Trust is such an important part of therapy. And, of course, of life…
So do you trust yourself?
To know yourself.
To grow yourself.
A gentleman born in the early 1900’s trusted you, even though you’ve never met. His name was Carl Rogers, and he was a psychologist. And he believed that you – that all of us – have the innate power to understand and heal ourselves. He believed that somewhere inside, you have the solution, the answer, the salve for your life’s struggles. And that trust will help unlock them.
So how do you do that?
On a day that started with torrential rain and umbrella wrestling (and weather forecasts of doom), it seemed almost miraculous to be able to stroll the street in a dry golden-blue-sky evening.
But that’s what happened. Unexpectedly. And it was exactly then that this notice on a shopfront window caught my eye (you can see it in the photo, above):
“All things must pass.”
(And they certainly seem to).
Sometimes this apparent truth about the world feels confronting. Unfair, even. Because these “things which must pass” inevitably include the things we love, and the things we celebrate. The things we might want to hold on to and never let go.
But they’re not the only things that this saying is on about…
I came across a little piece of eternity the other day (there it is in the photo, above). Or, more precisely, it came across me. Tumbling towards me on the footpath. Blowin’ in the wind*.
Ok, so it was also just a loose page of a newspaper, blowing around the street, with an advertisement on it featuring a stone angel pointing towards a single word: “Eternity.”
Just a banal moment of dodging some floating flotsam on my way home. And a bit of a wake-up call.
What do you do when eternity comes barreling right down the street at you?
I picked it up. And could suddenly feel my heart beating. I took it with me.
What will you do with yours?
I was walking in the park this morning. Past the hundreds of thousands of millions of leaves, all applauding each other in the wind.
Which one of them isn’t perfect?
Which leaf hasn’t “lived up to its potential”?
Which has “fallen short”?
They seem like slightly ridiculous questions. (And yet, are there times that you ask them of yourself?)
In light of all of these leaves, the idea of “perfection” seems suddenly a bit lifeless and arbitrary next to the endless, vibrant variations dripping from the boughs.
Grief. It comes to fill our hollows of loss. To accompany our loneliness. To be with our pain.
So when you’ve lost someone important in your life, by death or distance; or if you’ve lost a certain hope for the future; you may find a sense of grief. Or maybe it finds you…
It’s all a bit of an enigma sometimes. For grief is a something in the middle of a new nothing. A heaviness in the emptiness.
And, often, with grief can come tears. Even if you don’t always let yourself cry them…
At this time of year, with all the special occasions and anniversaries and expectations, all those un-cried tears – both old and new – can make themselves felt all the more.
So where do you keep yours?
Where do you actually carry them, your un-cried tears*?
Yep, it’s that time of year already – again. Welcome to the season that packs so much into itself:
It’s a complicated time of year…
So as you prepare yourself for whatever shades of the seasonal spectrum that you will face this time, maybe it’s work asking:
What will you give yourself this year?
(And you know I’m not talking about the material stuff here).
Or perhaps it’s easier to think about what you might like to receive from yourself?
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like an outsider. Like you don’t quite fit in.
Maybe you’re carrying a certain sadness that sets you apart from the places that other people seem to inhabit right now. Or maybe you doubt your worth or your ability to contribute sometimes. Maybe you just feel “different.” Or even “weird.” Or that your values or the way you want to live your life aren’t quite what society currently sees as “normal.”
Feeling a bit out of step with the people around you – your family or work colleagues or friends – is often tough. One theory suggests there are two opposing “life forces” we balance inside ourselves: the “force of individuality” and the “force of togetherness.” Individuality is about our uniqueness, while togetherness is thought to heighten our sense of safety and survival in a group.
So it can be tempting trade self for safety sometimes. To hide your points of difference and gloss over them. To keep the surface calm so that no-one else’s boat is rocked. To muffle the parts of you that would sing a different tune. To shrink yourself to make the anxiety smaller, too. (All of which usually just means that you get to keep all the dissonance inside you, instead of sharing it around).
What if there was another way?
I bought a pair of shoes a little while ago. They’re red. They’re great. They were the last pair in the shop, my size and on sale. Perfect.
Well, not quite, actually, because they pinched a bit when I tried them on. But surely not too much. Surely they’d get better with time… I’ll take them.
But when I tried them on again at home (after wearing them around for days with thick socks on to stretch them), and they still pinched, I thought:
“What planet was I on when I bought these?”
And, instantly, I knew:
Have you ever been there?
It’s a trivial example, but it can happen anywhere – in relationships, in your work, in pretty much any part of life. Wishing that something would fit you, when it just doesn’t … not quite.
For wishing can clash with reality; it can hide what’s really going on; it can get in the way of you making decisions that might be really important to make.
You are not a machine.
You’re mortal. Organic. You don’t come in a shape that will always easily slot into all the timetables and schedules and systems that beckon.
That’s probably no surprise. (And yet how many demands do you put on yourself sometimes?)
So there might be times when you can’t “keep on keeping on,” or where maybe you don’t always have the energy to “push on through.” Where it’s not always so easy to “just do it.”
Times, instead, where you might need to rest.
Respect the boundaries of your humanness – perfectly imperfect just as it is – and simply restore the balance a little. To stop treating yourself like the machine that you’re not…
Cloudy days will come.
For you. For your family. For your friends.
And not just the kind that dominate the skies above you. But also the ones that help set the weather within you. The internal cloudy days that send your mental and emotional landscape into overcast sadness.
Cloudy days will come…
I was thinking this the other day, when some of my family came to Sydney to visit. Even now, in spring, it was suddenly cold and wet again. And even though it was sun that we wanted, it was cloud and some rain that we got (as you can see in the photo).
So what do you do when the internal cloudy days come to visit? How can you get through them? Or maybe even prepare for them? On this year’s Mental Health Day, perhaps it’s worth getting mentally meteorological and taking a look at what you’ll do when your weather changes.