You Cannot Help Everyone

Are you a licensed therapist? A trained counselor? Good, me either. If you are, hi. I'm not a licensed therapist or trained counselor. Welcome.

I often notice trends or similar habits amongst those who haven't sought out therapy. I notice these particular habits because they used to be my own before I utilized a therapist. I would put a lot of my problems on other people (friends, family members, etc.) and unknowingly/unconsciously vent my life away to them, hoping for and seeking a response that they often times could not give me. And with good reason. They were not trained to give counsel over my life's problems and then detach themselves from their relationship to me.

I've found in the last few years that once you share your own experience with something (traumatic or not) you unconsciously give other people permission to share their same experiences with you. This is particularly true (and happens frequently) in the case of sexual assault. When I first came out and said what had happened to me, the amount of people who chose to share their stories with me was both comforting and horrific. That's the nature of trauma and sexual assault though; it's an experience you wish on no one, yet when you have that experience in common with someone else, you feel connected to them... you share a common bond.

Self-awareness is incredibly important when you're in a tough place in your life. But it's also incredibly challenging when you're in a tough place in your life. I've been there. It's hard to not just think solely of yourself and your own problems at all hours. One thing I have been trying to work on over the last few years is not dumping all of my issues onto someone hoping for them to give me the same guidance or empathy that my therapist would. A therapist is trained to detach from their clients because that is their work and in addition to teaching their clients boundaries, they have to have them, too. Again, I am not a therapist. And I can't expect other people to be able to make that distinction when therapy... is also not... their work.

What I'm saying here is, you cannot help everyone. And you should not want to, either. I simply cannot help each and every person who tells me they've been raped. Because truthfully, it's hard on the soul to listen to one story like that when you've also been in that place, let alone dozens. For myself, creating boundaries was one of the hardest parts of therapy. Of course I want to help as many people as humanly possible. But I am not trained to handle other peoples' trauma. I am only semi-trained to handle my own, and sometimes that is not enough.

I cannot help everyone (yes, I know I keep saying that over & over again). And I realize that I have put myself in a position where several people could perhaps be under the assumption that I can. Listen when you need a friend? Absolutely. Listen when you've had a bad day and need to vent? You got it. Direct you to the resources that have been helpful for me? No problem. But I am not a therapist and I will never be a therapist, as I've learned. Unfortunately, it isn't a profession I think I could handle, although I've previously desperately wanted to pursue it. My brother-in-law will become a therapist, yes. And my sister, too. But I will never be a therapist. I should not feel guilty for not being able to help everyone, either. I don't say that to be rude or sound negative or pessimistic, but if I were to try to help everyone, I would end up serving no one. A mentor once told me that you have to get specific about the type of person you want to help. Sexual trauma survivors, yes. I want to help them utilize practices in the exercise physiology field that have helped me along my journey to healing. But that journey is a lifelong one for me, too, just as it is for any other survivor. I am not superwoman. Can I listen to their stories over and over again to no end in the hopes of providing sound psychological advice? Nope. Not trained to do that, and it would be ignorant and selfish of me to try and do that.

It's my personal belief everyone should seek out therapy. It's maintenance, much like seeing a doctor. But I understand that not everyone is into that sort of thing and some people still believe the notion that if you seek out therapy, you're a nut job. Hey, that's your prerogative.

You cannot help everyone. Some days, you can only help yourself. And on those days, that is more than enough.

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