They want their anxiety or sadness or depression or insomnia or addiction to go away.
But this view overlooks the function of symptoms.
Which, as a therapist, I see differently:
Our happiness and health depend on the freedom to be who we are — to feel what we feel, thinking what we think, need what we need — and to express all that fearlessly.
To the extent this freedom is compromised, we’re other than happy and healthy.
And our unhappiness and unhealth show up as symptoms of the sort listed above.
Now, we may well have been taught to misinterpret these symptoms — that they mean we’re somehow flawed or limited or broken.
And often this misinterpretation is fostered by unhealthy people in our life trying (consciously or unconsciously) to prevent our seeing what’s really going on.
But in fact the symptoms are merely signals from our bodies and minds that we are not getting something we need.
The most neglected needs are those for attention, acceptance, approval and affection.
In other words, the components of love.
When we find ways to meet those legitimate needs, our symptoms vanish.
But until that happens, we actually need the damn symptoms.
Because they remind us of where to put our attention.