Sometimes we can all feel we shouldn’t feel the way we do. You might feel deeply sad, angry or terrified but feel as though you these feeling are not allowed or not right. It might take various forms:
You might be aware that from the outside it seems as though everything is fine, you have a nice home, a good job etc. nothing is ‘wrong’, but really it feels as though everything is wrong.
You might think that you have no right to feel the way you do, as other people have suffered far worse. They are the ones who have the right to feel depressed or anxious – not you.
You might feel that you are wallowing or indulging in self pity, that again you have no right to feel negative. Other people seem to manage, you might think; and a scary thought might emerge that perhaps you are broken or no good and that’s why you feel the way you do.
Thinking you are broken or bad for feeling as you do can be painful. It adds more suffering and can lead to an experience of amassing misery on misery, compounding feelings of worthlessness.
I believe the very act of being alive involves for every single one of us, terror, anguish, pain. There are no exceptions. I don’t say this to bear bad news, but to say, you are not wrong or bad for feeling the way you do, simply human. What you feel is as real as you are – there is a depth and a complexity to all that you feel.
Lots of people are frightened that accepting the existence of pain in life will cloud everything else out and all that is left will be pain. We can all fear that the act of ‘giving into’ the feeling will annihilate us. For me when I am able to accept how I really feel I have felt freer amongst the pain and have somehow been more able to feel my joy and happiness too.
Everything is fleeting, and the eventual aim of accepting how you really feel can create space in yourself to feel more than your sadness, anxiety or anger. You are not wrong or bad, but you feel deeply, and there is beauty in that.
In my first session with clients a question that comes up is: will this work for me? This probably comes from a completely understandable anxiety to get the right help and not waste time or money. The answer, however, is not a simple one, because it depends…
It depends if the person is ‘in the right place’ for counselling and, of course, if the Counsellor is any good. This answer can sound pretty unhelpful, but in reality it’s true; and at the same time my client’s have spoken of burdens being lifted and massive personal changes taking place. Personally I know it works if people are in the right place, and I know it worked for me.
I also know it to be true that if I can:
develop a relationship with my client so they feel able to share all those thoughts and feelings they ‘shouldn’t‘ have, and
share with them that I understand what it might be like to feel that way and be alongside them when times are really overwhelming and painful
then something sort of magical happens…
clients feel a massive relief that they are not ‘crazy’ or ‘bad’ but completely understandable.
The feelings they were trying to hide from are now being acknowledged, and this then allows something to shift**.
Once this new feeling is brought out into the open they can see it truly for the first time and can begin to accept and understand it. Like everything in life, if you keep pushing something it will push back, but now because we are no longer fighting against it, it can morph and change, and stop overwhelming us.
This change and acceptance is difficult and can be painful, and it is the only way I have ever experienced how to change things for good.
There is scientific evidence about how effective counselling can be, but as always this is about people in general, not you, not the client sat in front of me. So yes, it is a risk, and with the right Counsellor, at the right time, perhaps one of the best risk you’ll ever take.
* I use the word acceptance, but I don’t mean it in an airy fairy way, it could be accepting the anger or rage which is beneath the surface or a deep sadness which follows you around.