Quite a simple process when looked at in the above diagram. However, to look at and to really ‘see’ this process which has to be personally experienced, is a completely different matter.
So let us look deeper at these five points. Take them slowly and gradually and, like life itself a step at a time.
So now we start. The entrance and doorway to change. As a voluntary therapist, the call I get from the organisation I work for as a counsellor, notifying me of a new client signifies a ‘start’ that someone has made contact and asked for help.
Let us look at that for a moment. Asking for help. I don’t think there is a more humbling and vulnerable experience than that of asking another person for help.
Amidst ones own life of fractures that we human beings experience. The very act of picking up the phone, or going to the doctor and saying “I need help” or “I can’t cope!” may appear to a person as a moment of utter desperation, perhaps when they feel they are at their weakest. For me, I believe wholeheartedly that it is in fact, the beginning of strength. To make yourself vulnerable to another human being is a powerful statement.
For me, the act of asking for help came when I had exhausted all other avenues. I had found myself homeless, addicted to drugs and alcohol. Frightened, hungry and lonely. I had tried to change the drugs I used, or the clothes I wore, the places where I lived and even the people I associated with. I was trying to change my outsides when my insides were still there untouched. Finally broken, I went to a man, a priest who worked in the soup kitchen where I often ate and had cared enough to listen to me when I thought nobody would. It was to this man that I went to and held up my hands in surrender and admitted I could not do this alone.
To feel accepted, understood and listened to is empowering. This was my start. Taking a risk and asking for help. Frightened and scared of rejection, frightened and scared of staying where I was! So I took that risk, stepped into the unknown and started to trust.
As therapists, we learn to accept, understand and listen. We do this by starting to accept, understand and listen to ourselves.
It is this journey within that equips us best to work with another human being. We learn from our own experiences of our own lives. We start by looking at the choices we have made in the past, and the consequences, both good and bad and this gives us the opportunity to learn. It was through this self evaluation and honest appraisal of me. Of who I was and how I had been. A difficult and painful process. Facing up to the choices I had made and learning to live with my consequences. And yet, unbelievably, the gradual acceptance of myself gave way to an inner stillness and a quiet that I had yearned for within
Finding that stillness within is difficult in today’s world. It’s a fast world of internets and mobile phones and cars and ‘I’ve gotta’ be there in half an hour’ and ‘I haven’t go time right now’. Such a busy world we live in. What happens if you stop right now? Just stop what you’re doing. You’re reading this. However, I want you to stop reading for a while. Take your time and ask this question of yourself.
How do I feel right now?
This can be a difficult question to answer, and sometimes we need time to go away and reflect. I went away, had a cigarette and a coffee. Thought about how I’m feeling now. And I feel quite content within myself. My outsides are a little in turmoil. Financial worries, busy with work, not enough time. However. I’m happy today in my current job, I’m happily married with a beautiful child that I love and I feel loved. This is a good space to be in.
Yet a question remains. How often can we do that? Go away and ask ourselves how we are and answer honestly. It has to be honest. Without rigorous honesty with ourselves and admitting that life has its negativity and pain we can never truly embrace ourselves.
In the wonderful children’s book ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Margery Williams (A must read for all people who want to know how to ‘be’ themselves.) We are introduced to the hero of the title and the wonderful wise ‘skin horse’ and are told the story of a rabbit that learns what it is to become ‘real’. It is about being accepted and acknowledged and loved for being ourselves. Regardless of outside things and material desires. It is about the essence of us. When that is loved and accepted by ourselves and another human being. Something happens, unbeknownst to us. We become real. We find stillness and a true sense of who we are as people.
In the book, the velveteen rabbit asks the skin horse,
“Does it hurt to become real?”
“Sometimes” He replies.
Becoming ‘real’ to ourselves can be a painful process. Learning to like/love myself where I had in the past seen only failure and ugliness was particularly uncomfortable. Challenging myself, my values and conditions of worth. It was a slow process of coming to terms and learning to think differently from the ways I had become so reliant upon for so long…
When we listen to that inner voice we have the opportunity to redress the balance in our life so that it may become more fruitful.
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” (DESIDERATA)
– The next chapter in this little blog book tomorrow will help to OPEN up.
Sincerely Yours A Thirsk Counsellor
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hi there. I’m Paul Cullen. A Thirsk Counsellor registered with the BACP. I’m interested in all aspects of mental health and well-being and feel it’s important that we each find our way to our own journey.
Originally a Lancashire Lad, I know live in my adopted county of North Yorkshire, with my family.
Have a mentally healthy day.