No matter what people tell me their problem is, that is never their problem.
It might seem like the problem and certainly its irritating the f*ck out of them, maybe even causing great pain and distress.
But its not the problem.
Its a symptom of the problem.
The problem is that most people don’t want to face the real problem, don’t want to go deep and do the work that the symptom masks.
Most people would rather hide and say things like:
- I’m a perfectionist and I can’t seem to stop holding myself to impossibly high standards.
- I’m harsh and critical with other people, even the people I love and I’m hardest on myself.
- I’m so uncompromising. I see life as you’re either the problem or the solution, the world is black and white. No ifs, buts or maybes. My way or get out.
- I’m unable to learn anything new, to be different, this is who I am.
- I only care about myself, my self image, am I going to be ok? That’s all I need to know.
- I can’t let people get too close, intimacy is not for me, who needs that? People just take advantage or hurt you.
- See him, that man laying down the law, he’s got it right. Give them an inch. Nothing wrong with a slap, that’s how I was raised and it did me no harm.
Can you see the pain behind each of those statements? Can you see how difficult life is for the person who believes this is how life is?
And they can’t see the wounds, the pain, the trauma behind it and are unwilling to go to that place inside of them where it still exists to heal their hurt.
Imagine going from the above rigid thinking to something like this:
- Mature, thoughtful, nuanced and forgiving
- Being immersed in the present moment, without undue influence from the past nor fears of the future.
- Understanding imperfection, that we all make mistakes and we all sometimes don’t know what we mean or want.
- Making sense of trauma experienced and its impact on relationships
- Adaptable, able to learn and use new skills and find a new place in their world
But how do we do that work when they refuse to even see there’s a need for it?
As my business coach asked, ‘How do you find clients when no-body is willing to admit or even know themselves that they need you?’
And to a large extent he’s right, my client base is an invisible majority of people, and most come to me because of a surface symptom. I have to very gently lead them into understanding that their issue is a much deeper core wound than they might be willing to address.
As my heroine Brene Brown said in her massive TedTalk when she first visited a therapist she said, and I paraphrase, ‘I only want to talk about this and I don’t want to do any of that childhood rubbish.’
And most of us do this. Of course we do. We avoid the place when the pain is deepest, where the wound is slowly leaking out to poison our whole lives.
And day to day, who wants to admit to being hurt, especially when the hurt comes from childhood.
Because when you’re little, you think adults have all the answers, that grown ups are almost impervious to pain. So when you grow up and become an adult and find you’re still hurting from that same wound, what do you do?
You armour up, you strive to be perfect, you hold impossibly high standards and beat yourself up if you don’t match them.
You think you have to always have the right answers, so everything becomes black and white, no grey, no ifs, no buts, no maybes.
And you maybe choose to distract yourself from the pain by numbing out with your poison of choice.
And you keep going, nothing is going to get in your way until something undeniable gives out.
For me the constant stress of always being perfect, of knowing everything or giving the impression I did, finally resulted in a nervous breakdown but I’d been heading there for a long time. And of course the stress didn’t come from striving to be perfect but from the wound that constant striving was attempting to hide.
And every time I went looking for answers, from therapists, naturopaths, acupuncturists and massage healers I always said the same thing when asked about my childhood, I didn’t want to talk about it, it was irrelevant.
Until one day, I just sat in the chair in my therapist’s office and it all came spewing out of me, like a toxic torrent of words and emotion. And I felt ten pounds lighter, just for acknowledging the bloody elephant that I’d been carrying around with me.
But I still didn’t do the work necessary. Until I got sick. Because yes, that’s what happens when you ignore the toxic stress stew of hormones and chemicals you’re living in for long enough; it will make its effects felt on your physical body.
So right now, I don’t want you to think about whether or not you need therapy of any kind, or even if you need to change your life in any way, just think about your responses to the statements below. Allow yourself to honestly see where you’re at in life and whether or not you’re ready for something different.
These question are taken from Changing to Thrive by James and Janice Prochaska. A brilliant book I’m loving reading at the minute.
Behavioural WellBeing: I want to…
- Reduce cravings for smoking
- Reduce cravings for drinking too much
- Reduce cravings for unhealthy food
- Reduce excuses for lack of exercise
- Reduce cravings for other risky behaviours (add your own poison here)
Physical WellBeing: I want to…
- Reduce the risk of high blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of digestive problems
- Reduce the risk of chronic fatigue
- Reduce the risk of headaches
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Reduce the risk of a stroke
- Reduce the risk of colds, flu, or sore throats
- Reduce the risk of high blood sugar
- Reduce the risk of an impaired immune system
- Reduce the risk of teeth grinding and jaw clenching
- Reduce the risk of irritable bowel syndrome
- Reduce the risk of fibromyalgia
- Have fewer injuries
- Have fewer incidents of asthma, hives, eczema
- Have fewer hot spells
- Have fewer backaches
- Have less muscle tension
- Have a body that will be better able to fight off illness and infection
Purposeful WellBeing: I want to…
- Have more interest in the future
- Have better self esteem
- Have more control in my life
- Fucntion better at work and home
- Have more resources to fulfil my passions
Emotional WellBeing: I want to…
- Reduce the risk of anxiety
- Reduce the risk of depression
- Reduce nervousness
- Increase joy in my life
- Feel more relaxed
- Enjoy life more
- Have fewer psychological problems
- Sleep better
- Reduce my worries about the future
- Feel more centered
Social WellBeing: I want to…
- Feel good about the example I’m setting
- Help my loved ones worry less about my health
- Be less grouchy around friends, family and co-workers
- Improve my relationships with others
- Prevent sexual problems
Functional WellBeing: I want to…
- Have more energy
- Improve my concentration
- Increase my motivation
- Reduce periods of forgetfulness
- Improve my ability to make decision
Now, you might have some of the above as a yes for you, you may have all of them or none. You may have many more of your own now that you’re starting to think about it.
And that’s great in and of itself. Because you are now starting to think that life could be different, that it could be better, that you could feel better about yourself, your body and your relationships as well as work, money, how you show up in your community.
This is a great jumping off point because you start to become aware of the limitations on the life you currently are living. And where did those limitations come from? Your original wounds and the protective behaviours you adopted to paper over them.
You’re not necessarily ready to rip that paper down yet, but you’re starting to see the cracks underneath.
That’s where you start. By acknowledging that life is far from how you want it to be right now. That’s enough for today.
And when you’re ready to do more, start thinking about what you do want instead. Fill your head up with that.
And I’ll ask this final question to you….what would you like to happen next?
Yes, I know, you’ve seen the reindeer and you think, ‘nah, I’m not afraid of the snow, I don’t get moody and mean in the long dark nights, I’m not affected by day after day of heavy rain.’ (IF you are, then you need this!)
But have you realised that the work in Winter WonderMind is the same work that can take you from whatever is it that is affecting your life negatively to feeling free and thinking differently about it in simple easy to do steps and exercises?
Honestly, its the lowest investment you can make to work with me. And its chocful of great stuff.