How to get unstuck and to the bottom of your problems
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Christine Hopfgarten MBACP (accred), BABCP (accred), BPC, PgDip CBT, PgDip Psych
10th September, 20150 Comments
We have all experienced the frustration and hopelessness that comes with the problems we have to deal with in our life. Sometimes it seems we have thought about the same problem and talked it over so many times, it seems impossible it will ever shift or we will ever be able to change anything about it.
What often happens is that we get so stuck in our thinking and feeling patterns that we literally become blind to finding a solution. What is really needed is a shift in perspective, for us to see something which will help us to find the answer. The "aha" moment, we are all looking for!
There are some great techniques adapted from the Method of Levels approach and from Gestalt Therapy, which can help us to achieve exactly that and get things moving again.
You can use this technique with any problem. Why don't you give it a go? Maybe start with a smaller problem. Have some fun with it and be creative. There is no right or wrong way of doing this.
What you will need to do is to sit down and focus at least 10 minutes entirely on your problem and describe it in as much detail as possible in ways you might never have looked at it previously.
When you have identified a problem, ask yourself the following questions and write down the answers - the more details the better!
- Describe your problem in detail - when it happens, where it happens and what exactly happens.
- How big is the problem? Is it always the same size? What makes it smaller or bigger?
- What would help to change its size?
- Where in your body do you feel the problem? Is it inside or outside your body? Behind or in front of you? Taking over your whole body or nagging in the back of your head?
- Can you see it clearly or is it blurry? Does it have clear defined edges?
- If you would give it a colour, what would it be?
- Is it heavy, pulling you down or in a certain direction?
- What is it the problem wants you to do and what might change its mind?
- What do you think and feel when you hear yourself talking about your problem?
- What do you think an outsider would think and feel listening to you?
- What other experiences in your past does this remind you off?
- What happens inside your body when you talk about your problem? Do you feel tension, energy, heat, nausea.... where in your body?
An example would be that you would feel "Everything is just too much for me!". Going through the questions you might find that it is not everything, but in particular when people make demands on you and that too much means that you feel overwhelmed and not able to meet all of those demands. You might think you just want to get away from everything and feel lonely and frustrated. The problem is so big it takes over your whole body and even some space around you, sitting heavily on top of you and pushing you to the ground.
What might change it is if you could place it to one side for some time, so you can get some space and it can get settle in its own place. The colour might be a blue-grey and what the problem is trying to do is to force you to stop. Other people who would listen to you might think that maybe what you need is to take on less of other people's problems and needs. You also remember that it was always important for your parents that you did your best and were a high achiever - they had a lot of demands placed on you and sometimes it felt like it was never good enough.
These are only a few examples of what you might discover.
Reading the last paragraph, you might already see that things suddenly start to open up and you might see your problem from a very different perspective. You will most likely also notice that you feel differently about your problem. Something has shifted...
And not only that. Suddenly some of the solutions might seem very obvious and logical! (Maybe what you need is to put other people's demands to one side for some time and you might also realise that the demands placed on you by others and which you place on yourself are very unrealistic.) That is exactly what we are looking for! Stopping the same old story of the same old problem and seeing yourself and your problem in a different light can often be the trick that is needed to get more clarity. Giving the problem some definition and detail can truly help to find the solutions in yourself.
We all have the key to our own happiness, but sometimes it takes some help and a different perspective to find it!
About the author
Christine Hopfgarten is a psychodynamic psychotherapist and CBT Therapist based in London who is experienced in helping clients to get unstuck and gain a different perspective. She uses her experience from working creatively with a wide variety of clients and is particularly skilled in helping clients to get to the bottom of their problems.
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