How do I know I'm doing okay?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Chloe Goddard McLoughlin (Reg BACP, BA, Ad Dip, Dip) Counsellor/Psychotherapist
13th December, 20170 Comments
“I’m okay thanks”, covers a lot doesn’t it? It’s a response we often give when we are asked how we are doing and it’s a good cover for a range of emotions and states of mind. So, a useful way in to “I’m okay” is to ask yourself “how do I know I’m okay?”.
For many busy professionals, the idea of downtime is an elusive dream just out of our grasp. We are always on, reachable and trackable 24/7 by technology and we have become accustomed to instant gratification, whether it’s getting stuff delivered in one hour delivery slots or becoming addicted to the dopamine drip of electronic likes.
So “how do I know I’m okay?” is a good question to ask ourselves, as it allows us to take a moment of reflection – when we pause for a moment, we then notice all sorts of things going on for us internally from the rhythm of our own heart beat, to often ignored aches and pains and stiffness. If we pay attention to how we experience emotion in the body, often we will notice incongruities. This is because we often say one thing and communicate another. Tension and anxiety ends up stored in the body, and can be seen in tensed shoulders, feelings of something being stuck in the chest, sitting on the edge of a chair, clenched muscles and tapping feet.
It can be a surprise for people to realise just how much anxiety and tension they carry around with them. Non-verbal clues provide rich information as they often represent feelings of which we are unaware. Being alert for gaps in attention and awareness and for incongruities between what we say and what we do with our bodies, gives us important information to how we are really doing.
Self-care is an important part of growth and transformation and it starts with self-awareness. The best gift we can give ourselves is to pay attention to our feelings and allow a pause in the flow of our lives.
So, if you find yourself rushing around, feeling powerless to stop, take a minute to ask yourself these questions:
- "What am I running from?"
- "Can I actually slow down?"
- "How does it feel to slow down?"
- "And then, what do I choose to do with this information?"
The most important relationship we can have is with ourselves, and often it’s the one we neglect the most. It’s not always possible to do the work ourselves on our own. Having a therapist who can encourage you to reflect on your own process means that you can begin to develop your own reflective muscle, so that next time someone asks how you are doing, you have the inner tools to be able to answer.
About the author
I trained to be a counsellor after a career in journalism. While superficially these two worlds of journalism and counselling seem to have little in common, they are linked by a desire to get to the heart of a story. In both fields you need to pay close attention to what you can hear, see and feel to understand how it is to walk in another's shoes.
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