Do you still believe that you must have significant mental problems to seek out counselling or coaching?
This belief, together with the tendency to undermine and dismiss your problems and issues, can keep you stuck, for months or years, suffering, struggling and making futile attempts to work things out on your own.
I’m on a mission to debunk this myth. Because I know that just a few sessions (sometimes even one!) with the right person can totally change how your feel in your own skin, in your life and in your relationships.
I know reaching out for support might be a difficult decision for you. But remember, not reaching out is a decision, too. A decision with far-reaching consequences.
Counselling and coaching can help even if you have been stuck and struggling for years.
Let me tell you about my client Lorna. When I met Lorna for the first time she repeated one sentence like a mantra. It was:
‘I just need to wrap my own head around it and figure out what to do’
She would tell me a bit about how lonely and misunderstood she felt in her marriage, her husband being quite distant and very critical, and then in the very next sentence she would say; ‘But it’s ok, ‘I just need to wrap my own head around it and figure out what to do’
She would also tell me how stressed and exhausted she felt taking care of everything and everyone around. Her kids in their late teens and her ageing parents required a lot of her time and energy. And she will end up saying: ‘It’s all good, I just need to wrap my own head around it and figure out what to do.’
Did she have any support? Family, friends?
Not really, she wouldn’t tell her family that she struggled as she didn’t want to worry them.
She wouldn’t tall her friends because she said, they had their own problems and she wouldn’t like to burden them with her problems.
Counselling? Coaching? Of course not! She felt her problems were not serious enough to justify the investment of money, time, and energy. She felt she just really needed to wrap her own head around it and figure out what to do.
I was sure she didn’t even realize that she was repeating this sentence like a mantra.
So I asked; How long have you been trying to get your head around it and figure out what to do?
She paused and looked away. For a long moment, we sat in silence.
When she looked back at me her eyes were filled with tears.
’10 years’ she said
Just imagine this.
Ten long and lonely years of trying to manage everything on her own without asking anyone for support.
What has changed once Lorna decided to engage in counselling
We worked together for a few months. Six months after this transformative conversation we had on the Discovery Call she was like a different person.
Her marriage was on the mend, she was just starting her new job (one that is her dream job really) and she had reconnected with 2 of her best friends who were great support for her.
But first and foremost she felt confident, full of energy, strong, and resilient.
She was thriving.
All because she decided to reach out for support and then, of course, she did the work.
Just 6 months, after 10 long years of struggling in silence.
How long have you been trying to wrap your own head around things and figure out what to do?
Let me share with you 6 signs that are a clear indication that it’s time for you too, to reach out for support.
Sign #1 – You live in constant distress – counselling and coaching can help!
Living in constant stress is not only a health wrecking but also a very miserable way to live your life. And often quite unnecessary.
Of course, there are moments when we go through challenges, transitions or crises, which bring about a lot of stress. But apart from that, our everyday life is not supposed to be a race or a battlefield. If it is, we need to have a closer look at how much our own mind – our thoughts, beliefs and patterns- contribute to this constant sense of threat, pressure and hurry we live in.
Chronic stress is deadly. Research shows that 90-95% of illnesses and diseases are stress-related. You can put a lot of care and attention into what you eat or how your exercise. However, if you don’t address your stress levels – it won’t take you far.
Chronic stress is also very tricky because we get used to it really easily.
You can check it for yourself. Right now, as you are reading this blog post, stop for a moment, close your eyes and take a deeper breath. Without any judgement, just with curiosity, notice your shoulders, your jaws, your belly… Are they soft and relaxed? Or, can you feel some tension? Notice if your chest feels light or heavy. Whether you can feel a lot of space inside your chest. Does your breath flow freely? Is it easy or does it feel restricted in any way?
The problem is that we get used to living with plenty of tension in our muscles. We adapt to using only a small fraction of the full capacity of our lungs when breathing. We stop paying attention to how our bodies and hearts are feeling. As a result, we forget what it feels like to breathe fully, to have relaxed shoulders, to have a soft belly…
Constnat distress comes in 2 differnet forms
As you might know, whenever you are in a stressful situation your nervous system has 2 main ways of responding to it. First, it goes into mobilisation – fight or flight response- that keeps you in a state of intense energy and agitation. But at some point, if this feels like not enough to cope with the challenge – another pathway starts to kick in. This is the path of freeze and collapse. It is a state of withdrawal. A state, where energy is very low and your system is basically preparing for the possibility of death.
Each of these pathways is accompanied by a cascade of chemical and hormonal reactions in your body. When overused, these chemical and hormonal reactions start to wreak havoc on your emotional wellbeing and physical health.
So, you need to pay close attention to the following signs and if you recognise them from your life, remember that counselling and coaching will help you bring your system back to balance.
You might be in the state of chronic fight/flight if you:
- feel constantly tense
- keep yourself busy all of the time and find it difficult to stop and unwind (or need a bottle of wine to be able to do so),
- live in a constant state of vigilance, like something bad is going to happen any moment, stay on high alert
- find it difficult to focus and are often distracted and unable to complete your tasks
- feel overwhelmed by the constant chatter of thoughts in your head (that might be keeping you from having peaceful sleep at night)
- suffer from anxiety and /or panic attacks
Or, you might be in the state of chronic freeze/collapse if you:
- frequently feel tired /exhausted, your energy is often low
- everything is an effort, you seem not as interested as before in activities (or people) that you used to love
- often experience brain fog and you are not able to focus, think clearly and/or make decisions
- feel disconnected from yourslef, others and the world around
- feel stuck in life and/or unable to make a move forward
- suffer from depression , or verious autoimmune conditions like chriinc fatigue syndrome or fibromalagia
Living in constant distress means there is little or no excitement, joy and peace in your life. It is all about survival.
