Don’t ask me about my feelings…!
For many of the people I work with, it can be extremely difficult for them to find a language that explains their feelings. They my be intense, overwhelming, always present, intrusive, and unwelcome. Sometimes, all of that can make us ‘feel’ numb.
We can all learn our own language to understand our feelings. Children tend to be pretty good at this – using colours, Lego characters, football stadiums, and even food. It’s a language they already understand and that can help break through the sense of being ‘out of control’.
A therapist can sometimes seem to be overly interested in your feelings. But there’s a reason for that! It can lead to breakthroughs regarding unhelpful patterns, difficult feelings, and negative interpersonal relationships. It can reconnect you with any feelings you may be trying to avoid by overthinking the situation.
Take a look at this article that talks about this in a little more detail.
If there’s one thing I’d like you to take from this post…. it would be that knowing your feelings gives them less control over you.
Our Inner Critic
As a child we develop many ways to protect ourselves. As we grow into adulthood, some of these strategies can begin to impact us in a way that disrupts how we would like to be in the world. All of this usually happens out of our awareness, and therefore it can be difficult to understand what is going on.
Signs that may mean this is impacting you include:
- struggling to make sense of normality
- difficulty managing your emotions or feeling emotionally numb
- unpredictable anxiety
- feeling empty, lost and alone
- unable to remember periods of time, or gaps in your memory
This certainly is not an extensive list, but it is the more common things that I hear from the people that come to see me for therapy.
The inner critic is the voice inside of ourselves that keeps us from living the life we wish for ourselves. Recognising, rejecting and affirming are three steps to help you understand your inner critic. This then enables us to live differently.
Therapy is a support that can provide the space and a safe, confidential environment for you to do this. Take a look at this article to get more information on strategies to support yourself…… and start to quieten down your inner critic.
Therapy – something to be proud of or ashamed of?
I am a therapist, but I also go to therapy myself. It’s important for my professional development, but that’s not the main reason I go. It’s because my mental health is as important as my physical health. I do kick boxing, yoga, mindfulness and therapy. And each one of those benefits me, both physically and mentally. This positively impacts my relationships, my time for others, my patience, my self-esteem, my confidence… and so much more.
Many people at some point in their life will experience difficulties in relation to their mental health. And you are not alone in your struggles, or in overcoming them. Recognising the stigma associated with mental health and therapy is an important stage in accessing psychotherapy or counselling and getting the support you deserve.
This article talks about some of the stigma associated with therapy. It’s a great read and a perfect place to start if you are thinking that therapy could help support you or someone you know. Get in contact of you’d like to chat further. There is no commitment needed in finding out what’s right for you. And I will be happy to help support you in whatever way you need.
And by the way, therapy is definitely something to be proud of! I say that as a therapist and importantly as a person that goes to therapy.
Too busy to be mindful?
Life gets very busy for all of us and we can easily forget about ourselves. I love mindfulness, but do I do it as often as I’d like too? Nope!! So therefore, is it really that important to me? And this is where things get complicated. Because it is important to me and I know it can really support me. My own past experiences tell me this. So how do I get myself to find the time to do the things that are important FOR ME?
This article has some great tips. And essentially it’s about using your current routines to incorporate mindfulness. Now it doesn’t have to be mindfulness. That’s not necessarily for everyone. But I honestly believe that selfcare is for everyone. In whatever shape that takes to suit you, your needs, and your busy schedule.
I think this article is a great reminder that selfcare (in whatever form) is meant to relieve pressures…. not increase them. And by taking small but significant steps to incorporate a few mindful moments into our day, then it can gives us pleasure – not pain!
Take a look at this 30 day mindful calendar and commit to it. By the end of 30 days these little (but significant) mindful moments will be habits. And we all know habits are hard to break!
Just Be You
I use the logo “just be you”. But what does that actually mean? Simply, I would say it’s self compassion, self awareness, embracing the ‘good’ and ‘not so good’ bits of ourselves, trusting yourself, loving yourself, and (last but not least) asking for what you need. Easier said than done! And I’m not going to lie….. it isn’t always easy, and there is only one person that can do it. Yep, that’s right…. YOU!!
If you break it down it becomes so much more manageable. And I truly believe that a therapeutic relationship can support you and the process. I say that from my own personal experience – from both sides of the therapy room.
- Working out what your needs are
- Being authentic (with yourself and others)
- Forgive yourself (in other words, show yourself the compassion you show others)
- Celebrate every bit of you…. including all your quirks. They’re the interesting bits!
All of this can come with an awkward feeling of being selfish. We tend to put others needs before our own. And of course, sometimes we may feel we need to do that. But doing it with awareness can make a big difference. I want to stress that putting your needs before those around you is not selfish. It will have a positive impact on your relationships (amongst other things), and therefore giving those around you a very special experience. What is selfish about that?!
