Coping with long term challenges
Sometimes clients come to counselling to talk about a long term problem that is not going to change, for example a degenerating physical problem, or a loved one having died. They may be experiencing over-whelming feelings that dominate day to day life.
Learning to cope with something you cannot change can be a tough process, but the rewards make it worth it. When intense feelings of anger or sadness are assaulting you, it can seem impossible to get over them.
The truth is that you don’t need to get over or away from painful feelings. In fact, the effort to get away from what hurts often leads to the feelings getting bigger and stronger as if your system was turning up the volume to try and get you to take heed. Feelings are messages from your unconscious mind, they ask you to notice your need to heal.
When you are in the grips of strong feelings you may find yourself acting in ways you later regret, as if the strength of the feeling had switched off your ability to choose your actions. Other times, you may find you bury feelings deep inside, this avoidance has consequences in your life too. Either approach can not only damage health; relationships and work can suffer too.
Instead of avoiding or acting out feelings, learning to be with emotions calmly can be powerful. When you do this you can begin to understand what the feelings are trying to tell you. Deeply experiencing your feelings and learning to live through them offers you freedom from the need to act them out. This can make a big difference to your quality of life, and the impact you have on those you love.
There are many different ways of making a connection with the way you feel, meditation, movement arts like yoga and T’ai Chi, journalling, painting and other expressive arts are just a few. Finding acceptance of what is happening to you is far from easy at times, and yet it offers a long term way of thriving despite whatever life might throw your way.
If you want to do more than just survive, talking about your experience with a counsellor may be an important part of the journey towards you finding peace.
About the author
Fe Robinson is a Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor working in Durham on Mondays and Wednesdays. Her mission is to enable clients to find peace and contentment, whatever their life circumstances. Fe is UKCP accredited and BACP registered, offers EMDR, and holds a Diploma in Supervision. Fe works both in the NHS and in private practice.
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