I got a little depressed during my first year of University. I dated a girl for 2-3 months, and it fell off. I wasn’t showing up to school on time, I wasn’t doing well in my academics. I was getting into constant arguments with my parents back home. It felt like the world was against me. I was going to be an academic failure once again.
I knew I needed help.
The majority of the guys coming into this pick up artist thing often have emotional truths and issues from past traumas, abusive childhoods, negative experiences that they themselves have not dealt with or are completely unaware of it. Yet, they go on years after years of chasing superficial lines and theories and are oblivious to their own emotional realities.
In the book, Models by Mark Manson, the author prosed that people struggling with their dating lives are out of touch with their emotional truths. He also recommended most of his clients to try out therapy, to help them untie and get in touch with their emotional knots.
So how can one process all the traumas, the hurt, and pain that happened more than a decade ago?
One of the ways is psychotherapy.
The issues and concerns of mental illness, depression and aren’t properly addressed in Singapore culture. For some reason, our culture stifles important conversations on emotions, depression, isolation, sex, relationships. Ironically, things that matter in life. There’s still a stigma around seeking psychotherapy in Asian and Singaporean culture.
One of the best ways to understand our own psyche is to hire a professional psychologist to help you.
There also seems to be a common misconception between psychotherapy and being issued clinical pills. This topic pops up commonly whenever I’m on the topic of psychotherapy with friends.
- Both are trained in psychotherapy
- Psychologists tend to more at your behavior “If you’re depressed and can’t get out of bed, there’s a behavioral activation”
- Psychiatrists tend to lean towards biology and chemistry “If you’re depressed and can’t get out of bed, there might be a vitamin deficiency”
- Psychologists have a doctoral degree in an area of psychology, the study of the mind and human behavior. They’re not medical doctors
- Psychiatrists are medical doctors who graduate from medical school
- Psychiatrists tend to be the one authorized to prescribing hard medicine (pills etc.)
When I openly discuss therapy with my Singaporean friends, I know they’re afraid of how it’s perceived. However, if you think about it, it’s similar to getting a personal trainer if you’re serious about getting really good at bodybuilding.
Celebrities, multi-millionaires, successful entrepreneurs, athletes, high performing people, musicians, artists and people who are influential in society often use psychotherapy to help them in their own lives. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. I’d argue that getting therapy can help you all areas of life: your professional life, your family life and your dating life.
It is, after all, your actions and behaviours that determine your day to day lives. If there’s something you are overly anxious or avoidant about, perhaps there’s an underlying emotion that you’ve not confronted. If you’re constantly unhappy, or constantly in sour relationships with your friends and family members, then perhaps there’s something there as well.
I’ve been using psychotherapy for the past couple of years in my own life and it’s has helped me conquer anxieties in my dating life, take steps towards building a business, foster better relationships with my parents and brought more awareness to my issues in general.
Do You Need Therapy?
So, do you need therapy? Here is a simple checklist I stole from a helpful resource:
- You have emotional or sexual impulses you don’t have control over angry outbursts, fear of intimacy, sexual anxiety, bouts of depression, etc.
- You come from a difficult childhood, had absent parents or a poor relationship with your parents.
- You’ve suffered some major traumas in your life (death of loved ones, abuse, major health problems, etc.).
- You have compulsive behaviors which interfere with other areas of your life: i.e., drug/alcohol abuse, etc.
- Most of the relationships in your life are dysfunctional and/or unhealthy (always fighting, lots of blame/guilt, etc.). This includes friendships, significant others, family members.
- You are overly pre-occupied with one aspect of your life. Common examples include an obsession with being “cool” or popular, obsession with impressing others, a constant need for approval from others, even obsessing about improving yourself (feeling like you’re never good enough), etc.
The Different Forms of Psychotherapy
There are different forms of therapy used. Some involves more surface level work and some peer deeper into the unconscious. When most people think of therapy, they think of going into a room, lying on a couch and crying your heart out after some sort of hypnosis. That’s entirely untrue. The majority of therapies don’t involve hypnosis and it’s often a two way interaction between the therapist and the client.
Therapy can help you understand how past traumatic events determine your attachment style, why you’re overtly critical or judgment of yourself (could it be because you had an overly critical parent?), your lack of motivation, your anger or apathy, your subconscious negative beliefs, the subconscious ways you measure yourself with others, and other unconscious drives. For instance, if you’re always choosing shit-y relationships in your life, then perhaps there’s something there that you aren’t conscious about. Or maybe, you get uncontrollably angry when your parent criticize you on something minor.
Our decision making comes from unconscious aspects of our minds. Therapy you can process the anger and the hurt in a safe environment, and when you become more aware of the anger, you are able to exert a great control over your behaviour.
