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Counselling & Psychotherapy - Process Of Therapy
In This Section:
- What Counselling Provides
- Counselling & Psychotherapy As A Container & Secure Base
- The Therapeutic Relationship - How You & I Relate
- Science Or Art?
- Relationships With Others, The Wider World & Indeed Ourselves
- The Connections We Need & Make
- Healing What We Need To Heal
- How We See The World
- Finding Our Way Through Difficulties & Old Beliefs
- Developing Fundamental Life Skills
- Tool Kit
- Life Re-Appraisal - Our Internal Resources
- Motivation & Will Power
- Burdens We Hold On To
- Grieving, Mourning Our Losses
- Releasing Ourselves & Letting Go
- Inner Authority, Own Authority
- Personal Freedom
- Our Free Will
- Role Of The Unconscious - "The Yet To Be Revealed"
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What Counselling Provides
Counselling is a process and provides a confidential space for us to talk about what's going on for us at the moment, any struggles or challenges, overwhelment, unresolved issues, setbacks, wounds, or a part of us, we hold back. Counselling explores our desired changes, options, choices, aspirations, any conflict with ourself, what we long for, any existential concerns or being at a turning point. Counselling may offer a different perspective, feedback or guidance, opportunities to develop a greater understanding of who we are and make sense of our life, heal what we need to heal. The process of counselling looks in depth not only at the symptoms, but also our core issues, the causes, and what these might mean for us. The counselling considers, and helps crystallise, our thoughts and feelings, what matters to us, the known and unknown aspects of ourselves. Counselling can be a sounding board to be heard, listened to, say things which are difficult to say, discover a part of us, which we just don't get, make connections, evolve. Counselling also provides the opportunity to say what's happening inside for us. Alongside the current issues we bring, the counselling may look at what we really want and what stops us getting there so far and can be experienced as a journey of selfdiscovery. (See also Aims & Benefits Of Counselling & Psychotherapy)
Getting To Know Ourself We all have our own "internal working model" - back-story and the therapy provides the opportunity for us to know ourself better, explore how we see the world, the facets of our personality, our full range of emotions, feelings.
Making Time For You If only we could solve our problems with an easy and quick formula. Often in society there is little time dedicated to understanding all of who we are - our own individuality, beyond labels or shallow identities. We can give priority to what we do, yet overlook our internal world - who we are, where we are from and our future direction. Balancing the demands of career, family and relationships can be a challenge. We can be so busy that we find it hard to be still and reflect about our situation, who we are and what matters for us, or find a safe enough place to off-load.
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Counselling & Psychotherapy As A Container & Secure Base
Counselling - A Containing Space Counselling and psychotherapy can be like "a container", or harbour - a safe holding space to reflect, allowing things to unfold, where our emotions seem hard to contain, where we struggle to tolerate our frustration, tension, anxiety or have certain existential dilemmas. We may also have creative or spiritual dilemmas. Sometimes sitting with strong or uncomfortable feelings, however painful - allowing for what else may be consciously (or unconsciously) emerging - can be more effective than rushing towards a temporary quick fix. Experiencing our feelings to their fullest can paradoxically dissolve them. Something else can then happen, as if our awareness, concept of time, or consciousness changes. What we might have believed to be intolerable, we may manage to bear. As we think about our thinking, fresh insight may emerge (see also Mindfulness & Mentalising). The counselling and psychotherapy offers a secure frame by way of holding certain boundaries, agreements, and this secure base can sometimes be experienced as a containing space and time different to any other (like our unconscious), for holding and exploring these conscious, unconscious interactions in the therapy, alongside our powerful intentions, feelings and thoughts, imagination, creativity, aspirations, dreams, daydreams, spiritual exploration.
Counselling - A Secure Base Sometimes in the early stages of therapy, the therapist can become like an external anchor for us, till we are ready to anchor our self. Counselling aims to offer a secure base and support in which to explore our life now, including any painful aspects from our past (making the link between the two), patterns in significant relationships (including our unconscious communications), our responses to conflict, the role of play, curiosity, imagination, our expectations and re-enactments based on old stored memories, e.g. loss, grief, trauma, shame, much of which would have been unconscious. And how we relate non-verbally, reflect and relate, interact together in the therapy may also be important. By reprocessing our feelings we can begin to repair what needs repairing, heal what we need to heal and grow, connect things up. Mourning what has been difficult in our early upbringing, being in touch with our own vulnerability, helplessness, reassessing our internal working models and having some measure of freedom from our past with more useful perceptions of ourself and others may be important for us, so we can think freely as an individual, utilise our free will, take charge of our emotional security, choose our own path, have increased flexibility about getting our own dependency needs met alongside meeting those of others.
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The Therapeutic Relationship - How You & I Relate
Cooperative Relationship Psychotherapy and counselling is a co-operative relationship in which mutual respect, shared responsibility and a good working relationship and trust are essential. Entering counselling or psychotherapy provides the opportunity to talk and think collaboratively together about our situation and what level of help might be needed. Alongside the issues we bring, counselling and psychotherapy also provides a space and time for us to be heard, take stock, be in touch with all of who we are and wonder about what our life means and what else may be emerging for us. The integrative approach of counselling and psychotherapy can help support us integrating all aspects of ourself so we flourish.
Interactions In The Therapy On a biological level, the brain has an element of plasticity (what fires together, wires together) and can be positively influenced (see also Our Vision, Visualisation, Envisioning The Reality We Wish To Be True) facilitating the potential for our disturbances, anxieties, etc. to be organically transformed in empathic relationships (including not only the therapeutic relationship but also in other relationships, e.g. with supportive others or our partner - someone who loves, accepts us exactly as we are, enabling us to love and accept ourselves) quietening the amygdala, stimulating the frontal cortex functioning. How the therapist picks up and subjectively experiences us in the therapy - imagining what we may be experiencing (including our disowned, disassociated experiences, non-verbal expressions, thoughts and feelings - often getting evoked, enacted within the therapy, felt in our body and picked up through our senses, nuances), can be fed back in the therapy and have the potential to be healing, transformative. The therapeutic relationship can be a relationship like no other and like a journey including discovery. It is quite common for people in therapy to feel emotions or reactions towards the therapist, and one person's emotions can shape those of another through our interpersonal experiences - where what we experience, the other also experiences and picks up. (This can include what we disown, cut off from, don't speak about.) We all have conscious, unconscious aspects and what else might be emerging for us in our life may not always be clear. At certain times what we consciously and unconsciously give out or withhold what's happening deep inside - maybe through some of our fears, hopes, intentions, thoughts, moods, emotions, feelings, etc. can get picked up by others. (We can also project onto others, including our partner,... our therapist) Therefore, we all affect each other and these often subtle reactions, interactions (frequently unspoken), can also be picked up in the therapy through transference, counter-transference. And some experiences are impossible to put into words, yet get evoked in others (e.g. what we repress, suppress, maybe our love but also our shadow side, painbody). Our explicit knowledge can be seen on the surface, yet underneath there may live the implicit, unspoken parts of us (or yet to emerge aspects of us) which are hard to articulate, having an often non-verbal subtext - even linked to before we had words (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns), holding reactions both from our past yet also pointing towards our future potential. The interactions between us and how we relate and come across, is partly a reflection of how we are experienced by others out in the world - and we can allow for this in our work. (See also Counselling & Psychotherapy As A Container & Secure Base)
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Science Or Art?
Art Or Science? The diverseness, uniqueness & complexity of each human being cannot be pigeon-holed simply reduced to the neat boxes of a tangible, fixed medical model, a measurable exact science, which misses the individual. We can only measure what can be measured yet need to take into consideration what can't be measured. Understanding ourself is important yet experiencing ourself - the richness of all of who we are is of a different dimension. The flexible therapy approach allows for the mystery of who we are, including our subjective experiences, unconscious processes, imagination, what's transforming. The art of counselling and psychotherapy tends to avoid labelling others and diagnosis.
