When the going gets tricky…

It’s a tricky time just now, following on from a long sequence of tricky times. Pandemic, lockdown, un-lockdown, skyrocketing energy costs, rising food prices, sewage pouring into watercourses… war…


It’s a tricky time. And it might not make sense - was life ever supposed to be like this? And where are we in all of it? What can we do in all of it? How do we ‘make do’ when what it is we’re making do is changing so rapidly that our reach mightn’t feel long enough (or strong enough) to grasp?

What is it like, living in this reality? How is it to be unable to control, to be at the mercy of something that mightn’t hear our needs, that can appear oblivious to our wants, or that seems unappeasable? Is there a sense of feeling capable, although challenged; or is it more a feeling of overwhelm and powerlessness?

It is important to acknowledge that sometimes life is just really, really tough, and we might be between that rock and a hard place. The choices available might be stark. And no amount of turning a frown upside down, or looking on the bright side is going to suddenly improve systemic hardship or our natural responses to it.

Feeling frightened, feeling frustrated, feeling angry, feeling helpless might well be truly understandable. And at the same time, I wonder whether, if it feels that way, that’s at all a familiar feeling. Could we have felt that way in the past? A past when we might have felt powerless or helpless against a more powerful whim or dictate?

If there is a sense of familiar territory here, if the smoke signals of the past cling to life as it’s lived now, and if it feels as though the responses to the demands of the here and now are amplified or affected by those smoke signals, then perhaps it would be helpful to share this in therapy.

How can therapy help?

Therapy isn’t a magic wand that makes things better, suddenly creates change, or somehow creates positivity in the middle of what might be a deeply troubling experience or set of challenges. Therapy is about working with and exploring experiences and challenges with a view to deepening self-awareness.

It’s about working together in creating a sense of being in the present that isn’t driven by the past but rather is informed by it. It’s a learning about how past patterns developed to enable survival and how they could be colouring how survival is encoded in the present, when a different perspective might be more helpful.

Therapy won’t make troubles vanish. A therapist can’t create a different reality or forecast how change might occur.

Therapy can be thought of as the journey, the process. It is what is there to be discovered.

It is being accompanied. It is working together, collaboratively, supportively, to understand how patterned choices have developed, and working to develop different ways of experiencing choice. And in these current tricky times… mightn’t that be really helpful?

And as a note, it could feel difficult to think about therapy when times are tricky. It’s a financial commitment for a start and that can feel hard. Many therapists, however, including myself, offer concessionary rates for a limited number of places and if therapy sounds worth exploring and helpful, then that might be something about which to ask.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Quenington, Gloucestershire, GL7 5BG
Written by Merri Mayers, MBACP
Quenington, Gloucestershire, GL7 5BG

Merri Mayers, an MBACP registered counsellor, works near Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Merri is an integrative therapist employing the most effective aspects of person centred, gestalt, psychodynamic, systemic and TA models. She works relationally, understanding that how we engage with others can illuminate how we see and feel about ourselves.

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