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  • Writer's pictureEvangelia Mylona

Therapy As a Cycle of "Death and Rebirth" of The Self

We come into therapy at a particular stage in life where something feels off and we can’t seem to be able to ignore it any longer. Most times people tend to reach out for therapy is about solving a specific issue; that could be around work, a relationship gone wrong, a loss of some kind…All it takes is for a problem to “sit on the surface” and make everyday life troubled and uncomfortable enough, that the person has no choice other than to do something about it.

When we come to therapy, we can make a choice to work only on the presenting issue, which can help us remove an obstacle, and clear the way for a more comfortable day to day existence. However, we can also choose to look deeper. My understanding is that people need to speak their truth, even when they are not aware of it; We don’t only communicate through words, but through actions, gestures, movements, pain in the body, a sigh, a look.

To look deeper is not a choice made lightly. If we decide to change, that does feel many times like a “death”, a letting go of the familiar self, the familiar habit, the comfort of the known. I feel that if we agree to let go of some aspect of our “old self” and embrace the unknown, only then can we truly move forward towards a change and our own evolution. Our tolerances though, our behaviours and habits, are familiar and comfortable, and our defence system will rebel against any change, as it will perceive it as a threat to our safety.

How do I go about this then, you ask? First of all breathe and let go and trust that your unfamiliar will be familiar in time, and you will become something new.

We let go, we “die”, but that part of us or the shadow of it, still remains in our psyche. The process can go like this:


Decide to really look into yourself, observe what does not work for you now.

Step 2

Understand why you needed it in the first place and observe the reasons it may not be necessary any longer.

Step 3

Allow yourself to let it go, move toward the new, be prepared to feel trepidation and self-doubt, but embrace the new anyway. Then you can take the time to process “the loss of the old self” until the past and present form a new version of yourself that embodies all of you.

The understanding of our defence mechanisms is very important here, as its not an obstacle to get rid of, rather it is a formation of habits and behaviours that we needed at some point in our lives so that we could adapt to our then reality, as best as possible. We change by not discarding aspects of us, but by evolving and updating them; “building” around them if you like.

Death and rebirth of the self is what can happen in therapy if we decide to “lift the veil” and make space for the unspoken and suppressed. What we can discover is That which the self has been suppressing, an aspect of its existence ignored for too long, and once given the space, it tends to push through and spill out like a reawakened volcano. This “rebirth” of the self can be painful and bring with it a sense of loss, fear and sadness.

However, the “death” of the old self does not have to be an insurmountable loss. With guidance and help from a therapist, this can become a valuable and supportive experience, and a nurturing and forgiving process, filled with self-compassion and understanding that once we let go of the aspects of our selves that don’t serve our reality any longer and embrace our “new-born” self, we can move toward a more authentic and fulfilling existence.

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