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Relationships With Others, The Wider World & Indeed Ourselves
Interactions Out In The World Counselling and psychotherapy can help us be more in tune with ourself, others and offer guidance in managing and resolving conflict, solving problems and troubled relationships. Some relationships work, evolve better than others and it is our experience through our relationships with others that helps us heal and grow, teaching us what works for us and what doesn't. Being relationally receptive can be a need. The world is full of interconnected relationships - greatly influenced by our first relationship and our life is about relationships and the opportunities they bring as we adapt and respond, (sometimes through repetition compulsion, learn what we need to learn, heal). Everyone, universally, has some ingrained ways of relating - we may struggle at times to relate in depth and seek relationships for intimacy, meaning or identity, so in a sense the focus of counselling is always about relationships with:
- Yourself (your primary relationship) - your internal relationship, the relationship you have with your Self - your different identities, personal roles, how you see the world, understand, manage, respond to your own needs, feelings, emotions, thoughts, energy, how you listen to yourself - your overall, physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, spiritual self.
- Life itself
- Our partner (see also Our Relationships As A Man) including learning what we may need to learn along the way (see Our Intimate & Loving Relationships Now - Strengthening The Secure, Loving Bond Between Each Other)
- Others - parents, siblings, children, friends, peers, acquaintances, work colleagues, neighbours, authority, online interactions (see also Relating & Sharing With Others - Our Interconnectedness)
- Things & Objects (see also Thoughts & Beliefs About Happiness) - our virtual relationships, e.g. the computer & internet, aspects of work, etc., certain food, alcohol, which, when excessive (see also Unwanted Habits & Addictions), adversely affect our time & energy in developing fulfilling relationships with real people, or indeed our self
- Our spiritual realm
- Our attachment history, influencing our relationship style as it shapes all our relationships
- The therapist
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The Connections We Need & Make
Connections Life can be experienced as everything being connected (see also Integrative Counselling Approach - Holistic Counselling). Our life can also be experienced as a series of connections, disconnections, reconnections, interconnectedness that we may need, make and the integrative therapy can explore these different connections further, what happens when we connect with our heart and soul:
- Conscious, unconscious connections in ourself & in our relationship
- Our first relationship - early connections & bonding patterns
- Early connection with our primary "caregiver"
- Connecting with our senses
- Connections between current struggles & experiences from our past
- Our body's interconnectedness to our thoughts, emotions, etc
- Connecting to our Self, our overall, physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, spiritual self - all of who we are
- Body, feelings, mind, sexuality, spirituality connection
- Connections we make to how we think, feel, respond
- Re-connecting & being true to who we are, being grounded & secure in our body
- Being connected to our sense of dependency, independency, interdependency, codependency
- Being emotionally connected ourself
- Emotional connection in our relationship
- Making connections with our partner
- Connections with others
- Connection, disconnection, reconnection, interconnectedness, how we connect internally, relating with others - our interconnectedness
- Being connected to who we are in relationship to our present situation, past, future, interconnectedness - connecting consciousness to our past, present, future, sensing our aliveness
- Interconnectedness of suffering & love
- Life's journey - connecting to our inner direction
- Our need for love, connection
- Connecting to the range & forms of love
- Connecting with our passions, desires, sexual desires
- Sexual connection, union
- Connecting with nature
- Connection between suffering & love
- Connection between love & will
- Internal interconnectedness - connecting consciousness to our past, present, future, sensing our aliveness, space beyond us
- In tune with us & the wider world, our interdependence, interconnectedness
- Connecting with the universe & whatever this means for us
- Spiritual connection & principles to any religious faith
- Internet connections, mobile connections, social media connections, online chat connections, connections to technology, gadgets
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Healing What We Need To Heal
Healing whatever we may need to heal in ourself may be part of the therapy process and may include:
- Healing through all our relationships
- Healing old wounds, hurt, pain, shame, guilt (see also The Need For Secure Emotional Connection - Healing From Our Early Attachment Wounds, Lack of Bonding)
- Healing through our attachment bonds
- Integrating our body, feelings, mind, sexuality, spirituality
- The potential to heal in our relationship
- Healing through loving sex
- Being in touch with, allowing for our vulnerability, human fragility
- Coming to terms with life's uncertainties, impermanence
- The value of our tears
- Sharing our feelings
- Embracing suffering & love
- Healing through love
- Opening up to our compassion
- Utilising our wisdom
- Apologising when we need to
- Having gratefulness, appreciation, gratitude
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How We See The World
Interpretations Our sense of the world is determined by our guesses generated from experiences, expectations, beliefs. We all interpret the same events differently - creating our experience by the power of our thoughts (see also What We Do With Our Thoughts & Beliefs, Our Reasoning & The Weighting We Put On Things). The process of counselling and psychotherapy attempts to understand our world view - how we look at the world around us and ourseIf in it. There may be something we want that's not working; how we see ourself getting there and the ever-changing journey itself may also be important. The counselling examines our perspectives, perceptions, how we see ourself, belief systems, any expectations, assumptions and conclusions. The therapy may explore through whose eyes and what lens we view the world, whether it be our parents' eyes, our different identities, roles, etc. and how by changing our thoughts, stories we tell ourselves, new possibilities emerge.
Templates We May Have Created We all have our own relationship to life, personal templates, internal working models (thinking templates, feeling templates, behaving templates, identity templates), and some of them are unconscious:
- The ways we think & see things including rationality, assumptions, beliefs, prejudices, biases, wishes, hopes, perceptions, attitudes, values
- The ways we feel, e.g. depression template, anger template
- The ways we behave
- The ways we like to show ourself in the world
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Finding Our Way Through Difficulties & Old Beliefs
Finding Our Own Way Through The therapy process includes integrating aspects of our personality, which we might find unacceptable. These aspects may include unwanted feelings, our beliefs (including the early unconscious agreements we made). We may therefore also go into the promises we made to ourself, we have held on to or continue to be loyal to, including the beliefs that are precious to us. These may also include beliefs like "I'm not supposed to have needs", "I should...", "I must always...", "I should know" and "Not knowing is unacceptable", that "Feeling vulnerable is a weakness" or "Dark and chaotic moments must be avoided". It is often that somewhere within these difficulties themselves, are pointers to solutions and as we find our way through them, we are able to liberate ourseIf from their binds.
Creativity, like human life, begins in darknessJulia Cameron
Underlying Symptoms It is common for people to come to therapy with a range of issues - those of a more immediate nature alongside underlying concerns (where the source of our issues may lay), indicating that certain non-specific issues, emerging unconscious issues may also need attention as if our very soul expresses itself through our symptoms having an (often unconscious) role in our development. At some point during the therapy process we may discover that we have very different needs to the ones we thought we had at the beginning. Issues we bring to counselling and psychotherapy may have underlying causes and multiple meanings carrying messages - like cues or pointers, which may be a wake up call or turning point for us - our unconscious side (unknown, to be discovered aspects of us) and point towards our potential. The process of therapy from this perspective views our issues, disturbances also as symptoms, signposts pointing towards growth, our potential, which need paying attention to. In therapy there is an opportunity, for both of us, to wonder together about the meaning of any past events, and what might need to be learnt, healed or integrated. (See also Therapy Approach - Working With You, Viewing Issues Also As Symptoms With A Back-Story)
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Developing Fundamental Life Skills
Personal Skills Some people may want to focus on specific areas of concern. Counselling and psychotherapy can help with this. Examples include:
- Decision making
- Critical thinking
- Ways of relaxing
- Expressing & containing emotions
- Being creative
- Individuation & taking self-responsibility
- Internal resilience, emotional resilience, psychological resilience, relationship resilience
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Developing Our Own Toolkit During the therapy process, we may prefer a listening ear, understanding and gentle guidance. We may also seek tools or a structured programme to help us with aspects of ourselves and our personality. The counselling and psychotherapy can work with what troubles us, the different parts of our life in detail and as a whole including our general, physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, spiritual wellbeing.
