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Challenging Yourself with Kindness: The Right Attitude for Exposure Therapy

I'm going to lay out two truths. These two truths are desperately important, and equally true.

Without the first truth, the path ahead could get twisted, too hard to follow. Without this truth, taking a journey in therapy could be about punishing yourself, instead of the healing path it needs to be.

You are perfect, as you are.

Let me say that again.

You are perfect. As. You. Are.

I don't need to know you to tell you that. You do not need to change a single thing to belong on this planet, to have a right to be here. You, whoever you are, are worthy of love, without changing. You are an imperfect, miraculous human being - no less than the trees, who do not consider their gnarls and wonder if they belong on this earth.

If you're struggling with a condition that requires exposure therapy - if your life is limited by fear-based avoidance, haunting memories, or time-consuming rituals - here is another truth.

Without this truth, there can be no journey. No sense of progression - no relief - no growth.

You deserve a better life than this.

You deserve a life where you are free to grow. To pursue the things that matter to you. To let yourself chase dreams, find deep connections, build the life you want to live.

You deserve a life where you can play, get messy, experiment, try and fail, try and succeed. Yes, play, no matter how old you are. Yes, fail, even though it hurts.

You deserve to live life with a toolkit for the full range of emotional experience, so that you can have your fear and shame and anger, but it does not take you off course.

Facing the things you've been running from is hard, hard work.

Too many people try to do this hard work with an attitude of force, anger toward the self, an expectation that I must change to be worthy of love. This will. not. work.

You are perfect, as you are.

Too many people look at the journey they must take and choose not to follow. Not right now. It seems too frightening, too big.

You deserve a better life than this.

When you're facing difficult thoughts, memories, emotions, physical sensations - you need two things. Challenge AND kindness. Without challenge, there is no growth. Without kindness, you may move in the wrong direction.

If you're struggling with PTSD, OCD, or an anxiety disorder - there is hope and healing for you. If you find it hard to challenge yourself with kindness, a good evidence-based therapist should be able to show you the way.


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