Do not fall victim to the belief that because you are still able to function ‘normally’, your struggles and problems are no ‘serious enough’ to invest time, energy and money into counselling and coaching. They always are!
Sign # 2 – Your past is stealing your present and your future.
Let’s talk about trauma for a moment. Trauma with a small ‘t’. We all know about Trauma with the capital T – abuse, violence, accidents, wars, cataclysms, etc. This kind of trauma can have devastating effects and trauma survivors often need significant support, therapy and medication to recover and heal.
But we often forget that there is also trauma with the small t. Trama that is not so obvious to the external observer (or sometimes even to ourselves) – but it can have an equally devastating impact on us.
Polyvagal theory shows us that trauma is any event or situation that is too overwhelming for our nervous system to process and integrate. It can be a seemingly irrelevant event. But for us personally, it was too much because we didn’t have, at the time, enough resources (internal or external) to cope with it.
Just to give you an example of some of ‘small t’ traumas my clients went through:
– L. was about 6 when she got in trouble at school and the teacher embarrassed her in front of the whole class,
– O. was about 3 her dad got enraged and started to hit the table with his fist which scared her to the bone
– J. was in her early 20s when her best friend’s betrayed her by sharing one of her deepest secrets in her workplace.
All these events left a deep imprint on my client’s nervous systems and have impacted the way they felt about themselves, other people and life in general.
Your past keeps creating your present. Your present creates your future.
You might have heard the saying: The past is just a thought, the future is just a thought and the only thing that is real is this very moment.’
So true, but it turns out your past is much more than ‘just a thought’.
From the point of view of neuroscience, your past is still alive- right here and now, in the intricate neuronal connections and webs of your brain. And not only alive but, actively impacting how you feel, think and behave in the present moment.
From the time you were born (or even from the moment of conception) you have been shaped by both your genetic makeup and the impact of your environment. All important events, significant relationships, moments of overwhelm and moments of elation have left traces in the neuronal maps of your nervous system.
Your brain has stored all this information in order to create your own, unique strategies for survival.
The problem is these strategies are often out of date. What worked well when you were 5 years old might be running you into a lot of trouble when you are 50.
Counselling and coaching can help you resolve the puzzle of why you live your life the way you do and why you feel about yourself the way you do so that you can finally make peace with your past, forgive, heal and reclaim your freedom.
These are clear signs that you could benefit greatly from couselling or coaching support to break free form the prison of the past:
- often keep thinking about things that happened in the past, ruminate about past hurts, choices and decisions you regret now.
- still hold on to anger, resentment or bitterness about your past. You find it hard to forgive and move on.
- feel like you can’t live the way you want to live, because of what happened to you or what you did in the past
- repeat patterns that run you into trouble over and over again, but somehow you feel unable to break free from them
- have strong emotional reactions – to certain situations, people, places, sometimes even scenes in the movies that are diffcult to you to undersatand and control
If any of these sound familiar, remember:
Your past keeps creating your present. Your present keeps creating your future.
Getting support from a counsellor or coach is the way to break free from the prison you keep yourself in. The world is wide open, and the key is in your hand,
Sing #3 – You feel like you’re not good enough – counselling and coaching will help you build your self-worth and self-confidence.
Self-worth is one of the most common issues we struggle with and, at the same time, the one we very rarely seek help with. Yet, it is counselling and coaching that is the best and easiest way to make the change and start feeling much better about yourself.
- Two-thirds of women are not confident in their ability to do their job
- More than half of women do not believe they are liked
- 62 % of women do not believe they are intelligent.
- 84% of people aged 35-54 don’t feel confident in their appearance
- 90% of over 45s do not feel they are attractive
These statistics are eye-opening and still, they don’t reveal the whole truth.
Sometimes, the only thing we feel is this vague, underlying sense that we are not good enough or that there’s something wrong with us that runs like an undercurrent throughout our life. We breathe the toxicity of this belief every day and it stops us from living our life we way we long to live it.
The tricky part here is that we often believe our ‘unworthiness’ and what it tells us. We bought into the belief that this is who we are and so don’t even consider changing the belief that keeps us stuck feeling small, undeserving, unloveable and/ or unattractive. We try to change, fix, better ourselves which never works until you address the underlying cause.
If any of the below situations feel familiar to you, you can be sure that your self-worth has something to do with it.
Signs that your self-worth needs a bit of a bost:
- are overly critical, mean or even bullying toward yourself. You are your own worst enemy, indeed of being your own best friend
- attract and stay in relationships that are toxic or abusive, or where you feel like your needs are chronically neglected
- take care of everything and everyone aro ga nd you feel like you’re not getting much in return. You feel like people take you for granted.
- feel like you always need to make an effort for others, to
- struggle with setting or maintaining heavy boundaries, speaking up, allowing yourself to be fully and apologetically you.
Your self-worth, self-confidence and self-esteem always have long roots. These roots reach into your childhood and your relationships with your caregivers, extended family members, teachers etc. You have built your self-worth in and through the interactions with others, and that is why it is so difficult (or even impossible) to change it on your own.
You need a deep, safe and authentic connection with others to start to unravel and heal the beliefs that keep you feeling small and inadequate. A therapeutic relationship, which is the most important part of counselling and coaching, is the best opportunity to do that.
To be continued…
Next week I will share with you the remaining 3 easy to miss signs it’s time to reach out for support. If any of these signs sound familiar to you, let’s talk. Book your free 30min Clarity Call. I will help you find out what kind of support will be most beneficial for you right now! No need to struggle on your own!