Hesitant about getting therapy? Harry Styles has an important message for you
Harry Styles has opened up about his experiences of therapy after seeking professional help for his mental health. And as the musician so rightly explains, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you.
Look at any recent photos of Harry Styles and you’ll see that the songwriter is undoubtedly living his best life right now. Whether storming the Coachella stage in a sequinned Gucci jumpsuit, posing for magazine covers in platforms heels and pearls, or creating one chart-topping hit after another, the man who was once one-fifth of the world’s most famous boyband has flourished into a consummate showman.
As much as Styles can always be relied upon to deliver sonic joy “on a summer evenin’”, the musician showed an altogether different side to his personality when he opened up about his mental health journey.
In a new interview with Better Homes & Gardens, Styles revealed that he started therapy five years ago. Taking the first step wasn’t easy: the musician was hesitant to seek help in the beginning for fear of being “a music industry cliché”.
“I thought it meant that you were broken,” he explained. “I wanted to be the one who could say I didn’t need it.”
Once he started the process, however, Styles quickly discovered that speaking to a professional allowed him to “open up rooms in himself” that he didn’t know existed.
Therapy, he continued, also allowed him to unpick his habit of “emotionally coast[ing]” through life and feel the full range of his emotions – including those commonly thought of as negative emotions.
“I think that accepting living, being happy, hurting in the extremes, that is the most alive you can be,” he continued.
“Losing it crying, losing it laughing – there’s no way, I don’t think, to feel more alive than that.”
Styles, whose highly anticipated third album Harry’s House arrives on 20 May, also reflected on the split of One Direction in 2016.
While isolating during the pandemic, he explained, he began reflecting on why he cares so much about being likable. After talking it over with his therapist, he came to the realisation that although he was conditioned into being a people-pleaser during his time on The X Factor, that the drive for approval also stems from a deeper desire for control.
“In lockdown, I started processing a lot of stuff that happened when I was in the band,” he said, noting that he was encouraged to give much of himself away in order “to get people to engage with you, to like you”.
Styles went on to explain that cleanliness clauses in his One Direction contracts caused him to overthink everything he said in interviews for fear that he would jeopardise the reputation and success of the band.
When he finally embarked on his solo career and signed a contract where he did not have to censor himself in the same way, he felt such a profound sense of relief that he burst into tears.
“I felt free,” he added.
The liberation Styles has found in his new path is clear to see. And while he’s not alone in previously feeling like therapy is for those who can’t get their life together, the honesty he has shown in sharing both his misconceptions and experiences will go a long way in fighting stigma around mental health.
Therapy, as Styles explains, can be a huge factor in healing. And when we’re equipped us with the tools to solve problems in a healthy way, we can indeed live a happier life.
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