All of me
Common questions asked in therapy are "What's wrong with me? " or "Can you fix me?" and I am always curious to explore what clients feel is wrong with them, or what needs fixing and where this began.
Person to person, I can identify with that feeling and with the thought processes that have contributed to those feelings. However, as a person-centred counsellor, I believe it's the environment that is wrong rather than the person but that doesn't help when people are carrying those feelings and may have been for a long time.
The missing ingredient
So, where to begin? There may be so much to explore within those initial questions, and therapy could be long term or short term depending on what people need but to begin with. There can be so much confusion around the underlying thoughts and feelings that people can struggle to identify the whys and wherefores of what's going on for them but generally, there is something amiss, something off-balance, something that doesn't feel right, like a recipe with an ingredient missing.
This is a horrible feeling and I believe it's a response to deeper things happening outside of our awareness. These feelings or this state of being, is the symptom alerting us to something being off-balance or undealt with, and it is uncomfortable but it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with us as people.
This is where I believe we can lose our sense of selves and lose the connection with ourselves.
Fear, anger, or sadness can set in causing anxiety and feelings of losing control. Our equilibrium has been lost and we can really lose our sense of wellbeing and resilience.
Balancing the scales
We can begin by looking at ourselves as a whole and asking which part of me is impacted, which part of me do I need to nourish?
Physically, how do I feel?
Do I hurt, ache or am I exhausted? Am I eating healthily and regularly? Am I taking some form of exercise? It doesn't have to be gym work or running a marathon, just a walk with the dog, a 20-minute easy workout, even a dance while doing the chores. All will raise your heartbeat and release endorphins, the much needed feel-good hormone.
Am I getting enough sleep?
Not having enough sleep can have a detrimental effect on us in many ways. Sleep is our chance to recharge our batteries and batteries won't last long half charged. Some people can function with less sleep than others but know what works for you and make sure you get what you need each night.
How do I feel mentally?
Then we can consider how we are mentally; what thoughts am I carrying or burying? Do I have any headspace or have I used up all my working memory? Is my head full of " things I need to do " or a "problem I'm trying to solve". What can I let go of for now to free up some headspace?
Mindfulness is a great way of quietening the mind and helps us to stay in the moment. Just take a few moments when we can to listen and hear, and to look and see, to touch and feel. Watching a candle burn or listening to a clock tick are great for staying in the moment.
How am I feeling?
Next, what's going on for us emotionally right now. Acknowledge the feeling without examining it or trying to push it away. So many of us want to do something about our feelings, and the process of therapy can certainly help us to understand our feelings. However, for the purposes of regaining the balance, just allow them in. Some of what your feeling may well be uncomfortable but it's just a feeling and it won't hurt you. It will come and it will go. It may be a feeling of happiness or contentment. Again, let it in, embrace it.
Another part of us that may be off-balance or neglected is that spiritual part of our being. Our way of believing in and connecting to something bigger than us. Whatever that may mean to you, it may be religion, the universe, crystal healing or any number of things that you believe in and feel nourish that part of you that's hidden, your soul. You may be on the path of spiritual discovery or experimentation- how exciting! Nourishing our soul gives us strength and grounding from within and can help us in our moments of doubt and fear.
Taking some time to nourish the parts of us I've written about, can give us back our sense of balance and reconnect us with ourselves, as a whole. We can begin to feel a sense of wellness rather than "wrongness "
Taking this sense of calmness, and the understanding of how we function as a whole into therapy with us can be the foundations for further self-exploration and self-discovery.
I believe there are no limits in therapy and the journey begins with you.