The famous comedian, Jim Gaffigan, has a skit about the different types of people at the gym. I’m sure any of us who have been to public gyms in the past can relate to the different types of people who go to the gym such as: the body builder types, the people who are there primarily to socialize, etc. Jim Gaffigan outlines all of these different types of people who are at the gym in his comedic way and one of the types of people he describes are the really fit, slender people. To these people, Jim Gaffigan states: “Go home, you’re done!”
I find this hilarious because I can relate as there have been countless times that I have been at a gym and looked on enviously at the very fit people at the gym thinking that I wish I looked like them and that they don’t have any more work to do! So here’s my question. Why do those fit, slender people keep going to the gym? I think there are many different reasons. One reason is maintenance of that fit, slender body. Exercise can be very good for one’s mental health so people may continue to go to destress. I’ve heard (I don’t know for a fact because I am not a huge gym goer myself) but I have heard that going to the gym becomes more of a lifestyle habit that people enjoy so they continue to go despite what they look like.
The reason I am talking about comedians and gyms actually does relate back to therapy. I have had many people, even friends of mine, joke “Why aren’t I fixed yet?” I recently had a couple who I had only seen a few times but things in their lives had calmed down and they came to my office and said “Look, you fixed us after such a short amount of time!” Although jokes about “fixing” oneself can be funny, that is not what therapy is about. It’s the same reason those fit people keep going to the gym. Therapy is about maintenance, keeping those emotional muscles toned, and doing something positive for our health.
The other thing that’s important to remember with this notion of “why am I not fixed yet” is that we are not broken!! Too often people who attend therapy feel like there is something wrong with them or broken within them. I am here to tell you that is not the case! Everyone has struggles, everyone can work to improve their emotional health, and none of this means that we are broken and need fixing!
Now, I am not saying that people need to go to therapy once a week for the rest of their lives. It is a bit different from the gym in that way. What I am saying however, is that therapy “check ins” once a month or every few months can be very good to keep us grounded and on the right track even when things are going well. These check ins can be very preventative so that when there are difficult seasons in life we feel more equipped and ready to handle these times.
I’m also saying that it’s really important to have patience. Just like getting physically fit, getting emotionally fit takes time. Your therapist is not a Magic 8 Ball that can tell you all the answers and “fix” things. If you’re feeling frustrated with how your therapy sessions are going, talk to your therapist about what you want your sessions to look like. This does not mean that you’re going to get all of the answers you want, but therapy is for you and should be driven by you! My hope is that people start to view therapy more like going to the gym, a way to maintain our health and happiness.