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Coping with difficult , painful experiences and feelings

I want to consider in this article that you might have learned to cope with difficult and painful experiences and feelings by developing ways to distance yourself from them. While this may have helped you to cope with those experiences and feelings, maybe now this way of coping might itself cause difficulties in how you relate in your relationships and how you might be feeling about yourself. That if your coping mechanisms are no longer helping you, perhaps now is the time to consider seeking psychological help through working with counsellor.                         

Feelings and experiences

I wonder, how do you cope with painful experiences and feelings? You might have learnt to live with experiences and feelings through denying them, thus you put them away somewhere like in a metaphorical box. It could feel risky in working with a counsellor to go towards these feelings and experiences, yet consider this; what is your life now, how are your relationships, and are you really happy?

For the purposes of this article I will use the term 'box', yet I recognise you could use other terms to describe where you might hide what you do not want to remember or feel.

While when you first found a way to put your experiences and feelings in a box, it could have been the only way you felt you could cope with your life, and it might have helped you continue living in the situation or situations you had to live in. However, is it helping you now? I guess the fact that you are reading this article could be saying something about what you are experiencing now, so please bear with me and keep reading. If you are feeling and experiencing difficulties in your relationships and keep repeating behaviours that are unhealthy for you, then just maybe it could be time to face what you have been trying to deny.

Beginning to face what you have denied

Now, you could be feeling trepidation in considering going anywhere near that box. A part of you might be saying a big 'no', and the other, while recognising it is time to face those feelings and or experiences, might find it hard to have a voice. Making that step towards working with a counsellor you can trust in order to explore what you have been trying to keep in a box, may well be a critical decision. Being certain you can trust your counsellor to be with you while you attempt to face what you have been denying, could take some time to feel.

I am going to describe how a Person Centred Counsellor will work with you in a delicate and accepting way. They will not force you to go to your box until you feel you are able to. Your fears will be accepted and understood. However, your counsellor can help you feel you have the strength to not only go to your box, but also open it up and experience what you have been trying to deny. The fear and trepidation you might feel about your box could actually make your box feel like it's a no go area. Now, I want to pose a question to you: If you fear your box, how big are you going to make that box become?

Having the strength to face the denied 

It can feel that you will never be able to cope with what you have spent a lot of your life denying. However, (and this is through experience with many clients), when you do delve into what you have denied you could be filled with many feelings, and a sense of relief for facing the fearful. And you might feel better about yourself for doing it.

I am not playing down how hard it can feel to face what you had to deny, yet I know you can have the strength to face yourself in therapy. Through therapy, you can start to feel differently about yourself with it opening up choices about how to feel about yourself and how to interact with those in your life.

Trust in your Counsellor

Therapy can certainly be a big step for many people, and to place your trust in your counsellor regarding the struggles you have about yourself, should never be taken lightly. A good counsellor will stay with you in whatever place you feel you are in, and will not judge you if you stumble and fall. Sometimes, it is through our mistakes we have the greatest learning, so in counselling you can pick yourself up and face an acceptance that you can continue to walk forward and onwards in your life.

How much do you value your mental health?

It might be a bumpy ride facing what you have been trying to deny, yet if you had a broken arm would you not want to get the best medical help to enable it to heal? And, therefore, should it be any different for your mental health? Consider the time it could take for your arm to fully heal, and the muscles you have not used while the arm was in plaster to gain strength again. Then, if you can accept that personal therapy will take as long as it needs to take to help you emotionally heal, you can be open to the positive changes it can bring to your life.


If you feel that you could benefit from working with a professional counsellor, use our search tool to find a counsellor near you.


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Written by Lee Allen Registered Member MBACP

I am a Person Centred Counsellor and Psychotherapist , with over sixteen years experience in private practice. I see adults, couples and young people from the age of sixteen.Some of the issues I work with include abuse , bereavement , depression , anxiety , stress , relationship difficulties , work related issues and low self esteem.… Read more

Written by Lee Allen Registered Member MBACP

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