Don't just do something, sit there!
There is an old zen joke that advises 'don't just do something, sit there.' We are so used to hearing the opposite, expecting to be busy, and habitually distracting ourselves, that it can seem a very odd idea to just sit.
When you are feeling anxious or ruminating, it is easy for your actions to become increasingly frantic, and for you to be driven by a sense of fear. You may naturally want to avoid unpleasant feelings, and so unwittingly distract yourself, diverting attention away from your fears, or just staying busy inside your head thinking and thinking with the result of staving off your emotions in the short term.
Oftentimes, to heal, we need to stop. To stop chasing, stop avoiding, stop over-thinking. We need to dare to look at ourselves and to be honest about what we find when we do. Facing uncomfortable truths about yourself, your life, your relationships, your work or whatever it is that you are not facing into, may sound difficult, and yet it alleviates pain and stops suffering in the longer term.
The role of therapy is to help you build your resilience to a point where you feel able to look, to listen, and to feel what it is that is going on inside you. It is here, inside, that the answers lie. Life continues on, always bringing it's joys and its challenges. This we cannot change. What we can do is address how we meet life, how we respond to it. This may mean developing the ability to withstand strong emotions, or learning how to have meaningful conversations with those close to us, or perhaps it is about tolerating distressing thoughts and in time letting them go. We are all different, we each have our own unique way forward.
If you are ready to explore and enhance your experience of life, perhaps now is the time to just not do something. Instead, sit still with yourself and see what you discover.
For support in coming to know yourself more fully and in allowing your best self to emerge, consider getting in touch with a counsellor.
About the author
Fe Robinson is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor working in Durham on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 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.
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