3.“My life should be fine; why should I have counselling?” Because counselling can make you stronger
In the second blog of this series ~ Because stress can creep up on you ~ we explored lots of avenues that might open up from your story that can be examined in counselling. Here are a few thoughts about what might emerge:
You feel guilty for not appreciating your life, for your short-temper, for not being able to keep up with all the responsibilities you have taken on that you now can’t keep up with. I would help you to think about all the things that you are fitting into your day and acknowledge just how much you are doing and how stressful that is likely to be. We might talk about how it can sometimes be difficult to appreciate who and what you have when life feels hard, and how self-compassion can help.
You feel ashamed about drinking more often, for letting your gym sessions slide and because you feel a failure for asking for help. I’d be interested in when these behaviour changes started, and what happened at that time that might have impacted on you. We might explore what your judgements are about these behaviours and how that impacts on how you feel about yourself. And we may also think about what you might do to change those habits if that is what you want to do.
You feel like you don’t have the strength to deal with people’s judgements of you, so you’re doing everything you can to please people to avoid conflict. I’m interested in why it is so important to you to please people at the expense of your own happiness. What is the worst thing that could happen if someone isn’t happy with you? What judgements do you place on yourself if someone isn’t happy with you? We might talk about how you think about responsibility: what is yours and what responsibility belongs to others.
Saying ‘yes’ to every request for your time means you have no time or energy to do what you want to do or to look after yourself. We might work to identify where you would like to create boundaries in your life, get clear on what your boundaries are ~ what’s ok and what’s not ok ~ and think about how you assert these when you need to. We could explore possible compromises if that’s something that is important to you. Role play might be helpful here, so you can rehearse how to say ‘no’ or have other difficult conversations and the counselling room is a safe place to try that out.
Self-compassion...self-love...self-kindness. Call it what you will, it is really important. It can also feel like a bit of an alien concept! We’re not really taught that being kind to ourselves is essential for our self-esteem.
You need to be on your own side when it comes to the tough stuff, though, because when life boils down to it, you are the only person who truly knows what’s best for you and what you really need. So when I hear you using hurtful words to describe yourself, or being harsh on yourself because you made a mistake, I’ll be curious to talk about it. I’ll be interested in things like why you feel that you’re not worthy of having your needs met; why you feel you must be more clever/efficient/attractive/ thin/organised/superhuman than other people; why you struggle to acknowledge your achievements.
Negative self-talk is a minefield and not one that can be easily navigated. It takes conscious effort to recognise it and change the messages you tell yourself. Being your own best friend, and showing yourself the same compassion you’d offer a best friend having a difficult time, can help you through that minefield to a safer place.
Thanks for reading this blog series. I hope you've found it interesting and helpful. If you’d like to read more of my musings you can subscribe to my blog at https://www.tranquillocounselling.com/blog, follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tranquillocounselling or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/toniahiggins/
New blogs will be published on Fridays.
*These blogs are based on a hypothetical issues that can be explored in counselling and not on specific, real-life client cases.