The Instinct to Run as a Signal to Stay

What Trying to Leave Therapy Taught me About Self-Sabotage

I’ve tried to quit therapy about 10 times.

At first, I believed my bullshit when this desire emerged:

“I’m not getting anything from therapy anymore.”

“Am I gonna have to do this for the rest of my life?”

“This is a waste of money.”

But instead of taking the easy path and running in those moments, I did something more difficult: I talked about my desire to leave in my therapy sessions.

What I’ve discovered is painful. Every time I want to quit therapy, it’s precisely when I’m on the cusp of facing something deeply uncomfortable.

It’s only when I bubble that discomfort to the surface (whether it’s a painful memory, realization about myself, or pattern I’m perpetuating) I can grapple with it, inspect it, and feel through it. Then it either becomes a conscious part of me or something I can leave behind because it no longer serves me.

But if I never bring it up — in therapy or out of it — that uncomfortable feeling will stay hidden for years. And it will manifest as self-sabotaging behavior for the rest of my life, masquerading as fate…

I would perpetuate negative relationship patterns. I would keep my art hidden and small. I would live a life of “less-than-what-I-could-be.”

Then I would rationalize it:

My desire to run used to be a signal to run.

Now my desire to run has become something different: it’s a signal to dig deeper. To ask myself and my therapist:

“Why now? What uncomfortable feeling am I afraid to face? What half-conscious life will I lead if I run from this forever?”

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Author, Editor, and Ghostwriter in Austin, TX.

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