Here are the basic forms of therapy that’s most commonly practiced:
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
CBT is primarily a short term treat that takes involves you challenging your own unhelpful thoughts and beliefs when facing a difficult problem in our day to day life. This is more surface level and it’s often focused on changing the way you think in a situation.
- Acceptance Commitment Therapy
ACT is more focused on being mindful, being accepting of your negative thoughts. It does not attempt to directly change or stop unwanted thoughts or feelings but instead encourages you to develop a new compassionate relationship with your negative thoughts and feelings.
- Psychodynamic Therapy
When I first started off using therapy, the focus is on a shorter term and present solutions such as CBT and ACT. However, psychodynamic therapy is a more in-depth style of therapy. The focus of it is to reveal unconscious content of your psyche in an effort to alleviate psychological tension.
EMDR is a form of therapy that emphasizes the role of distressing memories in some mental health disorders, particularly (PTSD). The goals of EMDR is to engage the brain’s natural adaptive information processing mechanisms, hence reliving present systems. It used to treat both PTSD and trauma.
There many other form of therapies, however, I’m pointing out the general ones that most therapists use.
The Limitations of Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy, like all tools of self help, isn’t a not a cure-all.
- Taking Responsibility
Like all personal development tools, one has to still take full responsibility for our own issues and problems.
Showing up to a psychologist and expecting him or her to just fix your dating and relationships life is not going to work out. Psychotherapy should be seen as a supplement, as opposed to a crutch.
Conversational skills such as cold reading, making statements and learning how to make your conversations dynamics are equally important to rewire old social habits that are not helpful to your dating life. No therapy in the world can get rid of approach anxiety. You’ll still have to put in the work, go out and take action.
What I would recommend is to use both psychotherapy and build social skills to help you facilitate growth from the internal and external sides.
- Reliance on Pills
Psychotherapists, in general, do not prescribe pills. However, psychiatrists do. My personal take is that there’s no need for hard medicine unless you have a clinically diagnosed mental illness.
- The Law of Self-Help
The more people are leaving therapy, the better it is. That would mean that’s working. I would also add in that your therapy sessions should be challenging and not fall into a comfortable pattern.
There was a period where I found myself repeating myself in 2-3 sessions and almost requested for a switch of therapist just to mix things up.
- Treat it Like Hiring an Employee
Top performing athletes, entrepreneurs, and celebrities often use psychotherapy as a tool to manage their emotions. Treat hiring a therapist like hiring an employee. It should get the work done. They are not there to be your friends or validate your problems. They are for a professional service: to help you manage your emotions.
Hiring a therapist is a large commitment (financially as well) so do account for that.
Can Therapy Help Your Dating Life?
The pick up artist community has always focused on evolutionary psychology concepts to explain mating behaviour. When I started off as a pick up artist, I was confused with all the conflicting theories such as the dark triad and mating strategies in evolutionary psychology theories. You get a whole bunch of floating theories around how to attract girls. It’s what the PUA community was or built upon on.
The basis of natural selection is this: If you’re of ‘higher status’ then girls are going to be attracted to you. ‘Status’ can be either displayed by wealth, prestige and social status, or it can be determined by behaviour.
Basically, it says: you’re not good enough, get off your ass, go become ‘higher status’, go do something and get better. When starting off at this getting good with girls pursue, it can be helpful mind frame and to get kick off your ass to get ‘higher status’.
However, focusing on these theories in the long run are isn’t going to help our own behaviour. If you’re constantly wanting to better yourself, doesn’t that stem from the belief that you aren’t already good enough?
Furthermore, human sexual behaviour isn’t merely determined by these hard theories, but also personal preferences, life values, genetics and a whole host of other factors.
The Better Focus: Using Therapy To Understand Our Behaviour
Is it more important to study and research on theories or to actually understanding our own psychology? When we understand our own psychology, we’re are in control to mould our own behaviour. It’s something you are in your immediate control.
When you’re understand your own psyche through therapy, you end up asking better questions such as: Why do you get nervous around that hot girl? How to overcome approach anxiety? Why are you avoidant of commitment? Why do you measure ourselves/base our self-esteem with certain external achievements? How can you feel worthy enough to date a girl I’m genuinely attracted to?
I think it’s more effective to change and mould our behaviour rather than focus on all that heady evolutionary scientific research, or the pursuit of ‘higher status’. Furthermore, the majority research is all non-conclusive anyway.
Manson, M. (April , 2013 2012). Do You Need Therapy. Retrieved September 1, 2017, from MarkManson.Net: https://markmanson.net/therapy
Raymond Lloyd Richmond, P. (n.d.). Reasons to Consult a Psychologist. Retrieved September 1, 2017, from Guide to Psychology: http://www.guidetopsychology.com/reasons.htm