I’ve been seeing a counsellor, Nichola, for a couple of months now and it’s been hard, very hard. This is necessarily so, if the process is to be worthwhile then you need to give yourself fully to it. Just as rehabilitation from a physical injury is often a gruelling process, so too is dealing with the complex feelings and emotions that are brought to the fore in counselling. Similarly, the pain is borne on the understanding that it has a greater purpose, strengthening the parts of you that are healing.
Truth is, it doesn’t always feel like great progress is being made when you are digging around in the sludge and shit that you have unearthed; sometimes it just feels that you are covered in shit. Given that, it is important to trust in the process and to have faith that the end result will be worth it all. That where you’re going to is better than where you’ve been.
As such, at this stage in the process it’s important to take a pause to consider where I’m at (it’s this week’s homework).
So, here is my very own magnificent(ish) seven.1. I’m here
No no no, I’m not wishing to imply anything dark or dramatic here, I mean that I’m glad to be at this stage in the process. I’m not yet where I want to be, but nor am I where I was. When progress seems slow – translation: ‘when you’re impatient to get to where you’re going’ – it’s easy to forget where you were a matter of months ago. And while the time can go slowly it’s really not too long in the grand scheme of things.
2. I accept that I’m here
Acceptance is very powerful and it can also be difficult to come by. So much of the last few years has felt like a battle, with much resistance and resentment towards unwanted situations and feelings. Whilst this may be a natural response to difficult changes and, I expect, a necessary part of reaching acceptance, it is also draining.
I feel I’m finding more peace in how things are, a peace revealed gradually by both the passage of time and the insights that I am gaining into myself through facing my challenges.
3. I’m learning about who I am
I would like to think that I’m pretty self-aware but I’ve been amazed at just how many significant insights I have discovered through working with Nichola. I am discovering that there is a big difference between being aware of and recognising aspects of yourself, and in actually understanding them, in recognising where they come from and questioning whether they are in fact serving your better interests.
As these insights grow they are accompanied by the sense of things gradually shifting inside. With deeper understanding we begin to see things with different eyes. Of course, we don’t shift a lifetime of thinking patterns in a couple of months, but once the light of awareness shines it illuminates a different set of choices that are available when faced with questions about what is best for us in a given set of circumstances.
4. I’m more accepting of who I am
Sometimes I wish I was simple. Not ‘simple’ simple, but more able to just deal with and accept things at a more surface level. To maybe be more satisfied with the surface level, transitory pleasures of life. But I’m not.
I have a questioning nature, I want to learn and know more, I want to understand things, I want my life to have meaning, I want my relationships to have meaning. I want to be the best version of me that I can be. I can overthink, I analyse, and with all of this comes a tendency to be overly self-critical. To bring the blame for things back to myself and to zoom in on those aspects of myself that may have contributed to whatever unwanted situation I find myself in. And to wish that they weren’t a part of me.
I’m learning to be more accepting of who I am, to embrace all of those qualities that make me ‘me’ for only then will I truly live the life I am capable of living, free to be who I am at my core without the need for validation from anybody else. To be who I am, not who I feel I somehow ought to be.
5. I haven’t ran
A long long time ago I was a runner, until arthritis in my foot forced me to stop running. Over the last few years I’ve found myself running again, only this time in a metaphorical sense (my body wouldn’t have it any other way!). It’s natural to want to escape from the pain that we feel, to search for distractions and external cures and answers. But I’m learning that a big part of the cure is to feel what we are feeling and to sit with those things that are difficult for us.
Heartache, sadness, grief, loneliness, doubt, fear, confusion, uncertainty… In counselling I’ve unleashed a shitstorm of emotions as what has long been repressed has broken free, and sitting with these things is fucking hard. But I’m doing it and I’m still here; and slowly, bit by bit, these feelings dissipate.
6. I’m a hardcore badass
I’ve been playing a tough hand this last few years. Life has challenges in store for all of us, it just so happens that this is my time to buckle up and endure a bumpy trail for a while. Whilst fully recognising that many many people have far greater challenges than I, Nichola has helped me to see that I’ve been dealing with some ‘hardcore’ stuff that can send a lot of people under. I’m still here, and I’m ok.
When I started to see Nichola I was, as she describes it, ‘frantically fighting the tide’. Now I’m ‘floating in the middle of the ocean’ and preparing myself to kick on to a new shore. I’m not going to be pulled under again. I’m pretty damn hardcore myself. In fact, I’m a regular badass (but a nice one).
7. Carl Rogers would be proud
Who? Carl Rogers is one of the founding fathers of the humanistic approach to counselling. According to Nichola I’m a ‘dream client’ and have worked hard in facing difficult things without shying away from them. In her words, ‘Carl Rogers would be proud of you.’
Rogers described the life of the ‘fully functioning individual’ as rich, full and exciting and he suggested that they experience joy and pain, love and heartbreak, fear and courage more intensely.
“This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one’s potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life” (Rogers 1961)
It’s reassuring to know that such depth of feeling can be considered a component of being a fully functioning individual, rather than a somehow defective one.
Well, if Carl Rogers would be proud of me then I guess I can be pretty proud of myself.Soundtrack:
Moving – Travis