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Life Re-Appraisal - Our Internal Resources
Our Own Resources Alongside our personal skills, we may want to get to know our "internal working model", appraising our life like a life audit, get to know what works for us, what doesn't. The counselling can look at our external and internal support systems - a bit like a personal MOT, including how we do and don't take care of ourself, get our needs met - what does and doesn't help. These resources may enrich our life, support us in understanding (and make meaning of) our experiences, overcoming inevitable setbacks and adversity, being resilient. The therapy process can include seeing how we are in touch with our future aspirations alongside getting our primary needs met, by looking at:
Taking Stock Of Our Life
- Where we are now, our influences
- What we've achieved & what matters now
- What motivates us
- What gives us faith & hope
- What gives us meaning, status & a role
- What we really want - what's most important & the steps we take in getting there
- What might our challenges & resistances be
- Our habitual behaviours & choices
- How we express & contain our feelings
- Our emotional connection with others, deepening our relationships
- Whether we feel needed by others & being in touch with & asking for what we need - speaking up for ourselves & letting others, our partner know what works best for us
- How will we live our life to our full potential
Our Support Systems
- Being in touch with & asking for what we need - speaking up for ourselves & letting others, our partner know what works best for us
- Our range of coping mechanisms, resilience & support systems, including if things go wrong
- Our values, conscience, integrity & how we fully express them
- Our intrinsic self worth
- How we connect with our own purpose & direction
- Whether we are living & working in an environment where not only our basic needs are met but we also consider how we flourish
- Work-life balance
- How we get our basic needs met - how we give, receive care, share love
- Being in touch with the healthy side of being selfish
- Our home truths
- How we make worthwhile commitments
- How we manage adversities, suffering
- Alternative ways of responding to difficulties
- How we soothe ourself
- How we adjust & our flexibility
- Our sense of control
- How we utilise our good qualities, strengths, abilities & personal skills
- What we appreciate & are grateful for
- What helps us relax
- Doing pleasurable, challenging, satisfying & rewarding activities, what we enjoy, that stimulate the brain & stretch us
- Having a network of supportive friendships & relationships, who are able to provide a range of support, e.g. people who are honest with us and challenge us, share our interests, live in different worlds from us, enriching our perspective, love or care for us
- Our creativity
- Our space for contemplation, reflection
- Being in touch with what lays deep down inside us - individually & collectively, what brings us energy & depth of expression through the heart & soul of ourself, valuing what matters, however small, large, interest sharing - being connected to something larger than us, e.g. universal qualities of passionate interests, music, sport, art, nature, family, friendships, spirituality, religion, participating in our community
- Our general, physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, spiritual wellbeing
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Motivation & Will Power
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Burdens We Hold On To
Our Burdens All of us can feel burdened by certain experiences, our life can feel like a long, hard slog, ploughing on. We may have been carrying our burdens uphill for a long time (some of which may even originate in our ancestors). Our burdens come in many forms including problems we hold on to. The burdens we continue to carry can weigh us down, where things become an effort, struggle or battle. (Some of us may also not want to be a burden to others, so we may withdraw or numb our feelings, don't ask for what we need including in our relationship or struggle to receive love.) Shedding light on the burdens we carry, laying them down, transforming them, lightening the load, letting go of ones we no longer need to (see also Releasing Ourselves & Letting Go), can be explored in the therapy. Our own burdens may include:
- Our painbody
- The impact of our past
- Inhibiting rules, loyalties, oaths, sacred cows, obligations, belief systems, etc.
- Unhelpful, old thoughts & beliefs
- Thinking in absolutes & over-generalising - all or nothing thinking, either/or thinking, duality
- Doing things the same old ways
- Overthinking, overanalysing, overwhelment, confusion - stuck in our head
- Overwhelmed by feelings - managing, regulating & transmuting our emotions, core painful feelings
- The narrative we told ourself
- Fear of failure, success
- Old wounds, shame, guilt, loathing
- We may feel the burden of being a woman, man, parent or being stuck with a rigid identity, role in life
- The pressures of living in the world
- Feeling low, sad, depressed
- Unexpressed sorrow, tears
- Tiredness, fatigue
- Unmet, unrealistic expectations
- Perfectionism, fear of failure, success
- Struggling to make choices, decisions
- Certain unwanted feelings
- Carrying our vulnerabilities, yet feel unable to share these
- Relationships burdens
- Becoming like a martyr, victim, persecutor or rescuer
- Certain personal fears
- Certain repetition compulsions
- Fears in our relationship
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Grieving, Mourning Our Losses
Bereavement & Grief for someone we cared about, or knew has its own pace (see Grief & Bereavement Counselling). Grief is about loss and is different to depression although we may be grieving our unhappiness. Grief is part of the human condition, we grieve because we love and we may also be in touch with loss or personal grief, not of a person but of a different nature ...
Grieving Over The Loss Of Our Past Some of us can remain stuck in our grief, others - rush with getting on with life (some of us can switch between both). Certain memories, past experiences may have a ripple effect, stirring, deep love, regrets, good times, bad times, trauma, heartache, heartbreak, years of struggle, nostalgia. Our grief may also arise when we long for a past experience. We may be grieving over loss of childhood, painful experiences, past wounds, a specific stage of life, later life, lost youth, maybe mourning unfulfilled dreams, aspirations. Our grief, unresolved loss may run very deep, as if right to our soul, as we struggle to bear this. Our grief may have a very long tail. Unhooking ourselves from grief may take time. Allowing ourselves to grieve our loss, releasing any emotions, reconciling and making peace with our past, learning what we need to learn, may be important. The therapy can be a space to talk about these, alongside existential concerns.
Mourning Our Losses We may experience loss, separation, yet be unaware of this and some of this may be related to our early attachment history. (We may also not only be mourning what has been lost but also what has never been.) Some of us may be inconsolable. Traditionally we may have been taught to get over our painful losses, yet grieving what needs to be grieved, making our memories part of our lives, so they are integrated, may also benefit us. Empty inside, our grief may arise as if from nowhere. Our grief can be about something in us that has died, which may be hard to mourn. Yet, as something dies in us, it can create the potential for something new to emerge, renewal. As we let go, we are often in touch with uncertainty and loss, which can trigger past memories of endings. Our grief and loss can be experienced in many forms. Loss of: childhood, trust, power, control, health, stability, identity, interests, purpose, love, dependency, friendships and relationships and when our children leave home may deeply affect us. What we do and how we let go of betrayals, rejections, endings, unfinished business may also be our challenge. Being openheartedly able to forgive ourself or others may be a need. Often when we are in touch with our own personal grief, we can get closer to and sense what we need. As we let go of things, we may enter into a time of transition or renewal.
The world is round and the place which may seem like the end, may also be the beginning.Ivy Baker Priest
Grieving To Let Go Grief is present throughout our life. It can be painful to talk about it. We may grieve when losing the innocence of our childhood, when we have to grow up, grieve our wounds, pain and hurt, have family grief, we may grieve for another day passing and the passage of time, life changes, partings, separations, endings (including relationship endings), deaths - not only the literal ones but other little deaths. We may grieve because we are human, grieve humanity, feel a global grief - a sort of universal sadness. Some of these big feelings of grief, sorrow may have been too much to bear when we were younger and we may have also been taught to resist them, bury them (or others didn't know how to attend to our grief), repress our grief. Yet giving loving attention to our feelings of grief can help release us, move through our blocked feelings, where often our anxiety, frustration, sadness and heartbreak live. We may choose to grieve in our own way by choosing to allow a trusted few in, letting ourselves be held (physically and emotionally), talking with supportive others, writing, dancing, sleeping, reflecting, meditating, praying, crying - whatever works for us.
I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go,Yann Martel, Life of Pi
but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.
Grieving To Let Go & Our Tears The time may, or may not, be right for us to let go. Unready, some of us may defer our own painful feelings (see also Our Painbody). Having a willingness to grieve, giving ourselves permission to grieve by feeling our sadness, crying when we need to and and being in touch with our longing and staying with it - breathing through it, following where it takes us, giving it time and attention towards completion, may support us.
