When life presented Lori Gottlieb with an unexpected break up after forty, her world came crashing down, and she sought therapy. What she learned from being the patient is that we each have the power to transform our lives.
Lori Gottlieb is a psychiatrist and author. Her book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone explains that no one is immune from the struggles of life. She shares how therapy played a role in her struggles and helped her heal. It takes a light-hearted look at therapy from the viewpoint of someone who gives therapy and has received it.
In a recent ON Purpose episode, Lori Gottlieb and Jay Shetty examine the truths and fictions that we tell ourselves and the dangers of negative self-talk. They expand on how the influence of the people you surround yourself with affects you. They also give tips on when you should seek therapy as they debunk the common misconceptions surrounding mental health.
How Mental Health is Affected by Relationships
When negative people at work and home surround you, how do you distance yourself from the negativity? Do you feel trapped in the negativity because it comes from someone you are close to or love?
It is crucial who you surround yourself with. The mood is contagious. When you are surrounded by people who are always negative or talking about other people in a negative light, you start to act the same way. It is often a slow transition, and you don’t notice you are becoming like that person. All of a sudden, you are a negative person too.
When you surround yourself with optimistic and positive people who take care of their mental health, that rubs off on you. Having a purpose can be a difference-maker in your life and in the lives of those around you.
“Purpose is essential,” Gottlieb shares with Jay Shetty. “If you think about it, what if there is something you don't like going on? Instead of complaining about it, what are you doing to take action about it? Is there an issue in your own life like anxiety or depression? What are you doing to get help for that? Is there something in your relationship that's not working? How are you talking to that person about it? What are you doing to make it better?”
When you are intentional and conscious about the people you surround yourself with, like people who take action and are positive in their purpose, it motivates you to act that way too.
You have to protect your psychological immune system in the same way as your physical immune system. You can’t let harmful outside toxins from others affect you too.
“If you let these toxins in, you're going to break down and get psychologically ill, Gottlieb explains to Jay Shetty.”
When you are experiencing a situation with a family member or someone close to you, you can try to diffuse the problem by changing the subject.
“You're talking to a family member, and they’re negative,” Gottlieb tells Jay Shetty. “You can change the subject. You can talk about something else, you can say, you know what, I’ve really got to go. Let’s talk later. There are all kinds of things that you can do. You can also say to them, ‘When we talk, I noticed that there's a lot of stuff that you focus on that is negative. And I acknowledge that these things are real and true, but what can we do? Let's have a different kind of conversation about it. So you're talking about these things that aren't working? Maybe I can help you. Let’s brainstorm together about how to make things better.’”
If they don’t want help trying to find a positive solution, you do not have to join them in the negativity. You can choose not to interact in those conversations.
Sometimes it is not the negativity surrounding us that brings us down. It is the voice inside that does the most damage.
“I'm always asking people, ‘Who is the person that you talk to most in the course of your life?’’ Gottlieb says to Jay Shetty. Most people think it's their partners, their parents or siblings, or their best friends. But we talk to ourselves more than we talk to anybody else, and we can be so unkind and what we say is so untrue. We will criticize ourselves. We insult ourselves throughout the day without even noticing it. We allow ourselves to be incredibly cruel to ourselves.”
We need to be vigilant and ask ourselves why we are inviting this voice into our heads. We would not allow someone else to speak to us in that way. Why do we allow ourselves to do so?
When to Seek Therapy
People visit the doctor for the various things that ale them without giving a second thought to what people might think. If you break your arm and need a cast, you go to the doctor and they help you fix your arm, or if you’re not feeling quite right, you go and get checked out. The same does not ring true for visiting a psychiatrist.
“What are you doing if something feels off emotionally?” Gottlieb asks Jay Shetty, “You go, and you get help for it. Right. There's some reason that people think that it has to be really bad that you have to be emotionally dying before you go see a therapist.”
You would not wait to see the doctor for a broken arm, so why delay seeing a doctor for your emotional well-being? Do not wait until you are over-anxious or in a deep depression. Seek help before you reach the point where you cannot function.
“People come to my office when they're having the equivalent of an emotional heart attack, really in crisis,” Gottlieb tells Shetty. “At that point, they've suffered unnecessarily for a long time, and it's harder to treat.”
No one sees getting a cast as a sign of weakness. Why would it be considered a weakness if you seek help for your mental health? Your emotional health affects you and those around you daily. When you value yourself enough to get help right away, you are portraying that you care about yourself and the lives of those around you.
Misconceptions about Mental Health
Not many people talk about going to therapy. There is a stigma that therapy means there is something wrong with you, or you aren’t strong enough to figure things out yourself. There is a notion that mental health issues are not real.
Gottlieb tells Jay Shetty that while on tour for her book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, she interviewed functional, successful, people and celebrities who all expressed they were in therapy. When people see these highly esteemed people saying they are in therapy, it helps change their mental health mindset. The stigma surrounding anxiety and depression starts to fall by the wayside when someone famous says it helped them. It is a real phenomenon that takes education for those who do not understand.
“Show them an article about it, just send them a link to something right, send them something that shows other people's experiences,” Gotlieb tells Shetty. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, nobody gets to live your life for you. So if you are struggling, get help. It doesn't matter what other people think, don’t suffer based on what somebody else says about what you're experiencing.”
Seeking Couples Therapy
There is a misconception that couples therapy is for relationships on their last leg or breaking up. Gottlieb explains to Jay Shetty that people from all stages of relationships seek her counsel.
“People will come to me as they're about to get married, Gottlieb shares with Jay Shetty. “They're completely in love, and they're saying we just want to learn the skills of how do we talk about the hard things in life? How do we talk about money and in-laws, and sex? Who will work and who's going to take care of the kids? How can we be more vulnerable with each other? How can we be more supportive of each other? They go in from a place of strength.”
When couples seek therapy, they are often fearful or worried they will find things that are wrong with their relationship once they start talking about it. Gottlieb tells Shetty the opposite is true. Once they have a session, they see it is not about arguing. It is about love and coming together. The relationship gets stronger, and you learn how to communicate better to get you through the hard times. You learn to see each other in a different light. You can let go of the other person’s projections and learn gratitude, appreciation, and kindness for the other person.
“People get into relationships, and they think it should just all go smoothly, they should never have any difficulty,” Gottlieb explains to Jay Shetty. “Then they have difficulty and they get worried. What does this mean? So go to therapy, learn about yourselves, learn about each other, and your relationship will be stronger.”
One way to look at therapy is that you get an excellent second opinion on your life. When you go to a therapist, you have another party looking from the outside with an unbiased view—someone who can see things in a different way than what you may have imagined. Don’t let society’s misconceptions keep you from improving and maintaining a high level of mental health and wellness. Educate others on the benefits of what therapy can do for anyone facing struggles in mental health.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Misconceptions About Couples Therapy – Lori Gottlieb” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.