Therapists, ideally, are non-judgmental. They listen, and offer new ways of seeing things, and possibly suggestions about how you might deal with issues that bother you.
There are times when I think my therapist is judging me. Her body language—tightened lips, shaking head, etc—suggests she doesn’t approve of something I’m saying. I already judge myself badly for some choices I might make. Maybe I'm projecting, but I think my therapist looks a bit shocked, occasionally, by the things I tell her I do. Anyway, her mien changes. She gets more serious. Leans back in her chair. Doesn’t laugh as much.
She points out the harm such choices might cause, and opines that I probably wouldn’t want to create such harm. Which is right. I don’t. I start to beat myself up.
Then I tell myself to stop that. I also want what I would gain through these choices very much. It’s not an issue of being good or bad. It’s not an issue of deserving or not. It’s an issue of understanding what is likely to happen, and making choices with as complete a knowledge as I can have. I could be projecting my own feelings about what I’m saying on her. I see or imagine disapproval everywhere. So it is a big step forward for me to stand up for myself or like myself, even when I know what I am doing will not make me liked by the people whose attention I seek.
It’s hard to know for sure the consequences of what I’m doing. It’s a big risk. I could end up isolated and unsupported no matter what I do. God knows what would happen then. I might not care to care for myself. On the other hand, it also might show strength—that I can go my own way even if I don’t have the approval of others. I’ve never really done that before. I’ve always needed to please people so they’ll like me.
It’s very complicated and I don’t know what is inside me and what is outside me and who is judging what and I certainly do not know what the right thing to do is. That the right thing to do is not obvious to me is also disturbing in its own right.
How is it for you? How does your therapist treat you? Do you think they like you? Do they disapprove of things you do—or of you? Do the actively intervene in your life? Do you project their disapproval on them, or are they really disapproving?