men in your life, a real dream come true in your love life.

Conquering Fears in Relationships

shutterstock_105933593  Fear. It can take over your thoughts, and in turn you can build up so many walls and blocks that you end up feeling alone and misunderstood. So many of us long for a meaningful relationship to another person, but it is fear that gets in the way. Fear of rejection, fear of judgement, fear of abandonment and fear of trust are just a few of the many fears that we must overcome in order to gain a meaningful relationship.

Fear of rejection is all about self-confidence and self esteem. It stops us from chasing after our dreams because we do not want to be turned down or fall. Every no we receive brings us closer to the door with the possibility of a yes, that is why it is so important to work through your fear of rejection and learn to cope rather than avoid.

shutterstock_123809797Fear of judgement stems from not having fully accepted ourselves. We are our own harshest critics. Full self-love and acceptance can change that, although we can never be 100% of anything 100% of the time. It does not mean that everyone thinks the way you do about yourself. People’s judgements on others have very little to do with the person being judged. It has much more to do with the person doing the judging. Their own insecurities come out against others. People will judge no matter what situation you are in, but it should matter not what they think, but what you think about yourself.

A fear of abandonment is within all of us, but the severity is based solely on our personal experiences in the past. With some it is much closer to the surface. A fear of abandonment can manifest in several different ways, the most apparent of which is the need to be clingy and demanding. Another way people cope with the fear of abandonment is rejecting their partner before they themselves are rejected, running away from relationships before they have reached their full potential. And finally, there are those who will change their whole entire person to become the “perfect” partner for the person that they are interested in. These coping skills are poor and maladaptive, which can cause train-wreck relationships to become normal. This is where being able to develop trust in your partner is so important.shutterstock_107413730

The fear of trust is a big deal in relationships, romantic or otherwise. It is a pretty common occurrence. We have all been hurt by someone we trusted, someone who decided that what they wanted was more important than our trust. But we have to keep in mind that we cannot punish everyone else for that person’s mistakes, especially when seeking out new relationships. It is perfectly normal to have a period of trust building and cautiousness in the beginning of a relationship. However, at some point we have to decide whether or not we can trust the other person. Trust is the foundation of every good relationship, and without it, you don’t really have a relationship at all.

But how do we overcome these fears? Well, it is a daily struggle. It takes a lot of reflection and deep inner work to break through these defenses. We have not only the outside opinions to combat with, but the internal ones as well. Our brain is pretty good at talking us out of things, but sometimes we just have to ignore it and take a leap of faith. Relationships, especially romantic ones, carry a lot of risk which is reasonable to be unsure of. But if we are unwilling to accept that risk, we may just lose out on having someone wonderful in our lives.

I Come First: Healthy Boundaries and Avoiding Burn Out

Expectations are a part of everyday life. We have expectations of others and them of us. There are times where there is so much pressure and so much to do, that it may feel like we are running in circles trying to get things done. The constant bombardment with new tasks and added responsibilities can weigh us down. If we are constantly putting ourselves behind others, we get burnt out. There is this constant drained feeling that just overtakes our emotions and our bodies.

shutterstock_62127079  So why do we feel the need to make everyone else happy? The biggest reason may be fear; fear of rejection, fear of being judged, and even fear of being alone. These fears can cause us to do crazy and unreasonable things for those around us, while we need to be thinking of ourselves as well. Finding a healthy balance in between what we need to do for others and what we need to do for ourselves can be a daily struggle. How can you find the balance between yourself and others?

Maintain healthy boundaries. Know when to say no and let others know what you are willing to do. There is no reason for you to be bending over backwards to make everyone happy all of the time. There should be boundaries for the amount of responsibility that other people can put onto you and you onto them. It is important to shutterstock_89030563know that saying no to things is okay.

Take time out for yourself daily. Turn off your phone, stay away from the computer, and just disconnect. Having time by yourself is one of the most important parts of the day. It is a time to reflect and heal and replenish your energy. It can be 15 minutes, or it can be 3 hours. But it is important to have that bit of time alone with yourself each and every day.

Ask for help. If you are feeling too overwhelmed, ask for help. If nothing else, talk to someone about how you are feeling and what you are taking on. Just getting it out can make a world of difference.

shutterstock_80333077Communicate your feelings to those around you. If you are feeling burnt out and under too much pressure, let those around you know. Communication is vital to every relationship and letting others know what you are feeling can open up doors to solutions you may not have thought possible. Just shutting yourself off from the world will not relieve any pressure, but it will create more problems for you in the long run.

There are times when we all feel overwhelmed and burnt out. However, it is how you handle these times that says the most about you. Take charge, find ways to feel empowered, and take care of yourself. At the end of the day, life is much too short to spend it being anything but happy.

 

 

Expectations in Therapy

shutterstock_114450547  The reasons why people seek help in therapy varies widely, but the expectations are the same; change and insight. So why does it sometimes feel like there is little to no change? Why do we feel worse, and not always better? Why do we feel like we are still stuck in the same place as when we started therapy? These are all frequently asked questions for those in therapy. This comes from a misunderstanding of the role of the therapist in therapy, as well as a misunderstanding of the client’s role in the relationship. Let’s take a look at the therapeutic relationship, and the roles of both the counsellor and client to better understand it.

The therapeutic relationship seems simple at first glance. It is a relationship that involves a deep trust and understanding, however these are two things that are very hard to develop with a stranger. Feeling unsure of how much to reveal about yourself is completely normal early on in the therapeutic relationship, but going forward it is important that the trust level is increased. Not being able to open up to your therapist slows down or brings the process to a hault. A lack of trust will lead to a lack of open communication, and expecting to get help without taking a look at yourself is completely impossible. It is fair to expect your therapist to facilitate a space in which you feel safe and secure, but it is your responsibility to open up.

Therapists are equipped with tools and strategies to help you work through just about shutterstock_117868852anything, but not every therapist is equipped to handle everything. Depending on their style of therapy and training, one may be well-suited for your needs and another may not be. This is why it is important to be clear about what you are hoping to get out of therapy. This will let your therapist know if they will be able to meet your expectations, or if they will need to refer you to another clinician. Do not take a referral as a sign of a therapist giving up on you. Take it for what it is, their attempt to put the help that you require within your reach.

One assumption about your therapist that may not be a conscious one, is that they are going to be able to solve all of your problems. This could not be any further from the truth. In person-centred therapy (which is what the majority of therapy is), your therapist acts as a guide. Your therapist will ask you questions in an attempt to reach your deeper feelings and thoughts, and guide you to the realization of these thoughts and feelings. Your therapist does not have all of the answers. Inside you are the answers that you are looking for, your therapist just helps to shed a different light on these answers.

shutterstock_120187948So what is your role as the client in all of this? Well, put simply, your role is to put in the work that is required in order for you to move forward. This means learning to trust your therapist, having open honest conversations with them (and yourself), and doing the homework that they ask you to do. In order for your therapy to be successful, you need to be open to the experience and willing to take a good hard look at who you are. It is important to keep in mind that your life will not improve instantaneously, and neither will your mood. Often times bringing up the past can be very painful and difficult to deal with. This pain should not be discouraging. It is an important part of the entire process.

A really good question to ask yourself is, what are my goals?  Write them down and work with your therapist towards your goals without any expectations of a time frame.  Failed expectations bring disappointment.  Better to allow the therapeutic process to happen organically rather then trying to control the outcome.

Therapy is challenging, but it is a good way to help you sort yourself out. A therapist can be a good foundation of support and well-being in your life that you may not have otherwise. When discouraged by the process, remember this: it is not the path we take that matters, but the things we learn about ourselves.