The 2 Most Important Life-Affirming Practices Therapy Taught Me

This essay was originally published on Kaha Mind here

I wasn’t really sure what I was signing up for when I first started psychotherapy last year. All I knew was that my days had been clouded with thoughts of suicide and constant anxiety attacks and that I needed desperate and immediate help. Now, more than a year into it, I am glad for all the help I got and continue to get.

Before I go any further, I wish to start with a few disclaimers. My intention is not to romanticise therapy in any way, because I understand that one, what works for me might not work for someone else, two, therapy is still accessible to only a select few and three, there are a lot of ways in which mental health practitioners have been challenging the basic tenets of psychotherapy on various legit grounds.

What I do intend to do instead, is share the ways in which being in therapy has brought some big and small changes in my life and how I wish that they were taught to me when I was growing up.


I still remember the first time I actually understood what boundaries are, I was resentful towards my family and school (allegedly the two entities responsible for you as a child) for never having taught me about this, and instead, being the ones to delay that process. For the uninitiated, boundaries are “limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships”.

When my therapist hinted at the fact that I didn’t have any sense of my own boundaries, I instantly started thinking about how rude it would have been if I did have boundaries. But it has been a long journey from then to the current moment, and now I am so much more aware of what is okay for me and what is not okay for me and how to establish it for people to know and respect. It is still a constant struggle because I am in the process of experiencing myself through my own needs and wants and not someone else’s, which unfortunately is an alien experience for me. But it has been extremely empowering.

Be it your workplace, college, romantic relationship, friends or family, boundaries are essential. Considering the fact that most families in India think that they own their children, boundary setting with families is especially difficult and all the more important.


Validation means recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings are valid or worthwhile. Everybody seeks validation, from different people, in different ways. Some do it gingerly, some understand that it is okay to expect people in your life to validate your experiences and feelings. However, what is not talked about as often is the importance of self-validation and how various experiences in one’s life can drive them extremely far away from being able to do this. I have always been the sensitive kid who was often made fun of for crying at the drop of a hat. Because of what this entailed for me, I learnt to question and invalidate my feelings as a default. With the help of my therapist, I have now learnt to let go of my self-doubt and tell myself that my feelings are valid, and validation does not necessarily mean agreement or encouragement of that feeling. Self-validation is just telling yourself that you are seen and heard.

Having said this, in all honesty, therapy is still a bittersweet experience for me. It is extremely difficult to go through the process of confronting the deeply repressed parts of your life, sit with them, and accept the fact that they have shaped who you are today. But, there is probably no other way I could have managed to heal and live with (and despite) all my past experiences if it wasn’t for therapy. So if you have been in two minds about taking the leap, I can’t assure you that it is going to be easy or pleasant, but it could be worth it! Just like it has been for me.
Adishi Gupta

Adishi is a Gender Studies graduate from Ambedkar University Delhi. In May 2019, she joined Mental Health Talks India as a co-founder. In 2019, she founded Letters of Kindness. Her interest lies in advocating for mental and emotional well-being for a more sensitised world. She believes in deploying kindness and empathy as counter-forces to fight against widespread hate and insensitivity. Her writings on gender and mental health have appeared on various platforms, both online and offline. She can be reached on Twitter and Instagram @fembuoyant.

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