Slaying your own dragons - why you shouldn’t wait to be rescued
Have you been waiting to be rescued from your depression, your anxiety or some other emotional difficulty? Well no-one is coming – at least, not in the way you might expect…
When we are children, we are told many tales of knights slaying dragons and princesses being saved from wicked witches - who can resist the thought of instant reprieve when all seems to be lost?
Psychotherapists spend a lot of time working to help people deal with difficult feelings: anxiety, sorrow, fear and anger to name a few. We also reflect with clients on where these feelings have come from, so that we can widen the choices people have.
Once we have understood the origins of our difficult feelings, we begin to know that we don’t always have to react in the ways we have in the past. We can choose a different response and get a different outcome. When these difficult feelings stem from a trauma, loss or disappointment, finding out the cause is pretty straightforward, but what if we don’t know where they come from?
For some people, the origins of these kinds of feelings are a mystery - lost in time and a source of bewilderment and frustration as they battle to make sense of the patterns they repeat and the mistakes they keep on making. One cause of this frustration can be the rage, pain and fear they feel that no-one is sorting things out for them. Other people are waiting for the perfect job or relationship to lift them out of their depression or panic. They are waiting to be rescued.
Why do we wait to be rescued?
For some of us it’s because a tiny part of our psyche is still childlike and has not worked out a way of coping with the stresses of adult life; that child-like element is waiting for something or someone to make it all better. This is often quite unconscious and therefore out of our control until the work of therapy brings it to the surface. It can be difficult to see the wood for the trees on our own, because our coping mechanisms are often formed when we are quite small, so that we are barely aware of them. Finding out what we do and why we do it when faced with difficult situations or feelings is a core part of the work of psychotherapy.
How can you rescue yourself?
For some people, the discovery that they have to rescue themselves is the moment they truly grow up. That is not to say that they are immature necessarily, only that the small, under-developed part of the psyche mentioned earlier is waiting for some magical solution that is just not coming. Waking up to the realisation that we are responsible for sorting out our own difficulties can be a real moment of maturation and growth. It also moves us towards a solution, rather than keeping us stuck in the same old patterns.
The key thing to remember is that other people cannot fill the void inside, fight your battles or take away your fears. Only you can perform the rescue you crave so urgently and facing up to that may be the most courageous thing you ever do.
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