Now if you have been following my posts, you would think that saving for retirement or whatever your financial goals are would be the best investment you will ever make. Indeed for some that might be true, but (there seems to always be a “but” isn’t there) I’m here to tell you that in my humble opinion, actually investing in yourself through some counseling and therapy is probably the best money that you will ever spend.
Why can I say such a thing? That is because I personally have done it for twice a month for the past six years and have seen and reaped the benefits of it. I am a personal testament as to its power to create positive change in a person’s life. Without it, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today. Even when I talk to my friends, they say that they like me more now than the “me” from six years ago. Not that I was a “terrible” person before.
I know for a fact that therapy has accelerated my own personal growth and maturity. If I looked at myself from several years back, small things seemed to stress me out. I felt like my head was spinning, and even though things looked like they were in control from an exterior perspective, there was much turmoil in my inner life.
Today, I am able to process better the everyday going on’s of life, serenity, and surrender are bigger parts of my life, and I am able to live more fully into the man I was meant and made to be.
My Own Story
As the first child in an Asian household, I had many implied responsibilities and had to set the example for my younger siblings. I felt that I had to be the perfect child so that I could bring honor and prestige to my family, but also I had to do so as to not incur the wrath of my father who could be at times a very angry man. This resulted in me to hide behind the mask of busyness, perfectionism, people pleasing, chasing achievements, and notoriety.
Throughout my teenage and early college years, I was plagued by a deep sense of inadequacy and unworthiness of never fully being comfortable in my own skin. There was a constant inner dialogue that I wasn’t enough and no matter what I did I could never be enough.
I was the small scrawny Asian kid, being told by family members that I wasn’t eating enough and that I couldn’t be a “strong man”. In middle school I was bullied for being perceived as gay.
I longed for a place of belonging and oneness, but that wasn’t really possible because of my own brokenness, coping mechanism, and dysfunction in my own family. These masks and barriers that I had erected didn’t solve my problems, but only helped bury or manage my shame, rejection, and anxiety.
In doing so though, these barriers I put up and masks I put on lead to unhealthy and addictive behaviors that lead to a vicious cycle of more shame, guilt, and unworthiness. At one point it almost lead me to commit suicide after being expelled from high school for plagiarism because I couldn’t live with the shame and guilt of not only what I had done, but also of the perceived shame and guilt I had brought onto my family.
While I had seen therapist on and off since high school, it wasn’t until around the time of my leaving a PhD program that I sought seeing a therapist of a consistent basis. During this time, my life on the outside seemed to be going really well. I had just graduated with a Master’s degree in engineering and I got a full time job at what I thought was my dream job working for a golf company.
On the inside though, it was a completely different story. I was dealing with a ton of anger and resentment. My unhealthy behaviors and addictive actions seemed to get increasingly worse. I was never fully present and had questions with regards to my sexuality that I didn’t know how to process. It was then that at the urging of one of my best friends that I went and saw a therapist.
While the process of going to see a therapist and opening up wasn’t terrifying, it was confronting my addictive behaviors, my character defects, and dealing with my painful childhood experiences that proved difficult for me.
Through the many sessions, my therapist and I were able to untangle the messiness of how my family history and childhood was impacting the way I functioned in my day to day life. I discovered what truly were my needs, fears, wants, desires, and emotions and that I was the one in the way of my own well-being and having the life and relationships I so desired.
I learned how to be vulnerable and honest with myself and my relationships. In recognizing and naming the shame and guilt in my life, it not only helped me understand my behaviors, but also gave me a new freedom and happiness.
As my journey continues, sure things are not “perfect” but when will they ever be? Sure I have problems like anyone else, but therapy has brought me more rooted and connected relationships. It has allowed me every day to better accept myself for all its flaws and strengths which is empowering and liberating.
Why You Should Consider Investing in Yourself
For some I understand that going to see a therapist might be a scary thing or that you might be apprehensive about it. No one wants to admit that they need help, let alone help for “mental” or “psychological” issues. I get it. We are proud people and admitting fault within ourselves is difficult.
It is also difficult to admit that there might be something wrong with our “brains”. For others, the stigma behind therapy is that it is for the weak or those who just “can’t handle it” or aren’t “strong enough.” To that though, I call BS.
Many of us were probably told that our internal feelings should be kept to ourselves and that when traumatic or bad incidents happened, we should bury or numb our feelings and sweep them under a rug.
In doing so, the thought is that we wouldn’t have to deal with those feelings and emotions anymore. Some of us might have believed that if we let the past be the past, it could no longer hurt us.
To be honest, this is probably the worst thing that we could do to ourselves. By not dealing with these issues immediately, we turn the problem into a mold or fungus. As time passes by, it just grows and rots and ultimately leads to decay. We in essence become ticking time bombs.
As seen in my own story, some of the ways it can manifest itself is through addiction, depression, stress, anxiety, and other unhealthy behaviors. Or our actions might be more explosive and lead to a sudden mental breakdown or panic attacks.
Whatever it might be, I feel that this is no way to live. Living in fear, guilt, and shame, is just toxic for any individual. Over time it just brings out the worst in us.
Therapy I believe, allows us to face where we have been and what we have lived through. In doing so it will allow us to understand our present and what our current feelings and behaviors are. Through exploring our thoughts, relationships and past actions, hopefully therapy can make sense of it all.
While some call it weakness, I say engaging in therapy is the most courageous thing you can do. Being open and honest with yourself and your feelings will seem like the most difficult thing in the world. Yes, it can be scary, but by moving through the pain and confronting it head on in a safe and nurturing environment, this will create freedom and wholeness in your life. As you journey to a place of emotional wellness and being, therapy will allow you to have closer, deeper, and more meaningful relationships.
Doing this type of self-work to explore your own story will not only allow you to discover why you do the things you do or explain certain behaviors, but also empower you with new tools to create change. Therapy will hopefully help you find a voice and communicate your feelings, understand your own worth and set up healthy boundaries, and weather life’s challenges with greater resiliency.
Here at Independence Engineered I believe not only should we make sure our financial house is in order, but it is about wholeness on all levels; mind, body and soul.
As the old spiritual says:
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 
By making sense of who you fundamentally are, my hope is that it will empower you to make healthier choices and walk into a new freedom. And through therapy you will cultivate self-compassion and acceptance as well as discover your authentic self.
Ultimately, it is my belief that when you discover your true and authentic self, as someone who is inherently beloved and worthy, you can become the best version of you. This version is someone who in mind, body, and soul, is able to live fully alive and whole. Who wouldn’t want to pay or invest in that?
So with that my fellow engineers what are your thoughts? Have you pursued therapy? If so have you found it helpful? Let me here your stories!
Be well my fellow engineers! I wish all the best for you!
Below the Fold
 Matthew 16:26 NIV
· For those wrestling with questions about your sexuality, please contact The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis and suicide intervention and prevention services to those in the LBGTQ community.
· For those individuals dealing with suicidal crisis or emotional distress please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential support 24/7.