Is “Powering Through It” Really A Good Thing?

I recently received a text citing a friend doing something that was hard for him, and struggling with it. “It’s ok, though,” said the text, “he’s powering through it.” 

“Blech,” I thought to myself. Then I typed “Is that really actually good, though?”.  And then I deleted it, because nobody was asking for my opinion and it wasn’t time to start a whole big thing over text. And now I’m writing a blog post about it. So here it is:

I hate the term “powering through.” It’s right up there with “snowflake” and “get over it” as my least favorite unhelpful things to say to or about someone. And looking around the therapy world, people seem to be “powering through” stuff left and right. Am I missing something about how great this supposedly is? 

Here’s why I think we should reconsider the achievement that is “powering through it”:

 Powering Through Rushes Us Past Important Experiences.

One of my favorite speakers, Glennon Doyle, says of bearing witness to a friend’s pain: “When her pain is fresh and new, let her have it. Don’t try to take it away…Grief and pain are like joy and peace; they are not things we should try to snatch from each other. They’re sacred. They are part of each person’s journey.”

We live in a culture in which efficiency and quickness feel essential to our success. We feel we need to do everything faster and better in order to keep up with one another (what does that even mean?), and we often rush past our own emotional experiences without really being in touch with our inner lives at all. In order to maintain the status quo (going to work, performing our duties, keeping up with our homes and the cooking and our exercise routines, etcetera), we compartmentalize difficult feelings, pushing them aside to be dealt with at a later time, which sometimes ends up being…never. I believe this Ito be one of the most significant way that human beings cheat ourselves: We resist touching base with the rich wisdom stirring inside of us, and miss out on the lessons of life – the ones gained via the journey that we take within. 

I don’t know about you, but the parts of my life in which I’ve learned and grown the most have been the sticky parts – the parts that required reflection, time, tears, humility, and some amount of discomfort. There’s been plenty of wisdom in the joyous parts, too, but the most authentic elements of myself have sprung from sitting with my fear, my doubt, my anger, and my grief. I now have immense gratitude for the difficulties I’ve endured. And trust me, it all sucked at the time. 

Powering Through is Management, Not Healing. 

I frequently get calls from potential clients seeking “management tools.” This must be a hot button phrase that was mentioned somewhere and picked up by the general public, because when I ask what a caller is looking for from therapy, more times than not I’ll hear a version of it: “tools to get through the school day,” or “ways to manage my fears,” or “stress management techniques.”  Basically, we want a way to deal with whatever emotional experience we’re having without creating any disruption in our often over-scheduled lives. We want to manage. 

That’s one thousand percent fair, and honestly, powering through our scary emotions and experiences is a good way to get there. The problem is, it’s a shortcut, and shortcuts don’t often lend themselves to lasting change. If we wish to simply survive, we can power through indefinitely, until we are managing so many things that we become overwhelmed, or sick, or burnt out, (or all of the above), and are forced to take a break and examine ourselves. When we get there, however we get there, we arrive at a place of stillness – of no longer powering through anything. And when we do that, we give ourselves the space to stop the managing, and to start healing. 

Where management ignores, healing listens. Where management is hard, healing is pliable. Where management is isolating, healing provides community. Where management holds on tight, healing lets go. Where management is painful, healing is…well, often also painful, but ultimately, soothing. 

If we feel we must power through, there’s no shame in that. But (and) it’s the healing that will set us free. 

Powering Through is Mean.

I can’t think of a more eloquent way to put it, so I’ll just state it plain – pushing ourselves through difficult emotions and experiences without taking any time to examine and process them is disrespectful, and downright mean to ourselves. Feelings come up for a reason, and they are always trying to help us, even when they do it in misguided or unhelpful ways. 

Whether it’s telling us to be afraid because there’s a lion in front of us about to bite our head off, or creating fear of something benign due to a phobia that’s developed because of a previous trauma is irrelevant. Either way, the intent is positive: parts of us are seeking to protect us from something they deem potentially harmful. We don’t need to dismiss their messages as “stupid” or brush them off because they are “irrational,” because by doing so we are basically bullying ourselves and reinforcing a pattern of ignoring our instincts. Instead, we can choose to acknowledge the message or feeling (in this example, fear or anxiety), appreciate it for coming up to guide us, and make a determination from our center (core, Self) as to whether or not to do what it’s telling us to do. No bullying, shaming, or powering through required. 

And so…

Because of the dictates of our fast-paced culture and very busy lives, it can be incredibly difficult to find the time really get in touch with ourselves and feel our feelings, especially the yucky and uncomfortable ones. At times, we might opt to power through a feeling or experience, ignoring the messages the mind and body are sending our way. Doing this once might be a nod to the stress that is daily living. Doing this over and over, however, cuts us off from vital parts of ourselves, and disables our ability to truly learn and grow through the pain of life. 

Originally posted on my blog, Common Humanity, at Psych To read more, visit


Useful Information

Some frequently asked questions and useful answers.

Online therapy works in the same way as in-office therapy, but is done online, similar to a Skype or FaceTime conversation. Clients are able to have sessions from home, work, or any other convenient location. We meet with clients using a HIPAA-compliant secure platform.

Online therapy allows you to work with us from the comfort of home, or any private location of your choosing. For some, the screen provides an added layer of comfort that makes the challenging work of being vulnerable in therapy a little easier.

Online therapy also creates the unique opportunity for you to work with us without the constraints of proximity! The practice was born in Keene, New Hampshire, but has since grown to service clients anywhere in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Florida, and New Hampshire.

Online therapy is a great option for clients that travel for work, for college students that go home during the summertime and do not want a break in their sessions, and for anyone with a challenging or inconsistent day-to-day schedule. It is an excellent choice for clients seeking a therapist with a particular specialty that they are unable to find support for locally. Some of our clients report that online therapy makes the vulnerability element of therapy a bit less intimidating.

No. For some clients with more complex symptoms or safety concerns, having a local therapist that is readily available is important in case of crisis or the need for a higher level of care. Online therapy is also a challenge for clients that do not have access to a private, quiet space to be “in session” for the hour, or for those that do not have adequate internet connectivity.

There are several reasons why we don’t accept insurance. The most important are:

Confidentiality. Insurance companies require that your information be shared with them in order to pay for services. We prefer that clients’ information is kept as confidential as possible.

The pressure to diagnose. Insurance companies require that clients are given a mental health diagnosis in order to pay for therapy. We have found that many clients benefit from therapy, but do not meet criteria for a diagnosis. Not using insurance allows clients to access therapy without being given a mental health diagnosis.

Flexibility and freedom. Insurance companies dictate the length and number of sessions they will authorize, as well as when a client is no longer eligible for the benefits of therapy. Because we do not work with insurance panels, you and we can collaborate to determine your individual needs regarding session length, frequency of sessions, and when to terminate therapy.

While we do not accept insurance, many clients choose to submit receipts to their insurance companies to receive reimbursement via out-of-network benefits. We are happy to provide these receipts for you! Please check with your insurance company for details on your benefits.



Read some of our latest testimonials to see why others put their trust in us.

Ready To Get Started?

Get the support you need from anywhere with online therapy.

Enter your email address for special offers, new services, resources and the latest blog posts right to your inbox.