Tears are the silent language of grief.Voltaire
Crying & Our Tears We may have built a wall to protect our soft heart and any unshed tears may have hardened (and we may feel depressed inside), yet as our tears flow freely, they may soften our wall and crying often relieves pain. Acknowledging when our wall is up (to protect our pain and our own vulnerability) can also help our wall to dismantle. Reluctant to cry, we may have certain judgements and believe that it's depressing or weak and hold back our tears (hurt and pain), which can get stuck in our body. Yet for some, when grief and tears are released, as we grieve the pain living in our heart, allowing our pain and grief of our past to wash through us, this can soften our edges, allowing us to come back into our whole body, feel more alive, open to love as our heart is touched and become more able to move forward, connect with the present moment, find our strength, clear out the fog of any unhelpful thoughts, see our life and the world with more clarity. Some of us may feel like a victim when we are crying and this may be because our tears are from the experience of our inner child yet crying with our our loving adult present, compassionately allowing ourself to cry when our inner child wants to, can be healing.
Embracing our tears (and laughter) are natural ways of expressing and releasing feelings so they flow freely, both our suffering and love, joy, gratitude, beauty, alongside our helplessness, sadness, sorrow, loneliness, pain, which may open our heart, showing that we love.
Always Tearful It is natural to respond to certain events by crying, letting out emotions, so if we need to cry we cry and don't hold back our tears. Yet maybe over-sensitive, on occasions we don't always need to over-share all our feelings and it may be inappropriate to cry - crying at the wrong place and time, making things awkward, others uncomfortable or in a work situation, unprofessional. We may struggle to reign in our emotions at times which for some may be linked to our loose or porous boundaries or accompanying the tears of our inner child through our loving adult.
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Releasing Ourselves & Letting Go
In the end, just three things matter:Jack Kornfield
How well we have lived
How well we have loved
How well we have learned to let go.
Letting Go Of Things & Passing Them On The above quote speaks of loving well, grieving to completion and may point towards that when the time is right, everything that comes our way we can choose to pass on for good use with love - not just our money and possessions, but our wisdom, ideas, opportunities. We may have specific areas we struggle to let go of.
Releasing & Letting Go Often we know that the time is right, when we have to let things go (see also What We Do With The Will). Sometimes we can become trapped like a bird, holding on to our branch, believing we are not free. The branch can't let go of us, and our challenge at times may be to let go of the branch (risking losing some control, vulnerability), which may seem counter-intuitive (see also Mourning Our Losses). Yet we can still hold ourself, be in our ground, remain centred. Stuck, we can hold on to things which no longer work (including some of our over-defensiveness), which for some may ferment into depression. Giving us permission to let go of the burdens, we no longer wish to carry (especially things out of our hands), may be our desire. We may want to simplify our life. We may question if we need to fight the same old battles any more. When we are ready, we can make a decision to let go, trusting what will be, will be, no longer necessarily allowing things from our past to influence our life now, in this moment. We may become freer, our attitude and perception may change, the choices before us may widen. We all have our own pace and often we personally know when the time is right to let go of our over-reliance or attachments to objects, opinions, ideas, thoughts and beliefs. This separation, letting go may also apply to our over-attachment to people by letting others be (without expectation or dependency), we are OK and they are OK. Letting go of unhelpful associations may support our resilience. As we acknowledge this separation, we are more able to respond to loss, boosting our wellbeing. When we free ourself from the hold of our past, let go of our attachments, allow things to wash over us, dissolve, we may discover that we don't have to struggle unnecessarily anymore, release and let go of any resistances (for what we resist persists), be more able to allow "what is", accept ourselves, loosen up. Grieving our loss, allowing for change and new challenges in our life to emerge, making a fresh start, may also be important to us. As we grieve what we need to grieve, surrender, we may be more connected to what we need in our life and relationship. Some may be drawn to spiritual enquiry. Our grief can arise and well up from nowhere and we may need to let go of what blocks us in certain areas (see also Relationship Counselling & Marriage Counselling):
Our Past - see Impact Of Our Past alongside:
- Hurt & pain, wounds, guilt, shame, trauma
- Grieving over the loss of our past
- Things we hold on to, which no longer help (see also Burdens We Hold On To)
- Loyalties, oaths, sacred cows, obligations, binds & bonds from our past that no longer serve us
- Sore spots, resentments, bitterness, grievances, grudges
- Longing for past experiences, what might have been
- Stuck memories
- Our unmet needs, unfulfilled childhood & sadness - grieving these
- Stuck, fixed in the past
- Redundant life patterns
Our Future - see Living To Our Full Potential alongside:
Thoughts & Beliefs - see What We Do With Our Thoughts & Beliefs, Our Reasoning & The Weighting We Put On Things
- The "Shouldn't", "Should", "Ought", "Must", "Never", "Always" beliefs & wishing things were different
Feelings, Emotions - see Range Of Specific Feelings & Emotions
Our Bodies - see Our Body alongside:
Our History We can't always let go of our past, yet can learn to carry things lighter. Counselling and psychotherapy can explore this further. (See also Impact Of Our Past)
Negative Interactions We may be left with traces of emotions from previous interactions, which shape our future ones. Some of us may prefer to transform the negative thoughts, beliefs, feelings into positive ones by acknowledging our emotions and understanding what triggered them, wondering how we would do things differently, taking or creating something positive from it and moving on.
Old Roles, Fixed Identifications What is familiar can be comforting, even if it is painful or gives us trouble. Yet, as we hold on to certain things, being wrapped up in them, we are blocking other possibilities, and if we hold on too tightly, we may be crushing what we are holding. The unknown and being open - allowing things to come and go, can be scary, as may choosing to take the less familiar, long way home. Some of us can be overly identified, or attached to one specific area of our life, e.g. a specific role, feeIing, desire, need, thought, belief - so one of these may dominate at the exclusion of others (see also Inhibiting Rules, Loyalties, Oaths, Sacred Cows, Obligations). We may also have a selfimage (e.g. people pleaser, the striver, self-critic, our own inner judge, the rescuer, "poor me", the persecutor or a saviour of others) that no longer helps, or doesn't do justice to all of who we are. Releasing the shackles that continue to bind us, disidentifying when we need to, contacting our free will may be important.
Existential Grief Our existential grief, loss and letting go may include: what was in our life or what might have been, regrets - wishing we had done more, letting go of a stage of life, our mortality, deep sadness of what we believed mattered, yet no longer does. We may experience this grief right to our core. What's left and now ignites us we may be asking. Counselling and psychotherapy can help us find our way through this challenging phase. (See also Existential Therapy)
Finding Closure When something small or significant ends, taking time to find closure - working through our feelings, accepting what was and what happened, can support us in letting go. Shifting our energy and moving on from what's ended, finished, towards our future and the next chapter of our life may support us.
Whisper words of wisdom, Let it be.The Beatles
Replacing What We've Let Go Of Grieving a loss, any loss, takes time, and part of this process may include eventually discovering, embarking upon new challenges, which are now important to us. Yet we may put ourselves under further pressure and be faced with a challenge of letting go of the need to just push ourself on through further endless problems, to do lists, challenges, struggles, past endless obstacles as a means of survival, that only then, we will be OK. Hijacking our self, delaying gratification, we may forever try to reach an unreachable destination (as if one day we will reach it), omitting our journey in the process, forgetting that we have survived, we are OK. Letting go, being with what is and who we are in the moment, may be important to us.