Have a read of this article to find out more about the four areas above. And get in contact if you’d like to know more about how this could help you feel more complete and less stuck, no matter what area of your life is causing you difficulties.
A Therapeutic Relationship
“How on earth can talking help?” Sound familiar…?!?!
But it’s not just talking…. there is far more to a therapeutic relationship in my opinion. Take a look at this article to find out more.
People who have experienced painful relationships growing up have been trained to expect similar experiences now. And that makes perfect sense.
It takes a new type of relationship to let yourself experience ‘you’ and others differently. This can be difficult, as it’s not always apparent that the relationships you had with your parents, siblings and others are actually impacting how you relate to yourselves and to others today. And you don’t need to know this to enter into therapy. A sense of feeling stuck, alone, separate, misunderstood, not connected, unsatisfied or frustrated are all reasons that people look to therapy.
A therapeutic relationship provides a safe environment to start exploring this. Emotions and thoughts that were once ‘not allowed’ can be felt and expressed. Unconscious emotional suppression because of your early experiences stops you from doing this (maybe due to shame, guilt, fear) and can subsequently impact relationships with your friends, partner, children, parents and others in your life.
Therapy provides a unique opportunity due to the way the therapist responds to you – in ways that are different to those you experienced when you were younger. This new experience helps you understand, acknowledge and accept your own needs. It can help reduce the feelings of stuckness – and the sense of feeling alone, separate, misunderstood, not connected, unsatisfied or frustrated; empowering you to have greater autonomy in your relationships.
Sometimes we say “yes” to someone when we really want to say “no”….. We put our own needs behind the needs of others, whether that’s our children, partner, friends, colleagues, and sometimes even strangers. Putting ourselves first leads to feelings of guilt. But why…??? Of course, we all have to do things that sometimes we don’t really want to. But this is more about ALWAYS seeing the needs of others as more important than our own.
Self care and self compassion are a couple of ways that can help tackle guilt head-on! A need to be perfect, to please others, and a sense of obligation all mean we dismiss self care and self compassion. Bringing these elements back into your own life is essential, because you are important too. Kindness, compassion, loyalty and patience are qualities that make us a great friend, partner and parent. These great qualities can be self directed too! I believe it’s essential. How we do this isn’t always easy…. therapy or counselling can help.
This article starts to address this and how we might go about showing ourselves the same love and attention we show those around us. There’s no better way for people in our lives to learn and experience us fully than by watching how we care for ourselves.
Take a look at ‘The Compassionate Mind’ by Paul Gilbert…. it’s a great read and you’ll learn loads! Get in touch if you’d like to know more. It’s never too late to start caring for yourself in the same way you care for people around you….. and not feel guilty!
The hustle and bustle of everyday life can be exciting but it can also take its toll. Knowing how to look after yourself in times of stress is a great idea.
Consider, Act, Release control, Ease
This article outlines a guide to help you when you’re under stress and feeling anxious, and the best time to look is now! Then you will have your self-care plan ready for when stress hits. Yes, it’s a bit of trial and error at times… so having a few options is useful. I find having a journal with everything in one place can make a big difference. And the biggest, most powerful thing (in my mind anyway!) is self-compassion. Self care is as important as caring for those around you, but it isn’t always obvious or easy to do. When I start to feel anxious it’s usually because I’ve stopped caring for myself, and that also means not allowing others to care for me either.
As well as this article, take a look at these two books:
The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert
The Self Care Revolution by Suzy Reading
Get in contact if you want to learn more and are finding stress and anxiety taking over in your life. We can work together to help you understand your anxiety better and find ways to reduce the impact, allowing you to live the life you want.
Emotions can be challenging
Accepting and properly experiencing emotions is not always easy. There are ways that can help everyone work with difficult emotions. I believe acceptance is key. I’ve experienced how denying any emotion can impact your mental health – both within my practice and through my own personal experiences. Acceptance helps you work through the unpleasant experience and that helps us increase our tolerance of difficult emotions, as well as understand how we can best support ourselves while we do that.
Take a look at this article that focuses on mindfulness…. a great way to start accepting all our emotions.
You’re never too old to play…. In fact it’s essential!
As children we play…. and play. In fact we learn so much through play. So why would we want to give that up as we get older? I agree that play can offer us a great deal as adults, but it’s not so easy to actually do.
Never say goodbye to play
When I first read this article it got me thinking about the types of things I did that I thought could be described as ‘play’. There wasn’t many!! But then as I thought about it some more, this article is talking about more than going and having a game of footie, or playing eye-spy with the kids while driving to school. It’s a mindset…. a passion for learning rather than a need for approval. It can be part of everything we do and part of every relationship we have. Creativity, spontaneity, mindfulness, authenticity and honesty are words that come to my mind.
Dr. Stuart Brown has a great TED talk that is really worth a listen. He describes how plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults…. and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age. Click here to have a listen.