Self Help or Self Analysis?
Often, the advice of this blog includes “go away and think about what you want or need, and then come back and talk to your partner. If you’re having trouble, use this technique or book, or talk to a therapist or a friend.” Those instructions lead back to the idea of knowing what you want to tell your partner about it in very different ways - the technique, the book, and the friend, are all generally “self-help” - supporting yourself through hard emotions principally. The therapist and some books are about self analysis - while they also support you, they also help you get to the core of the thoughts you are having, the real center and truth of what you are thinking at the time. This is often harder than self help because it’s less comfortable. These are the sessions where you cry with the therapist; the times I cry and throw Brene Brown books before picking them up; the pages of the jealousy workbook I don’t want to do but have to and sometimes take a photocopy of so I can re-do over time as my reactions change over time.
Both are absolutely necessary at all portions of your polyamorous journey. Everyone needs self-help to soothe ourselves when things are hard; and everyone needs self-analysis to help us get over hard emotions that we cannot get to the base of. Remember when we talked about jealousy and how it is a warning light for other, deeper emotions like insecurity and fear? Only self-analysis can figure out what we’re feeling. After we find out what it it and talk with our partners about it, then we can practice self-help to soothe those feelings. This can happen at any stage - never let anyone tell you that you have “been doing this too long for these feelings” because there is no such thing. Feelings that you have at any point are valid.
Validity of feelings, of course, has never indicated the proportionality of feelings, and a disproportionate feeling for a particular situation is a sign that you need this set of skills inherent in self-analysis. While I suggest therapy as one of the greatest resources for aiding us in self-analysis I understand that it’s overpriced in the United States where I live, so it is not always accessible to folks. There are guided journals and books that are available to help people, and honestly, taking the time to carefully think things through in a focused manner can be a form of self-analysis that can get us over that first hump of self-aware thinking we need before we begin the hard conversations with our partner and then start the self-soothing self-help process.
This all is not just applicable to polyamory, but because we have more relationships and more opportunities for these conflicts that require “going away and figuring out how we feel,” we need to be more careful of which of these we’re doing at the moment. If all we’re doing is self-help when we need self-analysis as well or first, we need to take a minute to notice and adjust. Self-help feels way better, but self-analysis needs to come first, often, and when it needs to, is very important.
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