Is it time to spring clean your life?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Sophie Thorne, PG Dip, MBACP, Accred.
7th March, 20160 Comments
Spring can be a time to get busy cleaning, tidying and organising your home. But how often do you really look at those dark nooks and crannies of your inner self? You may prefer to avoid doing this, for all sorts of reasons:
- Fear of what you will find within – anger, anxiety, despair?
- Fear of what this may mean to you – am I bad, stupid, useless?
- Fear of having to do something about the problem if you acknowledge it.
- Fear of not being able to address the problem.
Many people can “coast” when they are not actually in crisis, feeling that something’s not quite right, yet finding it easier to stay “stuck” than to make an effort to change things that are causing them distress.
How could you start to make changes to the things in your life that are making you unhappy?
1) Identify the problem. Rather than feeling “everything’s wrong”, be more specific, e.g. “I am stressed at work and feel I can’t cope” or “I feel too depressed to achieve anything”. Even before you start working on the issue, you have done something useful by acknowledging that you are struggling with something and in putting it into words.
2) If there are a number of problems, pick the one you feel it’s most important to work on.
3) Think about a situation where this problem makes life difficult or distressing for you, e.g. ”I feel so anxious, I can’t go to the party tonight.”
4) Think about that particular situation and notice how it affects your thoughts, feelings, behaviour and bodily sensations.
5) What could you do differently? For example, could you try relaxation techniques to make a difference to how your body feels? Could you notice emotions that come up and acknowledge them, rather than thinking they “mean” something about you? Could you use a different behaviour, e.g. sharing worries with a friend? Could you challenge your thoughts and reframe the situation?
Of course, step five is the hardest one! You may find that making even small changes yourself can positively feed back into your situation and improve it, giving you the confidence and resilience to carry on. However, many people know what they’d like to change, but need a bit of help managing it, and this is where counselling comes in. Counselling provides a safe, neutral and boundaried space, where you can explore fears or worries, however irrational, without fear of judgement. Counselling can help to identify.
- Where the problem came from.
- What’s keeping it going.
- What resources you already have to help deal with it.
- How you can tackle things in a different way.
Like that cupboard full of junk that you never get round to sorting out, unaddressed fears or worries can leave you feeling anxious, despairing or incompetent. So why not be brave, and start to spring clean your life today?
About the author
I am a counsellor and supervisor working in private practice and at a clinic offering affordable therapy. I work primarily from a psychodynamic perspective, but also find a CBT approach valuable in client work. I am a great believer that the client/counsellor relationship is the basis on which therapeutic change is built.
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