Simplifying Things Simplifying our life by letting go of things may also mean letting go of any wasteful thoughts, time and energy, things which take up too much space and no longer need to. This may also include any physical clutter we have accumulated, our gadgets, clothes, shoes, etc. (See also Peace Of Mind, Stilling Our Mind, Contentment, Inner Peace, Calmness - What May Help)
Pride Being proud in who we are - appreciating ourself, our achievements, successes, our qualities and strengths propels us forward, supporting our self-esteem. Yet there can be another pride where lacking humility, we are hubristic, "too proud for our own good", or "foolish pride", "false pride" - holding on to things which no longer work, feeling arrogant, conceited, making everything only about us. Some of us may be caught in unproductively comparing us with others. We may also be holding on to our wounded pride connected to our unhealed wounds. Being willing to learn what we can improve, be vulnerable, lick our wounds, forgive, apologise, let go, surrendering to "what is" - not how things should be, being real with our humility, remaining strong, grounded and taking responsibility may be challenges, yet bring us peace of mind and deeper connection with others. The counselling and psychotherapy can explore with us the benefits and pitfalls of our pride.
Releasing Our Regrets When we tightly hold on to our regrets, sorrow, guilt and shame for what we've done, how we've been or how things might have been, we can end up disappointed, feel bad inside. Some of us can remain stuck in our regrets, or blame ourselves for what happened back then, even if we weren't as aware or conscious as we are now. Some of us may find it hard to let go of our regrets, regretting what we've done or not done. These regrets may include letting negative people affect us, comparing ourselves with others, not following or chasing our dreams, overly focusing on earning a living, not truly living, holding back ourself, living through fear. Holding on to our regrets (wishing we had done this, done that) can keep us trapped in our past, yet we can't change our past, and in some ways it has made us who we are today. Being in touch with, or expressing our regrets, no longer wishing things were different then or now, can be a healthy process. Owning our mistakes can be a way we speak our regrets. We can choose to carry on regretting things, or consider that things also happen for a reason, that we may benefit from learning something, so we transform our regrets into insight, realisations, what we could have done differently. Forgiveness may play a role in letting go of our regrets.
Not Setting Up Future Regrets We may have developed a habit of consistently regretting things that we should have done. We may therefore want to consider not always playing things safe, thinking creatively before our actions, connecting to what we love, being in the present moment and creating new supportive habits. We may also need to challenge the concept of wasted time, because we may have failed to acknowledge our evolving consciousness, benefit of hindsight - that everything we go through has become part of our learning so we acknowledge our feelings of regret, understand them and can fully live now, live our passion, count our blessings (see also Forgiving Ourselves & Others), be in touch with our good fortune, what life means to us, our purpose.
Humility Our defences, flaws and failures, narcissism as human beings allow us to reflect on them and may teach us humility, alongside taking responsibility for the effects of our actions. At times it may mean apologising with sincerity without devaluing ourselves. (It may take humility to also accept others' apologies.) We may want to be more in touch with our humility - valuing ourself and others, that nobody is better, being confident yet poised, in a way that doesn't put us down, downplay our value. Having our humility keeps us centred, grounded. Sometimes our false pride may get in the way of our humility. How we value us and value others, without our big egos getting in the way, so we don't have to dominate or impress others, be boastful or arrogant, choosing to put them first at times, without putting ourself down, may be challenging (see also In Tune With Us & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness). How we can appreciate and value others for who they are, their accomplishments and struggles, truly acknowledging their own human being-ness, that they too are on their own journey in life, may be important for us.
Appreciation, Gratefulness & Gratitude - Our Challenges Our cynicism and sarcasm may run counter to appreciating things, showing gratefulness, gratitude. Some of us may tend to put our attention on what we don't have. Choosing to see the glass half empty or full is up to us, yet affects our optimism, pessimism and future. "What is enough?" may be an important question for us, and we may look only outwards for this (see also Our Need For Validation, Approval, Affirmation, Reassurance, Confirmation, Permission, Recognition, To Be Valued, Appreciation, Praise, Attention, Adoration, Admiration, Adulation, Acceptance). If we feel insufficient for not having or being enough, or feel empty inside, low, struggle to be in our loving adult, then finding gratefulness, gratitude may be hard to come by. With a disingenuous attitude, intention or agenda in mind we may try to find or have gratitude because we "should" - that it's the right thing to do or that we've heard somewhere that expressing gratitude leads to things manifesting (some may believe that by having gratitude - it is a passport to heaven). We may find it challenging to have gratitude for our self, life, appreciate our efforts, achievements, successes - however small, for life itself, others.
Appreciation, Gratefulness & Gratitude - A Choice We Make We can choose whether to be critical or appreciative. We can also choose to focus on what we do have or what we don't (see also Optimism, Pessimism & Discounting The Positive) - the effects of which touch us and others. And when we feel appreciation we feel happier. When we are grateful, find our gratitude practicing it both now and in our future, seizing the day, allow for spontaneity, surprises we can see or choose a situation from this place of gratitude or our impatience, frustration, anger, disappointment, confusion.
Self Appreciation - What May Bring Us To Have Appreciation, Gratefulness, Gratitude Appreciating our self and worth, having gratitude, appreciation for life, our body, also enhances our self-worth. Despite our shortcomings, flaws and imperfections, cynicism, sarcasm, some of us may struggle with savouring what we have, being appreciative, grateful, honouring what's ordinary in our life, having gratitude for the good things that happen, even for the simple things we have close to us (being grateful for small mercies) - our senses, our body and sleep, what's right in our life, our strengths, potential, our very existence, our health, home, family, meeting a friend, work, our achievements, gifts, traits, abilities, skills, talents - however small or large, enjoying simple pleasures and what brings us joy (see also Being & Doing - Dilemmas We May Hold), nature, beauty. Being appreciative or thankful for things, our qualities, beauty around us and people, those who have helped us and those we interact with can lighten us and others (see also Appreciation In Our Relationship, Marriage). And being in the present moment brings us to gratitude. Events and experiences themselves can evoke gratitude. And proactively cultivating gratitude - choosing to look at situations from the places we can be appreciative about can bring us peace of mind, acceptance and acceptance of what is - our essence.
Experiencing, Showing Appreciation, Gratefulness, Gratitude - Effects On Us Or Others Having gratitude because it makes us happy, brings us joy, may help us feel more aligned so we express this spontaneously in heartfelt ways rather than by rote as if from our wounded part of us. Being appreciative, grateful, showing our gratitude, doesn't have to expressed through grand gestures. Sometimes a simple "thank you", listening, being there, caring about someone, showing this in small ways, affirming and validating them, is all that is necessary (see also Appreciation In Our Relationship, Marriage). Being grateful makes us, and often others, feel good, so we and they don't take them, life for granted. Focusing on the good things, some people choose to extend their gratitude (an aspect of love) further by being appreciative for anything, everything and everyone. Being kind, showing our gratitude, generosity - even for the little things, can build bridges, open our and others' hearts, bring us faith, support our future. We can experience the elevated mood of gratitude when we surrender (and sometimes as our tears dissolve, this can bring us gratefulness, gratitude), appreciate what we have, feel blessed and count these blessings - however small, fill our heart and soul with love, sense that gratitude is also spiritual, accept our circumstances and ourselves. At the end of our day we can reflect upon what went well, what we enjoyed and learnt. Many of us find it easier to express gratitude than find forgiveness.
The resentment, bitterness, grievances, grudges we hold on to may include dissatisfaction, disappointment, following old loyalties, oaths, sacred cows, obligations, what people have said or done, the way we were treated, wronged, judged, being told what to do, how we resent others needs, not being appreciated, validated, approved of, not being heard, envy, jealousy.
Resentment, Bitterness Stuck In Us We may feel resentment, bitterness, hold grudges, grievances, have unexpressed or unresolved anger and this can eat away inside of us, becoming stronger the more it is ignored, feeding on our negative feelings, emotions, including regrets and if we don't attend to those feelings, they can last for years (see also Our Painbody). When we fully express ourselves, acknowledging our resentment, bitterness, our pain, communicating these feelings (sometimes directly to the people who have hurt us) it can be a liberating process. We can become more confident, aware, especially when we release ourselves and let go and this can help us towards forgiveness...
Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.Nelson Mandela
Forgiveness - Finding It Hard To Forgive Others, Forgiving Ourselves If We Need to Before We Forgive Others We have all made mistakes and the past has already happened (see also Evolving Consciousness - Benefit Of Hindsight). We may unhelpfully continue to dwell on past mistakes, regrets, replaying the memories over and over again, which of course doesn't change what's happened but may continue to make us feel guilty, ashamed, resentful, disappointed. Looking into our role, what we contributed to the relationship system - whether we tried to control the relationship, please, where we were compliant, angry, blaming, withdrawn, resistant, owning our own choices, decisions, responsibility may be our first step we need to take before we can forgive others. Did we judge, abandon ourself, ignore or judge our feelings, make others responsible for our feelings? If we are feeling powerless we may also fee revengeful. We may want to attend to our unhealed wounds compassionately forgive ourselves for things we didn't understand before, be kind to our understanding that we and others are evolving and enjoy new insights. Accepting the past, learning from our mistakes, regrets, making amends, forgiving ourselves can help clear our head, open our heart, support our health, be loving of ourself and others.
It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.Maya Angelou
Remaining Unforgiving To Ourselves & Others We have all been guilty of intentionally, unintentionally hurting, betraying others, and we have all been on the receiving end. Forgiveness is a process (as is letting go of our anger) and we can't push ourselves. No one can make us ready to forgive and no matter how hard we try, we can't force ourselves until we are ready. Unforgivingness can linger like a burden we carry affecting our head, heart and health. We may need more time to grieve what we need to grieve, express our feelings. Yet a time may come if we have moved beyond any stuck feelings of anger, resentment, betrayal, revenge, regret, holding grudges, etc. when we are ready, willing to move on, no longer blame, condemn. Some of us may no longer want to hold on to negative events, past hurt, pain, grudges, bitterness, accumulated resentments, miserableness. As we hold on to these, they may fester inside, becoming destructive (e.g. affecting our health, trusting ourselves, others and our relationship) and we may want to forgive and let go. Certain memories, mistakes, may bring up uncomfortable feelings from the past. Letting them go, reflecting on any lessons we need to learn and how we can apply them in our life, may be challenging, yet help us move forward. We may be missing out on life as it happens, unable to enjoy the present. Moving beyond what should have been, the story we tell ourselves, may help us. Disappointed, we may struggle to bridge the gap between what we wanted and what happened. If we can't compassionately find our way to forgive and accept ourselves, apologise, say sorry when we need to to, we may struggle to forgive others. We may want to redeem something, move away from feeling like a victim and now want to become less stuck in the past, accepting, alive and vibrant.
Forgiveness Doesn't Depend On Others Some may view forgiveness as a weakness but it takes courage and inner strength to forgive. Our need to be heard (including in our relationship), right, seek revenge or justice, may get in the way of choosing to forgive, as can holding on to our hurt or unhealed wounds, being too proud (see Pride). Our own guilt or shame may get in the way of forgiving us and others. Feeling hard done by or righteous, we may be "wrapped up in whatever was wrong" so much that what's really important, what we value can get lost. We become stuck on the content or offensive behaviour, rather than the process of acceptance and freeing ourself from own emotional pain. We may be confused between forgiving someone's deliberate or mistaken behaviour and forgiving them (this may also be true of us). It may be counterproductive to wait for others to change before we can forgive them. We can't always expect others who have hurt us to accept and understand we have felt wronged and that they need to apologise. They may never see or acknowledge there was a problem. Yet we don't need their apologies, having to say they are sorry in order to forgive them. We can forgive first then attempt to resolve matters, move on (see also Embracing Ourselves With Compassion & Understanding For Us & Others, Being Loving, Sharing Love With Others). To forgive means to give - we can give positively from our mind, heart can apologise and say sorry ourself and this can be powerful, liberating, supporting our wellbeing. We can forgive someone else ourself, which can also empower us.
Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past.Alexa Young
Forgiving & Forgetting Some may be further confused between forgiving and forgetting. We may find it hard to forgive if we can't forget at times. Forgiving is not always easy and forgetting can be harder - where we can be caught out when something similar happens (see also Our Triggers), bringing back old memories, associations. When we forgive it doesn't have to erase or excuse the wrong, yet it can free us up to do something about this wrong or to move on. There may be some things we just can't forget, yet they don't always have to be so foreground.
It is easier to forgive an enemy, than to forgive a friend.William Blake
Forgiving Ourselves & Others Self-forgiveness can set us free. Finding room in our heart to forgive our self (and no longer judge, criticise ourself) and others, including our partner, may not be easy, yet may support our greater wellbeing and improve relationships, where tolerance and validation of others may be important. To no longer look backward, forgive and let go, move forward to a better place inside and with others, redeem our anger that caused us pain, is a powerful choice in our hands. How we compromise may also be important. Accepting that mistakes are made, being in touch with our forgiveness - embracing it, being able to forgive others and us may be important for us. Finding our way to forgive (without rationalising our hurt, yet emotionally learning from it), finding space in our heart to release any hurt feelings, forgiving those who have hurt us, moving on, may free us. Embracing this, asking for our own forgiveness, releasing our feelings of hurt, anger, finding and developing compassion & empathy for the one who has hurt us, can release us. When we truly forgive, we may have a sense of peace, enabling us to move forward, wishing the other person well and if we choose to think or speak to them without bitterness, negativity, then our forgiveness may be on the way. Forgiveness doesn't mean reconciliation, excusing, erasing or minimising any wrong or necessarily be associated with a religion. Like the saying "To err is human, to forgive is divine" (Alexander Pope) our challenge may be: Can we be humanly divine, let go, really feel our feelings, be true and honest or find redemption if that is our need? For some this may lead to peace of mind, a sense of grace or spiritual connection.
Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.Alan Watts
As we relinquish what we no longer need to hold on to - often something safe and familiar, our dependency on others for validation, recognition, approval, etc., we are able to temporarily drop our stress, fear, worries, anxiety, bear any suffering, embrace all our feelings we may want to build, rediscover our sense of self - be centred, grounded, settled in our Self, yet be freer - less constrained and more relaxed into ourself, open in our mind, body and heart, experiencing and expressing love, living meaningfully, have compassion for ourself and others. We may want to differentiate between our false pride, wounded self, be in touch with a truer sense of who we are, being OK in our core self and inherent nature. Paradoxically we become closer to who we are, and our core self, by disidentifying, being in touch with who we are not, ridding ourselves of any obstacles in the way, including our limiting beliefs, perceptions, allowing for uncertainty, the unknown, mystery. Some report that by letting go, we may have an identity crisis, initially feel a sense of alienation, emptiness, existential angst, yet also connected to our essence - the childlike innocence or sacredness, experiencing beauty, joy and wonder of the present moment, the wider world, the love we are inside our essence, more renewed, alive, present and in our body, in touch with our own vitality and selfhood, more focused. And as we let go, living less automatically, we may become more engaged, appreciative, accepting of life being as it is, as if things fall into place, closer to our home truths. We may want to be in touch with both our helplessness and power, freer to live our lives now - in the moment (without comparing previous moments), even when things are hard (free of fears, our past or future worries). We may be more able to relax. Listening to our inner voice, closest to our truest sense of our self - the significance of who we truly are - a place beyond thought and feeling, we may also experience a sense of acceptance, being real rather than necessarily doing something, when anchored in our self, we may feel "this is me, my existence, that I am the experiencer of my experiences (that I am - that I remain and am OK), the true essence of me that never changes (what I am), the concept of self, my centre and base, my uniqueness, my constant sense of self". This experience has also been called being a soulmate to ourselves, our higher self loving adult, internal presence, a boundaried sense of coherence and inner continuity. Taking ownership, guardianship, trusteeship of who we are may be important. Experiencing this sense of our own essence and trusting ourself, our innateness, we can be in touch with our inner compass - putting us in touch with our passions, pointing us towards our desire. Open to what life might bring us, and what we bring to life, we may receive life afresh, unexpected and precious like a gift at each moment (see also Life Transformation, Alchemy). We may be more in touch with what is around us and what we are experiencing inside where we may feel connected in our body, mind, feelings (see also Healthy Side Of Being Self(ish)). This for some may lead to having peak experiences. In touch with our point of consciousness, our lightness, openness, sense of aliveness now - presence, our sense of freedom, own inner authority, free spirit and responsibilities, expressing the true spirit of who we are - our essential self, the self, may lead us to our sense of conscience, integrity, being in touch with our core values, our sense of unconditional love, search for meaning, the origins of creation or spiritual connection. We have the potential to be enlivened with our love and faith in who we are and for many of us this can reconnect us to the innocence of our childhood. We may experience more courage, clarity, compassion, receptivity or curiosity or creativity, connecting with and being true to ourself. We can choose to value silence, stillness and balance, make space for our self, both reflect (maybe utilising mindfullness, meditation) and indeed act (see also Motivation & Will Power).
