Why people do what they do and choosing to change.
I've spent nearly 10 years now working in the field of counselling/therapy and social care and although I'm still learning everyday about what works, why people do what they do and how best to help them, I feel that I've developed some understanding over that time. The focus for most people generally coming for help is that they want to stop, or change behaviour that is damaging their own and sometimes other peoples lives so much.
Much of addiction treatment, for example, is primarily geared towards the kind of interventions that help people to think about why they do what they do and then to make other choices. It sounds simple and to some extent it works, but addiction, or dependancy as most addicted people will tell you, is a little bit more complex than that.
What I have found through my experience in the field is that most people presenting with drug and alcohol problems find that stopping is the easy part. What they then begin to uncover and discover is the function that their drug of choice has had for them over what can be many years of use and misuse and abuse.
Often people are self medicating themselves, they are using substances to manage feelings that often go back to key life events, that they have been unable to manage in any other way. These can be traumatic events, such as sexual and physical abuse. It can be a response to neglect often by their own addicted parents, being bullied, being abandoned, the list goes on.
The same applies in the process of treating any kind of destructive behaviour, including self harm, addiction, eating problems, inability to manage anger, or repeatedly finding ourselves in destructive relationships. The person involved is normally using that behaviour in order to cope with that which has so far been unmanageable.
Feelings of despair, rage, emptiness, loss, grief and shame begin to emerge as the therapy unfolds and with the release of these feelings, comes new understanding, peace, release, newfound joy and eventually forgiveness towards those who have hurt us or caused us pain. The need for the old behaviour in order to cope is replaced by new internal coping methods, realising that feelings are ok to have and to express and can be held by those supporting us (namely the therapist and often others in groups with the same problems) and coped with after all.
The journey is long and often rocky and of course requires commitment, endurance and faith- like any journey worth making.
By choosing to change you are opening yourself up to the possibilty of a different life, a better life, nobody said it would be easy, but the rewards are great.
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