Do you know what it’s like to feel safe? If so, you’re very lucky. Feeling safe allows you to be who you are, however that is. It seems that the opportunities to feel safe are incredibly limited. We can work in organisations which expect us to perform. We can believe that it would be frowned on if we said things like, we feel vulnerable, or that we need a bit more support. And who knows, it might be. We can grow up in families which seem to go from one drama to the next. Childhood may have felt like something to be endured rather than enjoyed. Perhaps we never even glimpsed safety. Is it a surprise then, that to be offered safety can feel sometimes feel threatening and unfamiliar? It can make you want to run a mile. No wonder people who have never known safety avoid so much or drop out of therapy.
Imagine how your life would be if you felt comfortable with things being good enough? Would you feel like a failure? Or would you feel as though you had achieved an enviable goal? Your response indicates how you dance with life and how you evaluate yourself.
For a perfectionist or someone who suffers from anxiety, the idea of being good enough might feel awful and a second-rate position to aspire to. It might imply that you have not really tried hard enough to achieve excellence and that you are one of those people who is a bit on the lazy side and lacks ambition. For someone who is comfortable with being good enough, the idea of being perfect is an unattainable goal and they may realise that there are many things they wish to focus on in their life apart from work or study or looking perfect. Or it may be that things are far from good enough because you are procrastinating and feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to start changing things.
There is no right answer here and some people are happy with seeking perfection. For others, this can be an anxiety-provoking and isolating pursuit which can be exacerbated by others failing to understand just how important it feels to get everything right or give 100% all the time. In fact, the more others fail to understand the needs of the perfectionist, the more anxious and isolated the person can become. This can lead to arguments and the breakdown of relationships with friends, partners, family and colleagues. The same can be said of poor performance.
If you are struggling with perfectionism or with procrastination and a lack of performance, it can be hard to understand how to change things. You might be stuck and powerless and feel that no one is going to understand. You might be falling behind at work or woth your studies. It might be useful to seek some help to explore what is going on and possible changes you could make to live live in a more fulfilling way. Therapy can help you to do this, and to figure out how you would like the rest of your life to be.
There is no right way ‘to do’ counselling which sounds unsatisfactory I know. It is really going to depend so much on the relationship which develops between you and your Counsellor. It is also going to depend on the model of therapy your Counsellor draws on. For more on this please read my blog post different approaches to psychological therapy.
Not sleeping well is a bad place to be. It seems so much harder to cope with day to day life when you are tired. It becomes so easy to snap at other people. You can end up worrying about not sleeping and this can create a vicious circle. Lots of clients come to counselling and mention that they are having trouble sleeping. It’s very common, especially if you are experiencing some kind of psychological distress. So what can you do? There is a lot of helpful information available on the internet. Try searching under ‘sleep hygiene’ and you will find lots of common sense articles about how to get a good night’s sleep. Try some of the things suggested in these articles for about 2 weeks and see if things improve. It is amazing how many clients come to counselling and say that if they wake up in the middle of the night they go downstairs and make a cup of coffee. Caffeine is not known for its sleep inducing properties.
So what happens if you are still not sleeping well? It’s really important to try and figure out whether this is a normal response to an abnormal situation. If you are recently bereaved then it is possible that this will interfere with your sleep. If you have recently experienced some kind of loss, for example redundancy, again it is likely to impact on your sleep. Or it may be that you have some regrets about things that have happened in the past. And these keep ticking over in your mind at night. Maybe you feel guilty about something you have done. Or haven’t done. If you are having difficulties sleeping you could go to your GP and ask about medication. Or you could try some counselling and try to process those losses or regrets or feelings of guilt. Sleep well.
If you type the question ‘why do I feel depressed’ into google it will return thousands of results. And they will all say something different. It can be confusing and frustrating and no one seems to know the answers. If you are feeling low you can feel very alone and misunderstood. You might find that people close to you are fed up with your inability to ‘get your act together.’ You might not even have anyone close to you to talk to. Maybe you never did. Maybe they have drifted away. Leaving you alone to get on with it. That’s the thing about feeling low. On the one hand you want to be on your own . To pull the duvet over your head and shut the world out. And on the other hand you desperately want someone to talk to. Someone who won’t tell you what to do or to ‘pull yourself together.’ Someone who will listen to you and really hear your story and help you to understand yourself and the way you are feeling. Someone who will help you to gain a new perspective and to work through your feelings so that you become able to make some changes in your life.
The ‘why’ question is really difficult. There are so many theories about why you might feel low. Some believe it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain and that antidepressant medication is the correct treatment. It is important to talk to your GP about this. Other people think that feeling low can be helped by the talking therapies. Counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are widely recognised as therapies which can help people suffering from low mood. These therapies can help to find the answers to the ‘why’ question. Maybe you have some unresolved losses in your life. Counselling could help you to work through these. Maybe you see the world as an unfriendly and harsh place. Maybe you have lots of negative thoughts which come to mind automatically when you are face with challenging situations. CBT could help you to challenge these automatic thoughts.
If you think you would like some help with your low mood then please get in touch. If I think I can help then I’ll let you know. If I think I can’t then I’ll let you know too.
Isn’t it funny how we can go through life being told what to do by other people. Parents, teachers, bosses, partners and even people who claim to be our friends. At some point most of us decide that we can make our own decisions and stop deferring to others. We learn to say what we need. We stop believing that other people have all the answers. We start to believe in ourselves and realise that even if we get it wrong we can learn from the experience and repair damage if necessary.
Unfortunately not everyone reaches this stage and I often work with clients who have no belief or confidence in themselves. It becomes obvious when they realise that counselling is not about being told what to do and that even though I’m a Counsellor I am not going to make their decisions for them. I love the phrase ‘why don’t you work on your own story.’ It says so much about opportunities, potential, choices and responsibility. It is not about trying to control others or about trying to live your life through others or blaming others. It’s about realising that it’s up to you.
Mind you saying ‘why don’t you work on your own story’ is really assuming that you are able to. That you have an awareness that other people may be pulling the strings in your life. I don’t want to diminish the fact that many people have few choices. Poverty is one of the biggest causes of mental health problems. You may feel oppressed and stuck in a job you hate. You may feel trapped in a bad relationship. You may feel you have to do what your family tells you otherwise you will be rejected. I can’t change any of these things. I can’t change society for you. I can’t make life fairer for you. I can work on my story though and do my bit and maybe that means working with you. Helping you to find a way to cope with the things you cannot change while working on the things you can change.