“We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff”. – Carl Sagan
People need to feel connected to something. So many times, what we want from life, and the wellspring of our dissatisfaction when it’s denied, comes from wanting to believe we are relevant participants in the goings on around us. We are alive, and this desire for connection is at the heart of what makes us human. The elements that make up our human body, the carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and a host of other elements are leftover remnants of stars created over four billion years ago. As these stars aged they became unstable and eventually exploded, scattering their potential for life across the universe. Those elements formed the building blocks of life on earth. When you look up at the night sky, instead of feeling lost or alone in the vastness of space, know that in many ways, you are gazing back into your own eyes.
This is the story of why you are here. Therapy does many things well, but none more so than to help people figure how to better connect themselves, others and the world around us.
I’m a therapist, and that means I have a really weird job. What exactly are we going to do? Surprisingly, it’s only the second most common question of people walking into my office. As I write this sentence, I’m coasting into my 47th year on this planet. For 25 of those years, I’ve been a participant the study of how and why we humans change. There’s the old line about the only inevitabilities in life being death and taxes. As lists go, it’s hard to argue with, but change is worthy of being a third item. People make changes all the time. When the process might be too slow or subtle for others to notice on an individual level, the world around us changes and we’re forced to adapt, even if all our adaptation does is keep things the same. In this sense, change is inevitable. It also happens to be the answer to the above question. You have started this work because something needs to change and that something is you.
For young people considering therapy, or more likely being forced into the idea, the “what” of change is remarkably consistent. What teens and young adults often want to change are the forces that compelled them into my office in the first place: parents, judges, probation officers, school officials, etc. To me, these are noble goals for treatment. A young person who wants to fix a probation problem is a young person who will need to change to do so. If you are considering therapy for yourself or your child, I invite you to divorce yourself of the pressure of judging whether your reasons sound “good enough”. Something needs to change and that something is you. That’s all we need to know.