What do psychotherapy and kitchen cleaning have in common?

Psychotherapy? Why do I need it, if I somehow manage with my life. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes a bit worse, and there’re times when everything is so bad I don’t know what to do anymore. But do I have time to meet the therapist? And what does it mean, how will it help me? Does it even work?…

 If these questions seem familiar to you and you have such dilemmas, welcome to my kitchen. Yes, to kitchen, where you’ll find the answer.  

Close your eyes and imagine a kitchen in a common, ordinary house. You probably see closed cupboards, a countertop with various things, a kettle, a breadbin, table with chairs around it. Nothing that really attracts your attention, everything is cleaned, you see that it’s tidy place. You feel like making yourself a cup of tea, you open cupboards in order to find your favourite mug, and that is when troubles begin… You find all the other mugs and glasses, plates, pots, but none of them is your favourite mug. Finally, there it is, when you open another drawer – you got it. You reach for a tea box and it turns out that the box is empty, but you are convinced that somewhere should be a new box, so you open all cupboards and find many other things, but not the tea you so desperately want right now. Where could it be? You start to get angry, why nothing stands in its place! Or maybe you think, why cannot I even make tea without a problem?!?! After a while there is a thought that maybe it’d be good to do general cleaning. But there is not time, so maybe I should wait, maybe I can live with it for a little longer?

 Sounds similar to the questions asked at the beginning?  Assume that you carry out the cleaning scenario. There day comes, when you start cleaning up with energy, you open cupboards and start to pull out all things one by one, you find many things that are useless, broken, overdue, or acrid. You have to look at every one of them and decide if it should stay, or not.

 At some point, the whole room is filled with the contents of emptied drawers and shelves. Wherever you look, there is something else standing and it seems that this cleaning is never going to end. And for the record, it looks a lot worse than it was before. To turn on your heel and leave, closing the door behind, is such a tempting thought right now. It takes a lot of determination not to give up in that particular moment. But when you finally wipe the shelves, put all the useful things back, throw away the rest and eventually close the cupboards, even though the kitchen before and after the cleaning doesn’t differ much, inside the change is very noticeable. Knowledge what is where, where it came from and possibility of using when needed, gives the peace, which has a great impact on everyday life.

 It’s exactly the same in the psychotherapy process, when we begin it with more or less enthusiastic attitude, slowly starting to look at what we have inside. We see whether these are things that are useful to us, or rather the kind of making mess of everything. When we allow all these emotions overflow us, there is a moment when we feel worse than at first. Just like in the middle of cleaning, there comes a moment when we want to pick up the phone and call with the information that we won’t be coming again. But, if we are strong enough to acknowledge, with the help of a therapist, that we became afraid of our feelings, thoughts, and actions, there is a moment for cleaning up this mess, leaving only what’s useful and necessary. Thanks to the therapy we have the possibility to recognize certain feelings and transform them into fuller and richer sense of self.

 Therefore, when asked if everyone should go for therapy, my answer is “no”, but it can help everyone feels good with yourself, just like when we drink delicious tea in clean, tidy kitchen.

December 1st 2018
text: Barbara Sławik photo: danielle macinnes
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