Let me start this post by being clear that I am not slamming therapy. I have been practicing therapy for over a decade and know that it is a game changer for so many people. This process otherwise known as "the talking cure" has saved countless lives, of that I am sure.
If you want therapy on steroids, try starting a business.
Starting a business will bring up demons that you didn't even know you had. It can rock your personal life and cause you to examine and shift your relationships. It will cause you to get really clear on your priorities and what matters to you. It will force you to look at yourself in ways that the sacred space within the four walls of your therapist's office might not ever demand of you.
And it will cause you to stretch in grow in ways you never saw coming.
I'm a clinical psychologist by training, turned relationship coach for entrepreneurs. For graduate school, I had to see my own therapist. Honestly, I wasn't in a place where therapy was at the top of my list of things I wanted to do, but it was part of my training.
I wrote that check (this was before you could put your therapy on a card) every week for $70 which was my shrink's reduced rate and a ton of money to me. I was barely making ends meet as a graduate student working at a $9/hour job at a coffee shop, accruing debt that I continue to pay off today.
Did I learn anything about myself? Not much.
Did I learn anything about therapy? Nothing significant that I didn't already know from my studies, my clinical training and work, and from having watched videos of the masters.
I do think it's important for graduate students to get that kind of preparation, but to be honest, therapy didn't do much for me other than check off that box.
Breaking out into the saturated market of coaching where I have had had to work harder to build a business than when I had a more formally recognized professional practice as a psychologist has been more of a wild ride of self-growth than the "talking cure" could have offered me.
Here are 7 reasons why starting a business can be better for you than therapy:
1. Business will help you truly know yourself.
You can talk at your therapist all day long and get an understanding of who you are, but in the safety of a private relationship, there can still be room to hide from yourself.
You will be the most successful in business when you discover who you are inside and out. You need to know how you come across to others, what makes you tick, where your areas of strength are and what you need help with. You need to know what lights you up so that you can go after it and share your passion with the world.
Business gives you no other choice.
2. Business will command that you trust yourself and believe in yourself.
A good therapist will help you develop self trust and belief in yourself.
A successful business, however, will command your self-trust and belief in yourself.
You need to develop and use your intuition as you make big decisions and really put your skin in the game. You have to learn to stop listening to all of the noise around you and start trusting yourself. And you have to believe in yourself to stay the course. You need to be able to stand behind your message in the face of doubt from others around you, and more importantly, you need to eradicate whatever self-doubt you have.
You are in business to be a leader and an innovator. You simply can't do this without belief in yourself. You can borrow your therapist's belief in you and use therapy as a vehicle to finally believe in yourself, but in business you have to live it.
There is no alternate route.
3. Business will challenge your relationships.
Therapy undoubtedly heals broken relationships and can help you recognize which other relationships are no longer serving you.
Business, however, will be a catalyst to rattle your closest relationships, even the ones that seemed like they were moving along just fine. As a result of your growth as a person in business, you will create strengthened relationships with some people, but you might separate from others. You will need to learn how to take care of this third party in your life without neglecting the closest ones around you.
Caution: You might learn this the hard way.
Business will be a stress in your life that forces you to really evaluate your relationships and improve the ones that are worth hanging onto, however difficult that might be.
4. Business will make you express yourself and be vulnerable in front of strangers.
If you have a good therapist, you have a safe place where you can express some of your deepest stuff. Being heard, seen and accepted by another human when you are at your most vulnerable can be one of the most healing experiences possible. Even with the safety of an excellent and supportive therapist, this kind of self expression can be extraordinarily difficult if you have experienced interpersonal trauma and have learned to rely only on yourself. When can finally fully reveal yourself to someone and still be accepted, the experience can be magical.
In business, however, the perceived safety is stripped away and the experience becomes your self-expression to the world. Even for someone who with no problems trusting a few precious others, truly showing up in the world and revealing yourself through self-expression can bring up all kinds of inner gremlins.
The more you show up and the better you can do it, the more successful you are.
5. Business will cause you to grow in ways you never imagined.
You can go through the motions in therapy and keep showing up week after week, feeling better and better about yourself, and if you're courageous and have a good shrink, you will do a whole lot of growing.
In business, you have no choice but to stretch outside of your comfort zones and grow in ways you never anticipated. Whether it's showing up for your audience in a new way, learning technical skills that make you want to push your head through a wall, or finally letting go and giving up some control, business will demand you to stretch yourself and grow.
6. Business might even get you back in touch with your spiritual side.
Most therapists don't have room for God on their couches.
But when you start a business, at some point you may start to panic. You have invested blood, sweat, money and tears into your business and maybe you start to question WTF you are even doing. You might just have a come to Jesus moment and try to call in a Higher Power.
You start looking for signs from the Universe that you're on the right path. You start talking to psychics. You try to quiet your overused left analytic brain and start tapping into your intuition. You might even try to communicate with your Guides. You learn about energy, vibrations, and you aim to keep yours high, all while trying not to fall into the black hole of fear that can be part of your every day.
And you know that the most successful people in the world meditate, so you do too.
The result? You become much more spiritual in the process.
Perhaps the most important lesson of all:
7. To be most successful in business, you will need to embrace forgiveness.
You are going to have haters, people who don't believe in you, people who make false promises, people who misrepresent you, people who try to get in the way of your success, and people who steal from you.
You can learn from your experiences, but there is no room in business to ruminate on those experiences (for very long) if you wish to be successful. The solution? Forgiveness.
More importantly, you will need to learn to forgive yourself. You're going to make stupid decisions. You're going to screw up lots. You will embarrass yourself. And you're going to make some really bad investments.
The name of the game is persistence and tenacity, and this requires a hefty dose of compassion for yourself as you make bad moves left, right and center.
At the end of the day, if you wish to be successful, you have no choice but to make peace with yourself, learn a thing or two, and move on, continually growing and embracing the process.
Isn't that what therapy is all about?