'What day is it?', 'It's today', squeaked Piglet. 'My favourite day', said Pooh.A.A.Milne
Letting Go - Being In The Now, Being In The Moment We can frequently find ourselves wrapped up somewhere else or believing we will get there one day, so we only partially experience the here and now (see also Lost Or Stuck). Our mind can go off somewhere, have uneccesary thoughts and it can be a challenge to step out of routine, free our mind, stay present with what is happening right now and what we do (moving our body can also assist us being in the moment), remaining centred, grounded, anchored, attentive, fully awake, open to spontaneity and surprises and interacting with everyday moments - relishing moments. This can free up our approach and decisions, as we can for example explore what would be the most kind or loving way of responding. When we are mindful - actively present with open attention to who we are, moment by moment, accompanying ourselves, taking personal responsibility, we may no longer have a sense of missing out on things (see also putting off life until tomorrow, once I have done this or that). It may be the small things don't matter any more and never did. Getting familiar with the present moment may help us feel connected and being in the moment supports our momentum. When we are present in the moment (internal presence), we are in touch with our physical sensations, emotional feelings, our mind, our intentions and feel connected (see also What We Resonate - Noticing Our Energy, Vibration). Being in touch with our inner direction may become important. In tune with us and the wider world, stepping outside ourself, we may also realise that there is more to life than only what's happening to us at the moment. Sometimes sitting quietly, being still inside our mind, letting everything else remain outside (e.g. stress, fear or anxiety), watching and observing the mind like an objective witness can enable us to be aware of our emotions, with a sense of wellbeing, rest, calmness, at ease and at peace (peace of mind), that all is well. In this space of simply being "me", sensing our aliveness, we may be still and in our stillness - looking for nothing other than just being present, being in the now. Some may have peak experiences, a sense of timelessness, as if there is a close connection to our past, present and future potential. This for some may lead us to having existential concerns. In our stillness, we may be in touch with our hope, what deeply matters to us, sense of commitment, need for action. And when we are putting our full attention into doing something, our "being" can be present. (See also Accompanying Ourselves "In The Moment" With Awareness, Reflection)
The beginning is always today.Mary Wollstonecraft
Letting Go Of Our Attachments Control may be a concern for some - we may believe that if we don't get what we want, we must suffer (or feel like a victim to things). And even if we do get what we want, we may still suffer, because we can't hold onto it forever. Letting go of our attachment to goals may be challenging for others, when our sense of worth is attached to this. Also letting go of the concept of non-attachment (or denial, suppression or repression of our impulses, urges, passion, aspirations, imagination, need for connection) may also be important for some. Being in our own ground in touch with the facets of our own personality, our intrinsic worth and own power, (or a higher power, religion if that is our choice or belief) and being with supportive others may be important for us, alongside being in touch with a unique way of loving and being loved. Our attachments issues now may be connected to earlier attachments.
Spontaneity & Surprises Seizing the day, being in the moment, stepping out of routine, allowing for (both pleasant and unpleasant) surprises, being spontaneous, may be important. Tuning in to ourself, allowing ourself to be surprised, spontaneous again, may be missing for us. Stuck, lost, low in our life, being bored, cynical or sarcastic or holding a "seen it all attitude", we may struggle to notice or allow genuine surprise, spontaneity into our life - those moments of uncertainty, freshness, allowing for the unexpected. Giving ourselves permission to be spontaneous, be surprising and open towards surprises, can enable us to feel more alive. We may have allowed past wounds, hurts, pain to close this almost innocent part of us inside down. Risking spontaneity again in our life, allowing for the unpredictable and unknown, being surprised (and open-heartedly offering surprises) may loosen us up, alongside being playful, lighthearted, having our sense of humour. Some may have an important need to be in control or be controlling in our relationship in order to block off spontaneity, surprises. Catching ourselves unawares (as if something new comes in) we can be surprised when previously unconscious aspects of us emerge. Not shutting these previously dormant parts of us down can support our spontaneity, ability to be surprised. Being surprised, if only we allow this, can be seen as a primary emotion. We can sometimes overlook opportunities to be spontaneous, take initiative to surprise people in our life, which boosts our elevated moods and help build stronger connections with others. These don't have to be kept for special occasions or be expensive grand gestures, and can be more about showing interest, paying attention. We may want to feel freer free from social convention, inhibition, able to exercise our free will.
Carpe Diem - Seizing The Day Life has endless possibilities yet some of us may feel lost, stuck and we can choose whether to become a passive observer in life or choose momentum, involvement, action, seizing opportunities, making choices, fully experiencing life, expressing our full self, being spontaneous, living in the moment, feeling alive.
What Is Being Communicated - Listening To Our Inner Voice Some of us can live our lives as if from a script - a narrative of our own making. We may also be familiar with our internal dialogue - which can drown out our own inner voice. We may have a dialogue in our head between one side of us of a more critical, judgemental nature - often more dominating, the other part of us has a kinder second voice - a place of unconditional love. When our mind is quiet, we may experience a place inside of us, closer to us, often a quieter still voice which has been there all along, that we want to make more time for. We may be more in touch with this when we have a difficulty or crisis, when alone, in silence or very at ease with ourself. This more peaceful, kind voice, patient, free of anxiety, may be experienced as more from our heart, the voice of our Self. Coming home into ourself, listening, trusting and making time for the voice of our higher self - this more caring, guiding, compassionate, loving, maybe intuitive sense of ourselves - what we are sensing, feeling, needing, want from our day and life and choosing to follow our own path may support us. When in touch with the connections we make (symptomatically and energetically) in our body and senses, feelings, mind and imagination, deepening our awareness, we may question what is it that guides us, wanting to reflect, be mindful. Experiencing this voice from the Self - our heart, may for some lead to spiritual enquiry.
- Listening to our intuition
- Listening to the energy of nature in all its forms
- Listening to what we might need to learn
- Listening through self-reflection
- Listening to what our heart is telling us
- Listening to our conscience & personal integrity
- Listening to our higher self
- Listening to evolving consciousness
Surrender, Release & Liberation There are times when we need to push, make things happen, and other times surrender to "what is", life's uncertainties, our own helplessness, letting go of any resentment, bitterness, etc., our fear based thoughts, need to control everything, which can be liberating for some when we forgive what we need to forgive, hold gratitude, accept what is - our essence (see also Self-Acceptance). This can also affect our response to compromise. In a time of personal transition or transformation, we may be more attuned with ourseIf, fully experiencing what is before us (that we are the experiencer of our experiences), our senses and others, being empathic, responsive, able to trust, be more in touch with life, feel separate yet also connected, open, vulnerable, strong, whole and with other "yet to be discovered" qualities. Knowing ourself, and that we are more than this, may mean we experience life unfolding for us, our true nature, as we question consciousness itself, beyond our own consciousness. We may have a strong sense that not only do we matter, but also what connects us to the wider world. Liberated, we may also seek deeper connections with others in the realisation that we are a part of a greater whole. For some they may experience a Love or Will that is not only personal. This sense of continuity and state of internal presence (that we remain present to each experience as it arises - the experiencer, aware of our awareness, able to encounter fullness and emptiness, isolation and unity), experiencing things as they happen, moment by moment (see also Present, Past & Future), can be described as being in touch with our will, or a will beyond us, as if we are being will. This experience may support us in deciding where we put our attention. Some experience this release as being in touch with their own conscience, integrity, serenity or a spiritual realm - in touch with their deepest sense of Self. Surrendering doesn't mean giving in or defeat and means more about dropping our defences and surrendering to our deepest desires, purpose and becoming who we really are - our essence. Allowing or surrendering to these aspects of ourself (without giving up and taking action when we need to), letting down any unnecessary walls of protection when we also need to, as we surrender to something bigger than us may be further challenges for us, as we openheartedly surrender the need to control for love, without abdicating personal responsibility or sacrificing ourselves, so our head is held high. As we let go, honour our experiences, intimacy, truth, are in touch with our resilience and personal boundaries, alongside our intent to be open, learn and love may also support us.
