Although it is normal to feel anxious on the run up to your first counselling appointment. It is useful for us to be aware of how you experience anxiety. We often get thoughts & anxiety mixed up. We may say we are afraid of something such as growing old & being alone. This is not anxiety, this is a thought about the future, although it may invoke anxiety, it is not anxiety itself.
Anxiety is a physical experience in your body & it is your bodies warning system that a feeling is approaching. This feeling is usually a feeling you don't want to feel. This is important for us to understand in therapy because if your anxiety is too high - we cannot explore feeling! & it will it also 'block' you from bringing what you really want to explore in therapy. Therefore, it is really useful for us to 'check-in' & to see if there is some anxiety during therapy & our first therapeutic task is to work together to regulate your anxiety so you are able to bring what you really want to explore in therapy & we are then safely able to explore your feelings.
If two people enter a building when the alarm is going off - they cannot hear each other - they have to disengage the alarm before they can have a meaningful conversation. This is the same principle in therapy. Therefore, if your 'alarm bell' of anxiety is going off in therapy, we pay attention to it & by using this newly found awareness by paying attention to your anxiety, we can then see the sequence of what invoked your anxiety. This will allow us to explore the feelings underneath your anxiety in the safe & confidential space of therapy.
For a more in-depth look at anxiety, please see my blog post here (TBA)
At times, it is very easy for us to escape into fantasy when our reality is difficult, potentially painful & lacking in communication in the way of communicating our needs, wants & desires.
Although a porn addiction maybe something that you feel like you need to get away from, the content is really important to our understanding of what may be underlying.
"Trauma is not what happens to you; it is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you" - Gabor Maté
Our adaptive self
I have come to understand & believe that most, if not all of our psychological wounding starts in childhood, usually when we are very young. At one end of the spectrum - if there is 'trauma' or periods of dis-ease to the other end of the spectrum - if life was somewhat sheltered, we adapt to cope & survive.
As we are young & our ego is developing it does so under the conditions of the environment we are in, including the norms, values & attitudes of our parents, caregivers, wider family & wider society. As adults we are unaware we adapted as we never posessed the psychological know how to do anything different as children & we are further unaware that we actually adapted to fit the mould of the pathology of the family & the wider society. As we adapted to cope & survive with the demands of life we picked up distortions in thinking, such as that internal critical voice & ways of coping that although may have helped us back then, are hindering us now as adults & are 'blocking' us from moving forward. This, along with anxiety are the confusions & 'overall feelings of dis-ease you are experiencing.
In some ways our left brain 'keeps on keeping on' while our right brain plays 'catch up' - What I mean by this is 'post trauma' - we still have to get up & face the world & live our life in some way - whilst being aware that something just isnt right, we are carrying something painful & difficult to talk about with friends & family, we find ourselves having unwanted or intrustive thoughts or we may find ourselves engaging in behaviours that are 'strange' or 'weird' that we may not fully understand why we are so we may want to repress or deny them to get rid of them.
Although we are aware the situations we find ourselves in are very different in adult life with different people involved, the same feelings are invoked from way back then. Most, if not all people do not bring 'mental health' to therapy - they bring catastrophes, it is these catastrophes that are happening in the present that invoke the same emotional residue & underlying feelings from way back then in your history.
After all, think how we feel & who we want when we are unwell...
Think about the child who's 'negative' emotions were never tended to from the parents. Who never received the comfort when they needed it, who in adulthood succeeds in the business world where having the ability to not let emotions overshadow strategic business decisions is an advantage. Who also struggles with intimacy, has a string of failed relationships & marriages because they are terrified of having their own children because they don't want history to repeat itself in some way...
"There is nothing wrong with you. You have patterns to unlearn, new behaviours to embody & wounds to heal. But there is nothing wrong with the core of you & who you are. You are unlearning generations of harm & remembering love. It takes time..."