The First Step

Each of the posts on this site addresses a psychological conflict or emotional fact I’ve come to regard as central to the human experience.  I try to illustrate these issues with examples from my own psychotherapy practice or personal life.  At the end of each post, the section Finding Your Own Way contains some suggestions for how to use these ideas to further your journey of personal growth.

If you’ve had some therapy before, begin by accepting that the issues you dealt with are more than likely still active in one way or another.  My own therapist told me on many occasions that we can never get rid of any part of our psyche; we can only hope to grow and develop other aspects of ourselves to cope with the problem areas.  As you wander through this site, begin with the same assumption:  you can’t unload any of your baggage along the journey, but enlarging self-awareness and growing new emotional capacities will make the load much easier to carry.

Unlike most other self-help resources, this site aims to help you confront feelings and conflicts outside of awareness, not to conquer a familiar issue.  I’m less interested in teaching techniques for how to manage anxiety, say, than to show how disowned emotions can lead to panic attacks, and to help visitors move closer to those feelings — as any good therapist would do.  In order to make use of this site, you’ll have to do most of the work, of course, just as you’d have to do if you were in face-to-face psychotherapy.  I often remind my clients of the obvious:  “I’m here with you for 50 minutes each week; the rest of the time you’re on your own.”  The challenges contained in these posts are be integrated into your daily life and into your ongoing practice of self-reflection.  Find the ones that resonate with your experience and see how far they can take you along the road.

By Joseph Burgo

Joe is the author and the owner of, one of the leading online mental health resources on the internet. Be sure to connect with him on Google+ and Linkedin.


  1. You wrote -“you can’t unload any of your baggage along the journey, but enlarging self-awareness and growing new emotional capacities will make the load much easier to carry“.
    This insight reaffirms what I have also come to believe. Self-improvement, in almost every instance, can only be an additive process. It would be nice if I could actually remove problematic parts of my psyche, but my experience has shown me otherwise. Any attempt that I made to remove something has only led to it only being buried more deeply into my subconscious – actually making things worse.
    I view my psyche as irreducible – everything is too interconnected to be isolated into individual parts. The problem parts of my psyche can only be exposed through better self-awareness. Once this is done, and I realize that in some way they will always be a part of me, I must add new capacities to the rest of my psyche to better handle these problem areas.

    1. Very well said. I also wish I could remove parts of myself — life would be so much easier that way! — but like you, I find that the only real help is to develop larger capacities.

    1. I don’t believe you have to forgive everyone. Some acts are unforgivable. But you need to find a way to put it behind you all the same.

  2. I find that because I cant forgive the person and carry hate in my heart for them which I was brought up to believe is a really bad trait to have. I cant find away of finding closure. If that makes since??

    1. I understand about being told hatred is a bad trait — so many of us have gotten that message; you should begin by accepting that hatred is entirely natural, but that holding onto it may be a way of avoiding or defending against some other feeling.

  3. I too remember my therapist telling me that we cannot change our basic personality (our psyche). It would be very easy if we could remove the parts of our selves that we do not like, but I think understanding those parts, coming to accept that they will always be there and learning new ways of ‘being’ (acting and reacting) makes for a very different life.

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