I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.Maya Angelou
Counselling London Psychotherapy - Personal Freedom - Counsellor Camden Psychotherapist
Inner Authority, Own Authority
Being who we are -, being independent in our own inner authority, centred, standing in our own ground, listening to and speaking our own truth, giving ourselves permission to walk our own walk (no longer live from our eternal child), being the author of our own life, own authority (less dependent on approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, validation, appreciation, praise, permission, confirmation from others), in touch with our personal will, resilience and boundaries, our values, conscience and personal integrity empowers us. Being individuated with an established, anchored sense of self as a unique and whole person, taking ownership of ourselves (no longer looking for others to take responsibility for us because we do this ourselves), following our own path, being focused, having faith in ourselves, in touch with our inner continuity and coherence, own truth, potency and what personally matters to us may support our sense of inner authority.
Counselling London Psychotherapy - Personal Freedom - Counsellor Camden Psychotherapist
Our Autonomy & Relationships With Others (See also Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple) Personal freedom can be experienced as an elevated mood. We all want freedom - not to do whatever we want, because we know life isn't like that, yet to free our minds may give us this sense of personal freedom. For some, the process of therapy is successful when we are freer to choose, less automatic - with our own sense of emotional freedom, choosing who and how we want to be in each moment, accessing our own strengths and skills, clarity of thought, autonomy, free will and inner wisdom, being fulfilled and in healthy relationships with others (Nelson Mandela remarked "The purpose of freedom is to create it for others"). Our interconnectedness, what the world beyond us ethically means for us may be challenging. (See also Releasing Ourselves & Letting Go)
Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.Jean-Paul Sartre
Our free will is driven by aspirations, desires, passions, dreams and imagination alongside our sense of wellbeing. Our free will is about our autonomy, individual freedom, yet has a relational value allowing us to choose intentionally, responsibly. Our self-determined free will is also shaped and constrained by the limits and perceptions of our identity and personality, environment, past and present experiences (including our unconscious processes, the influence of our emotions, etc.) and what is determined outside of our control.
Free Will & Relationship To Fatalism, Preordainment, Determinism, Indeterminism & Randomness, Karma, Nature & Nurture - Dilemmas, Challenges Certain stages of our physical and psychological development are determined, e.g. baby, child, adulthood. We have the potential to influence certain things, yet can't always determine things, change realities. Determinism can be viewed as events having cause and effect with predetermined factors outside of human control. We are not determined by our past yet influenced by it. However the will is not completely determined (see also Wind Of Change). Some may live life as if it is only determined by fatalism (which renders human choice redundant), especially if we feel like a victim to determinism (that absolutely everything, including outcomes, is already preordained, determined without allowing for indeterminism, randomness, existentialism) or fate (what will happen will happen). "Am I ruled by fate or do I create my own destiny?", "Why is this happening to me?", "Do I have to follow what is determined?" we may ask, as if our destiny is already fixed. We may overlook how our actions inform our destiny. Some may believe that everything is mapped out for us - we have no choice or influence, as if our life is predestined - that we must live life to a fixed script, narrative with inevitable scenarios or that our environment or genes entirely dictate - that we are helpless pawns and have no personal freedom or ability to respond to the influences of nature and nurture, (as if it's nurture versus nature rather than the combination of both) combining to influence us (see also Self-Identity & Personality). Our life direction is not merely determined by fate, our script, our history, our biology and genetic inheritance. Living with uncertainty, the unknown, may be challenging. The quote from a Greek drama (also attributed to Algernon Sidney and Benjamin Franklin) "God helps those who help themselves" refers to the human experience of acting freely. We have an impact on the scenarios we choose, what we envision. In the counselling some people may want to explore the notion of what comes around goes around - the relationship between their intentions, actions and what is called karma - how the nature of our intentions from our past determine what happens in the present, that what we give out, we receive back - the effect of our actions and reactions, the cause and effect (that for every action there is a reaction out there in the world). Some may also want to explore how this affects our own path, life's journey or spiritual path. (See also Listening To The Evolving Unconscious)
We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.Thomas S. Monson
Free Will & What May Be Happening Inside For some our esteem or sense of helplessness or powerlessness may inhibit our personal will and choices, holding a sense of impending doom, we may have got into the habit of only playing things safe. Life may have become mundane because we have allowed it so and we may have lost our ability to change our mind, express our carefreeness, playfulness, sense of humour, creativity, respond to suffering and love. We may also want to decide whether to use our free will and free choices to determine our character, relationships to open our heart or keep it closed. As a way of sabotaging things, we may have become passive, believing that everything will be OK if we just sit back and only allow life to set its course (see also Magical Beliefs) without actively participating in life, getting involved, utilising our free will. Some of us may wait for opportunities to come along and making the most of these may be important for us. Yet opportunities aren't always handed to us and we may be overlooking where we are right now, what's in front of us, making opportunities happen yet also notice when opportunities simply present themselves in the moment (see also Wind Of Change). Not accessing our free will can stop us taking responsibility for ourself or bring us up against existential crisis. We may have a further need to live no longer from our wounds and be in touch with our free spirit, learning how to let go of control, to trust and have faith.
Exploring Our Free Will & Its Constraints In The Counselling It is said we have a higher level of free will, that distinguishes us from other animals, which enables us to have a degree of autonomy, self-regulation. Our life is also self-determined through our autonomous free will, in the present moment, and it is this sense of self (with the capability to rise above influences, seIf observe and act in the world) inherent in us all, that I value and work with in therapy (see also Facets Of Personality, Character). Although much of our biology is hardwired, many things in our life are uncertain and some of us may struggle with uncertainty, the unknown, where outcome cannot always be predicted and we can't control not only outcomes but others. The role of chance, serendipity (how random events can shape our life), nature and fortune accounts for much of our existence (see also Free Will & Relationship To Fatalism, Preordainment, Determinism, Indeterminism & Randomness, Karma, Nature & Nurture - Dilemmas, Challenges). We also have free existence, free will, where we can deliberately, consciously choose (see also Willpower - Setting Our Intention), freeing ourselves from the ways things have been, starting new chapters in our life, taking control. Freeing the will, disidentifying may be important. Releasing ourselves and letting go, freeing ourselves (see also Inhibiting Rules, Loyalties, Oaths, Sacred Cows, Obligations), may be challenging for others. Aligning our will may be a different need for others. The counselling and psychotherapy offers support in acknowledging our independence, recognising our free will, enhanced by our imagination and the choices we make - that as we are, so we affect things, so we know (or have an idea of) our destination, take charge of our destiny and make things happen to get there, therefore the therapy may also explore how free our choices and decisions are (see also Role Of The Unconscious - "The Yet To Be Revealed"), our curiosity, passions, desires, who and how we want to be in each moment, whether open or closed, loving or unloving, controlling or not, our degrees of self-control, etc. How we choose, experience, respond and act with our qualities affects our future.
Freedom comes slowly at first.Brian Keenan