Updated: Jul 12
It's time for the training wheels to come off and for me to practice on my own...
And no, I don't mean on a regular bike- I learned that one quite a few years ago 🤣
I'm talking about my therapy journey! My therapist and I agreed that it was time to reduce our meetings to bi-monthly instead of weekly, which I wasn't really expecting- but it got me thinking about a few things...
You see, in our conversation at the end of my last session, she said there comes a time in everyone's therapy journey where they need to take the practices they've put in place and test them in the real world for more prolonged periods until eventually, the need for therapy on the same issues is reduced or unnecessary. Of course she said we could always come back to weekly meetings if needed, which means that this time is essentially an experiment to show what more might be needed and/or how much progress I've made.
As we were talking about this, I was instantly reminded of what I used to say to my first group of students as I taught them writing, "Put on your helmets, folks, because the training wheels are coming off!" At first, I held their hands step-by-step through the writing process. We analyzed the sources together, made information charts, connected ideas, wrote the paragraphs together, and reviewed our own work (which was really my work with their ~guided~ input). After that, they were gradually released to start forming their own ideas- though they always had me to come have a conversation with when they felt stuck.
Therapy has felt like that first writing experience as I had someone to guide me through processing my emotions on a weekly basis. Now though, it's time for me to start processing on my own and working to ride my bike on my own.
I won't lie- this idea is ~still~ a little scary to me. As someone who's notorious for suppressing her emotions to fit the mold of the box she's put herself in, actually feeling my feelings and working through them instead of shoving them away has been bizarre. Not having that weekly conversation helping me affirm that I'm working in the right direction seems a little daunting.
But this is exactly why we're doing this gradual release- because I need to learn how to listen and trust myself, which is something I instantly thought needed to be shared with my community. Too often, we take in signals that tell us to be wary of what we're thinking or feeling. We learn to distrust ourselves in knowing what's ultimately best for us. Many of us, myself included, get stuck in toxic patterns of serving others above ourselves and, in the process, get lost in those we love to serve.
So- while the training wheels are just coming off in my therapy journey, I have found a few key practices that have helped me start finding my inner voice again over the past year all on my own. Whether you're in therapy or not, I believe the ability to hear your inner voice loud & clear is critical because your inner voice is your guiding light towards your highest, best self.
If you're looking to fortify your relationship with your inner voice, here are a few practices to try...
1) Journal Journal Journal
I can't preach the benefits of journaling enough! I find it so impactful that I made my first course all about it! I think it's such a powerful tool to really dig into what's going on in your mind and get a grasp on what your true inner monologue & feelings are about every aspect of your life.
I've been on my journaling journey for about 5 years now and I'll be honest- there have been times where it just wasn't for me. I wasn't in tune enough yet with my emotions and the inner workings of my mind, which made journaling very boring as I started off using it simply as a way to document my days.
However, once I was able to slow down and place importance on what was going on in my headspace, I slowly but surely started to open up to myself and figure out where I was & where I wanted to be. I'm not perfect at being able to pinpoint everything on my own, but I know my journal is always there to help me unscramble whatever I'm feeling. 💛
If you're looking to start your journaling journey, but aren't sure how to get started, I got you! Click here for my beginner's guide to journaling ✨
2) Practice Yoga & Meditation
Contrary to popular belief, yoga & meditation is for everyone, regardless of how well your body moves or how much practice you've had. I won't lie- yoga & meditation is another practice I had a hard time getting into. As someone who's kept herself busy practically her whole life and is as curious as anything, it was extremely hard to figure out how to shut my mind off and focus on my body & breathing.
However, after multiple times practicing in the comforts afforded by UF's Southwest Rec Center (Southwest girl for life!) I started to hear my thoughts get quieter and quieter until, eventually, I could focus on simply being.
3) Talk to a Trusted Person
Now I know what you're thinking, "If I'm trying to cultivate my own inner voice, why would I talk to someone else?"
As humans, we're truly social creatures. Therefore, the impacts of talking to someone can be truly liberating to us. It can allow us to work through some of the emotions & events we're hung up on and find a new perspective that we resonate with- whether it comes directly from the person we're talking to or indirectly in the path our thoughts take throughout the conversation.
4) Stay in Tune With Your Feelings & Emotions
Last but certainly not least, staying in tune with your feelings & emotions keeps your inner voice at the front of your mind for longer stretches of time. When you're cognizant of how you're feeling & perceiving the stimuli around you, you'll not only start to distinguish between what your "thoughts" are (especially those not connected to your true self) and what your inner knowing is, but you'll also have the ability to make key mindset shifts that'll move you closer to the person you want to be.
For example, in the beginning of my time with my therapist, we worked extensively on cognitive distortions, which are different ways we skew what we're thinking & allowing ourselves to feel. It was during this time that I realized I minimized pretty much all of my negative emotions by telling myself they didn't matter or using toxic positivity. By developing an awareness of my emotions, I allowed myself the opportunity to recognize a negative emotion and let myself experience & acknowledge it instead of shoving it away.
At first, it seemed like I was just allowing myself to be negative- something I loathed. However, the more I practiced, the more I realized I could feel the potency of my positive emotions better and actually let go of my negative experiences easier than ever before.
Overall, the training wheels coming off in my therapy journey are both scary & exciting. I'm scared that I'll relapse into old bad habits as I did a couple of months ago, but I'm excited at the possibility of soaring to new heights in my self-actualization journey.
None of this would be possible without the steps I've taken to listen to & strengthen my inner voice, which is why I so hope you take some of these tips for yourself or find a different process that works for you in order to start hearing your inner voice loud & clear ✨