Lately I’ve been reflecting on the magic I’ve found in three words that I’ve been using often in my therapy office. These three words lead clients to visibly relax — to breathe more deeply, sit more comfortably, and move quickly (if temporarily) through layers of worry.
The words are these: You’re not crazy.
Oftentimes, therapists forget to tell our clients they aren’t crazy. We assume that our clients already know this — that they have a sense that what they’re experiencing is solidly in the range of normal human experience. But the truth is that life can be so difficult and paralyzing and isolating that it can be easy to begin to believe that nobody else thinks this way, or feels this way, or is this way.
And yet what neuroscience has been teaching us lately is that even very scary mental health concerns have very real neurobiological underpinnings. There are good, brain-based reasons to explain why kids and adults sometimes feel depressed and anxious. There are clear brain-based reasons that show why people sometimes experience temporary relief in self-harm. There are straightforward, brain-based reasons why trauma survivors often are flooded by memories. It’s important for clients to know that they are having a very normal (if challenging) response to what’s probably an abnormal, stressful situation. In other words, they’re not crazy.
Of course, there’s a difference between hearing your therapist say something and believing it. But after clients have trusted me with their vulnerabilities and truths, it can be powerfully reassuring for them to know that I still think they’re as sane as the next guy — or me. It’s not a magic pill, but it’s a start.
Is your sanity feeling threatened? Contact Dana to set up a time to talk through what’s been going on with you and figure out a plan to move forward, sanity intact.