• Often we get caught up in ideas of what we 'should' be and do; often these self-limiting beliefs can hold us back from an authentic way of being

  • Psychotherapist Nick Pandya explores how therapy can help you if you feel lost or disconnected

  • You don't have to be struggling with a specific mental health difficulty to benefit from therapy – often people come to therapy to help them understand themselves. Find yours here.

I believe that we all have an innate tendency towards health and wholeness. Every so often, life events and situations can get in the way of accessing our inner resources to achieve growth and healing.

Psychotherapy can be a valuable tool to firmly place you back on the path to living a full life. When we are faced with major or recurring life stressors we can be overwhelmed and seeking additional support, such as therapy, is a natural and positive step in taking care of yourself.

You may be grieving the loss of a relationship or a loved one. You may have reached a crossroads in your life where you feel lost without clarity or direction. You find yourself making unhealthy choices and the quality of your life is not what you want it to be. Your work used to have meaning, made you feel alive but now you are stressed and overwhelmed.

When we get disconnected from our life’s true direction, other people’s expectations come before our own. We often get stuck in the self-blame of “I should have done things differently”, because we’ve been conditioned to accept the blame.

You may have had a lifetime of conditioning from messages picked up from people around you that led to who you are now.

We are thrust into this world with birthright gifts; then we spend the first half of our lives ignoring them or letting others disabuse us of our natural gifts. As children we are driven by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are, expectations held by people who are not trying to discern our Selfhood but to mould us into their idea of our Self.

In families, schools, workplaces and, dare I say, religious communities we are steered away from our True Self towards conformity and images of acceptability, under social pressures such as racism and/or sexism our original shape is deformed beyond recognition; and we ourselves driven by fear, too often betray our True Self to gain approval of others. Then, if by chance we awake and admit our loss, we spend the second half of our lives trying to reclaim the gift of our True Self.

So if your life seems to be passing you by or you cannot see the way ahead, allow yourself with grace to go into personal therapy to unlearn these internalised negative self-constructs and gently step into who you want to be.

I believe our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic Self, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. Each step in understanding the reasons behind your self-defeating actions, no matter how small, will reinforce your trust in yourself and bring feelings of security and strength. The therapeutic process will help to open your eyes to the possibility of a life beyond your self-limiting way of living. Therapy can help you regain your life. It can help you to move through grief, explore and clarify your feelings and needs, change unhealthy patterns of behaviour, foster close relationships, live more authentically, and improve life satisfaction.

With compassion and sometimes with humour, your therapy sessions will be a resource for deepening the dialogue with yourself — an opportunity to access your intuition, reverie, and reflective mind. You will learn to read your responses to your own experiences, your unconsciously written text that provides guidance you need to live a more authentic life. The therapeutic process often turns into a ‘quest’ for wholeness, whereby it is not only about mistakes we have made but also about what we are confident and proud of.

Therapeutic conversations will help you to look at the unresolved past and the unfolding present, moreover you are free to talk only about yourself. I believe we all need this kind of truly undivided attention that only a psychotherapist can offer to help us deal with the material that comes up at different milestones of our lives.

Through the therapeutic process we learn to withdraw the negative projections we make on people and situations – projections that serve to mask our fears about ourselves – and acknowledge our liabilities and limits in search of our True Self.

In many ways, a fruitful course of therapy signals a rebirth as we explore our individual challenges and blessings that are all part of the cycle of life.

Finding a therapist who understands you and your particular view of the world is very important. When the fit is right between therapist and client, the work can be extremely meaningful.

Psychodynamic therapy will help you to explore your inner world to move beyond being stuck to feel more in control and find balance and flow in your life. Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a process that brings about emotional healing and helps you to live a full, authentic life. Depending on your needs, your therapist may also use a more structured approach to address your particular problem and emotional difficulties.

Perhaps this note will help you to risk going into therapy sooner rather than later and claim the gift of your True Self.

Nick Pandya is a verified welldoing.org psychotherapist in Bedford and online

Further reading

Identity and character work in therapy

What does being authentic really mean?

How childhood shame shapes adult identity

How social and political forces affect who you are

Co-dependency, authenticity and saying 'no'