You don’t need fixing

There are huge industries based on selling us the idea that there’s something wrong with us and by following their plan, buying their product, and reading their book, we’re going to find the solution to all our problems and enable us to live happily ever after.


How many anti-ageing products are sold on the promise of reversing time, making us look younger? Celebrities pushing products that make us believe this will add something magical to our lives. We’re bombarded with messages that we are somehow inadequate, lacking or just plain wrong, but there is a way of sorting it: somewhere out there is a 'thing' that will make us complete, whole or perfect. There’s big money to be made out of the idea that you have a problem and someone can provide you with a solution, for a price: you need fixing!

I suppose many might include counselling and therapy in all that: if only I could work out the “thing” that is making me unhappy, and change it, then life would be a walk in the park. People often come to therapy because they want to be different, but often the changes they need to make aren’t huge life-changing changes, for example ending a relationship, moving abroad, or living off the grid. But small, doable changes that they can keep up with- little tweaks that make such a difference. And sometimes it’s just about looking at things differently, challenging the story we’ve been telling ourselves about why we’re not as happy as we want to be.

So, what are some good starting points?

What are some things we can do straight away that don’t require us to buy another self-help book or embark on a crazy fitness regime that is unsustainable?

Sit with your feelings

Many people are afraid of their feelings and do anything not to connect with them. Maybe we grew up in an environment where feelings weren’t acknowledged or squashed down so as adults we don’t know what they’re feeling. We might feel emotions 'aren’t allowed' so we feel compelled to do something to distract ourselves or to run away from them, such as drinking, shopping, or gambling. Other people don’t always help, asking things like “What have you got to be depressed about?”

Maybe we can just feel melancholy, sad, happy or confused without there being a reason, a need to justify. I read recently that if we allow our feelings to come out it takes 90 seconds for our bodies to reset themselves, and the feelings pass. The problem occurs when we fight the feelings or try to ignore them. So allow yourself to cry 'for no reason', and acknowledge the joy when you’re sitting in the sun with a cup of tea. They’re just feelings.

Live in the moment

Find joy – when we live in such a fast-paced world it’s easy to forget about the simple pleasures: hearing children laugh, being in awe of nature, and sitting by a fire on a winter’s evening. We’re always being told to live in the moment and just stopping to acknowledge those times of magic can make a huge difference to how we see the world and feel in ourselves. Just stop every now and again, be aware of what you can see, hear, smell, touch etc, ground yourself, and get out of your head and into just being present. It can make a huge difference.

Accept your flaws

We’ve all got bits of ourselves that we don’t like or like as much, it’s just part of being human. If it’s something that’s really bothering us and we can change it then we can always work on it, but there are some things we can’t change so learning to accept them is a better way to go. We’re never going to be the prettiest, most intelligent, most popular person on the planet so learning to just know and love ourselves can take off a lot of pressure.

But celebrate your uniqueness – just because you have a different opinion or like different things from other people doesn’t make you wrong. People can have a tendency to go along with the majority, wanting to be part of the crowd but with things that matter to us, the hobbies and interests that are important it’s vital that we stick with what feels right for us or what we know can help to bring us joy. Changing who we are to please others won’t make us happy in the long term.

Make small changes

It’s the small changes that can make such huge differences in our lives. The ten minutes we spend meditating can make our day feel much brighter and help us feel much calmer; going for a short walk at lunchtime if we’re feeling stressed at work can help reset our minds - think small and sustainable.

Keep going after setbacks

We all start off with the best of intentions when we sign up for that gym membership or give up one of our guilty pleasures. But time and life can erode our good intentions; the next thing we know our gym bag has been sitting in the hall for a month, unmoving. We can then fall into thinking, “Well, I’ve blown it now"... might as well "give up". But we can just start again; we can just accept the lack of perfection and keep going. If we do things most of the time then that’s good enough, we don’t have to have an all-or-nothing way of thinking. Be kind to yourself.

Grow, learn not to fix

We can be accepting and tolerant of ourselves but that doesn’t mean we have to be static. I listened to a podcast the other day about the joy of climbing a mountain, admiring the view, and allowing yourself to rest before noticing a higher mountain and starting to climb that. Growing isn’t the same as fixing, it’s about gaining new knowledge, new skills and ideas, some of which you might discard, but accepting you’re ok to start with. There isn’t a miracle solution, just experiences that might add something to your life.

The answers are inside not outside

It’s easy to laugh at the idea of beauty coming from within ourselves but it’s true that if we don’t feel happy with who we are this will affect the way we project into the world. We’ve all met people who display beaming confidence and how that it impacts the way other people see them. If we believe we’re doing well, and looking good, then that will go a long way to how the world will see us. We don’t need to change our outer appearance or behaviour, we need to accept ourselves and then we feel and act consistently with this view.

You don’t need someone or something to make you whole

Humans want connection, they want to have other people around them- and feel protected and safe. We’re sold the idea that romantic relationships will make us whole and there’s something wrong with us if we don’t have, or maybe even want, a long-term partner. There’s a lot written about finding a soulmate or the idea that someone else can 'complete' you. Being in love is a wonderful feeling but relationships tend to be more reliable if we’re going into them with a strong sense of self, we like ourselves. We become partners because we want to be with someone, not because we need someone, anyone and can’t survive without them.

You’re good enough

Just stop and acknowledge you’re great exactly as you are. If you want to make some changes, that’s fine, but at the core of it should be the fundamental belief that you’re ok. Nothing wrong with tweaking a few things but at the heart of your thinking is the idea that I’m good enough as I am. We don’t want to be striving for perfection, but rather aiming to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

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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Exeter EX1 & Colyton EX24
Written by Charlotte Feeny, Counsellor MBACP BSc (Hons) Dip Couns
Exeter EX1 & Colyton EX24

A fully qualified and highly experienced counsellor working with individuals and couples face to face in Exeter and East Devon, also online.


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