What Unconventional Therapy Helped Me Understand About Myself And The World

January 5, 2022

This month marks two years since I started a less conventional therapy journey with a couple of incredible human beings who have helped me a lot and still do. Now, I’ve never been one to fit the script that many people live by and which my mother wanted for me. I couldn’t buy into the “study, graduate, get a steady job, marry, have children, retire” cycle. I’m not saying that it’s not a good way to live, but it’s not everyone’s choice and that should be okay. So when I found myself stepping into a new stage of my life that involved moving to a new, distant country, I was offered the opportunity to try something a little off the beaten path and I took it. I had tried classic psychotherapy before and it did help a little, but this time there was a need for a full-on peculiar approach. I’m talking shamanic healing, energy psychology, parts work and others that may sound bananas to you right now.

In a way, it was like finding Narnia—you stumble across it by accident (in truth, because you needed it), you meet amazing and odd creatures who go with you through challenges and adventures, in a world that doesn’t seem real but is, where few people have the courage or chance to step into. If you need some support, start with whatever feels easier or more accessible to you. Asking for help is, in itself, power.

Here are some of the most valuable lessons I learned from alternative therapies.

What I learned from unconventational therapy

Pain is a part of life and I can allow myself to feel it because I can deal with it. 

It’s rather fascinating to realize how much of who and how you are now is based directly on events and experiences in your childhood (even very early on). Regardless what ‘flavor’ or ‘weight’ that old trauma has, it usually means we develop some ‘shields’ and coping mechanisms that seem to have a double role. One is to protect us from ourselves, or better said to keep us from feeling the same way we felt way back when. The downside of this is that we lose touch with ourselves and maybe we never even got a chance to ‘build’ or discover ourselves.

We distract our minds and bodies from acknowledging, feeling and processing something painful, ending up in an existential crisis at 30 or 45 or 60, not knowing where all those years have gone, who we are or what we truly want. The second role is to protect us from the world, so that (you guessed it) we don’t feel the same way again. Of course this one is another double-edged sword because it makes us into someone we are not and it makes it difficult for us to see and appreciate the good things in life, because we are too busy defending ourselves from a world that is painted in the colors of our negative experiences.

My relationship with myself and perception of the world are heavily influenced by my ‘little self’

Our hurt and afraid inner child is leading the way from the shadows, waiting and hoping to be healed and loved, having the best intentions but not knowing better, and usually with less than desirable methods and outcomes. Considering that ‘tiny me’ is capable of affecting so many areas of life, some common ‘symptoms’ can be anxiety, paranoia, a lack of trust in others and in oneself, overthinking (I might be an expert on this one), or limiting beliefs.

The ‘medication’ for these ‘symptoms’ is not necessarily real pills (although the physiological aspect of this could sometimes use a better diet or a few supplements), it’s that ‘tough to swallow’ realization, introspection, all the self-work. But most of all, the cure is helping your inner child feel loved, understood, safe. Whatever was missing during that time, offer it now, just as you’d have wanted to receive it then.

What you can learn from unconventional therapy

It is amazing what you can discover and heal if you are willing to be open and trust the process.

When starting on a healing journey, it’s very likely you’ll try out multiple things in order to find out which ones work (deeper, better or faster) and which don’t. Some of these methods, actions or new habits can be: breathwork, meditation, emotional freedom techniques, chakra healing, purpose discovery, voice dialogue, shamanism, energy medicine or neuro-linguistic programming. Now click on the ones that are completely new to you (if any) and you may have just found another ‘tool’ to help you step forward or move the needle for your progress, throughout this challenging quest you so bravely took on. Also, welcome to the deep side, we have vegan cookies.

Having boundaries does not mean I don’t care, it means I protect myself.

I think personal boundaries represent a key element and maybe even the foundation of all this work. It’s not only about boundaries related to others or the outside world, but also regarding our own priorities and ‘rules.’ We can’t carve a beautiful, detailed, smooth, and strong sculpture in a workshop that has no roof or walls and is full of people running around and knocking stuff over. You know what I mean?

People behave and react based on their own trauma and experiences. When we’ve done enough work on ourselves, we are able to recognize the struggle and patterns in others, thus it becomes easier to not take everything personally and be affected by it, especially in relationships and during arguments. Having personal boundaries not only helps us within, but it also changes, improves or lets go of certain connections, making space and time in our lives for what we need and deserve during the current phase of our evolution.

Do what you need to feel better.

If you’re a woman who needs more confidence and a higher level of safety, get a pepper spray or take martial arts classes. Adapt this to whatever your need is, and do it. Action creates momentum and from there it adds up. Oh, and don’t worry about being perceived as ‘selfish’ or ‘distant’. Healing requires having the focus almost entirely on you and that’s okay. The world can wait.

Much heartfelt gratitude for my wacky and wonderful guides!

Also by Anca: Why Learning A New Language Gives You More Meaningful Connections For Life

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Photo: Conscious design via Unsplash; Mathilde Langevin via Unsplash

Anca Apetrei
Anca is a vegan veterinarian with additional experience in a few other fields, currently exploring alternative "career" angles and working towards finding or creating her ideal life situation. She is interested in personal development, emotional intelligence, spiritual enlightenment and self-education. She finds joy in dancing, cuddling furry souls, traveling, good music, fitness, meditation, sunny days, soap bubbles and fluffy blankets. You can find her on Twitter @juewu_seeds.


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