— Articles, Insight, and Self-Help —
We reach out to therapists because we want to change the way we feel. Most therapists and coaches, however, will very quickly turn the focus onto your thoughts. Their justification, of course, is that if you change (or control) your thoughts, then you will change the way you feel. But changing your thoughts doesn’t really make all that much different in the long run.
A large part of being alive is feeling emotions. Emotions are exceptionally powerful things that make our lives worth living, but can also cause us exceptional pain. In today’s society, emotions have be given a bad rep. They are often seen as inconvenient and unhelpful, and the advice we are given is that we need to learn how to control and master them, or to distract ourselves from them, or meditate them away. But emotions are exceptionally important things, which if we can learn how to understand them, then they can guide us.
We all know what anxiety, stress, and depression are like, and how hard they are to overcome. The answer, we are told, is to change our thinking, tell ourselves we’re worthy, or take up yoga or meditation. But do these approaches actually create a genuine and lasting change? For some they do, but for others, they are left falling in and out of those distressing states, never gaining the sense of peace that they need so much.
It is not uncommon for life to throw us a curveball, and for us to be left feeling emotionally distressed. Work pressures, relationship and parenting issues, and bereavements are all very hard to cope with. As a psychotherapist, these events, however, are rarely what I focus on, because the real source of distress is not in what happens to us, but how we deal with or respond to what happens to us. This is where the real work is done, and this is where your freedom from distress lies.
We all face difficulties in our daily lives that lead us to feel distressed. Arguments, problems at work, bullying, relationship and parenting issues, and bereavements. These things can be very challenging to deal with, but given enough time and with support from friends and loved ones, we are able to process these events and move on. Sometimes, however, this natural process gets interrupted and we get ‘stuck’ in negative emotions and unhelpful thought processes such as worry.