There is an old Indian proverb, which goes something like this:
A young woman came to her grandmother crying. She was so unhappy in her relationship and wanted her grandmother’s advice. She spoke for a long time about her partner’s faults, their rows and her blind frustrations, palpitations and anxiety. The grandmother listened for a long time and eventually spoke. She asked her granddaughter when had her partner changed? The young woman replied "he hasn’t, he was always the same". The grandmother looked at her soulfully and said... "then my darling, it’s you who needs to change".
When the time came, for me to stop looking outside myself for the source of my problems and stop living in the frightening past and future of my own mind, I took a deep breath and began to look into my heart and trust what I would find there.
Reading a recent article in the Harvard Mental Health Newsletter, which suggested that future psychological therapies would be based on more positive approaches in psychotherapy and programs developed in the areas of emotional intelligence and wellness programs, I looked for a therapist who would give me a say in my own change process, someone who would offer me the tools to handle long-term problems as they arose in everyday life.
Accepting that it was me who needed to change, took courage. Placing the emphasis on actively accepting (rather than passively accepting) and committing to living in a whole new and responsible way, offered me a whole new and responsible perspective. My therapist suggested that I take the tools she offered me weekly and hone my skill in using them, much as I would hone my skills in any other area of my life. She added the metaphor that, "if I wanted to learn how to play the guitar, I would have to pick up the instrument and learn to play the chords". This approach made me aware of practising and of how futile it was to seek and find answers in others, whilst blatantly ignoring my own lack of impute.
Active awareness brought clarity and an alertness of the effect of positive and negative thinking. And of the crippling effects of angry self-berating. Therapy made me aware of self-responsibility. It made me aware that I could be my own best friend. This perspective offered choice. And the understanding that even if I didn’t make a choice, that too, was a choice. Self-compassion which took no little acclimatising to get my head and heart around, yielded results which still baffle and delight. These simple but complex tools help me daily to locate the me I always wanted to be.