Therapy - the gift we give ourselves
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Lyn Reed, MBACP (Registered), Ad.Prof Dip.PC, Dip.PC, B.A., M.A., Adv.Dip.CQSW
28th November, 2014
This is the season of giving. Giving is a pleasant activity so it usually feels good. It is something we like to do.
Yet when we reach a stage in our lives when we feel we have given all we have to give, we may decide to seek therapy. By understanding our feelings of emptiness, we can come to realise that by giving all we have in order to help others, we have left ourselves 'emotionally bankrupt'. This can leave us wondering how we are going to cope now that our own internal 'savings account' is depleted. Therapy can enable us to take time out and reflect on what effect giving can have on us and on our relationships with others.
Sometimes we need space to discover why we have given so much. Sometimes it is hard to see that the person to whom we are giving our time, support and advice may themselves feel overwhelmed by our concerns. Which is probably not what we intended to do at all!
Giving can improve our sense of well-being and often strengthens relationships. It shows the other person how much we appreciate them. Yet giving can also place an unintended but heavy pressure on others. The act of giving can develop into an 'empty habit' - perhaps it is something we have always done and continue to do without awareness. If this is the case, perhaps we need to ask ourselves: whose needs are being met by all this giving? If the extent of our giving seems to become a dominant behaviour, then it may be a sign we are taking rather than giving. In other words, we could be dis-empowering the very person to whom we are giving.
Therapy can help us understand the reasons why we are 'givers'; it can also help restore some balance in our behaviour. If we wish to do this, we do not need to become 'takers'; but it can be beneficial to reflect and think about what or who is driving our behaviour.
Saying 'thank you' and letting others know how much we appreciate them are invaluable gifts. They come without a price tag - as long as they are given with genuineness. They can become part of our emotional bank balance. From this we can build our inner selves on firmer footing. Writing down how we feel when we give and when we receive, like balancing the books, can help us to keep our emotional health in check.
Being aware of why, how and when we give can provide us with invaluable insights into our behaviour. How we behave towards others is a gift we have within ourselves. Therapy can help us to use it wisely. Sometimes it is best to hold back, reflect and think about the act of giving - in whatever form.
Used wisely, giving can reaffirm within us a belief in genuine giving which is a reward in itself. When we do, it can be a gift which is received by the other person with a deep sense of appreciation and acceptance.
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