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Recently my back has been playing up.  I have a wonderful Chiropractor who I see regularly to keep things in check, but I must admit, other things have taken priority.  I am now at the point where I cannot sit on the sofa for any duration of time, car journeys are excruciating, and lifting my children causes real pain.  It’s safe to say, I am booked in, and I am looking forward to being sorted.

Physical pain is a powerful call to action.  When we experience pain, it can get in the way of going about our everyday life and it motivates us to seek help and find a resolution.

Our response to emotional pain can be very different to physical pain.  There is a temptation to put a plaster over the problem.  We might:

  • Turn to alcohol to help numb the pain.
  • Use food to cope or gain control by restricting or binging.
  • Decide spending money on material things will help us feel happier.

In moderation, none of these behaviours are harmful.  However, when they become an emotional crutch or way of coping, it can add to the emotional burden.  They also prevent us from dealing with the underlying issue.

Emotional pain and therapy

By the time most people reach out to me for therapy, their emotional pain can feel too much to bear.

When people walk into the therapy room, they walk in with a bag much like the one Mary Poppins took to the Bank’s household. As they start to unpack, they see for themselves just how much they have been carrying.  Is it any wonder they are struggling?

Why do people let it get so bad?  In my opinion, these are the 3 main reasons:

  1. There is no silver bullet

If you have a headache, you take a painkiller.  If you have a chest infection, you take antibiotics.  When it comes to emotional suffering however, there is no silver bullet.

It can take time to unpack and examine all you have been carrying around.  Yet it is necessary to do this for people to have better relationships, improve their confidence, be kinder to themselves, improve boundaries, feel calmer, experience less stress…the list goes on. Counselling is the best form of self-care, and it is absolutely possible to feel better as a result.

  1. “I’m not worth it”

The way in which we value ourselves can play a huge role in seeking help.  If you have a good sense of self-worth, you believe you deserve to be happy and are worth the investment of money and time.  Yet many of us struggle to see our worth and certain thoughts prevent us from reaching out:

  • “I’m not bad enough.”
  • “I don’t want to take up a space as there are people worse than me.”
  • “I don’t want to waste the counsellor’s time.”
  • “The counsellor will think I’m silly.”

Counselling is by no means self-indulgent.  It can be an absolute life saver and transforms lives.

  1. “I feel like a failure”

Whilst there is less stigma surrounding counselling, people can see it as a sign they can’t cope.  They can feel shame and embarrassment, that they have failed in some way.  However, life is complex.  We never know what is round the corner and it is normal to struggle and need help at certain points.

Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental illness

Seeking help for emotional distress is just the same as seeking help for a physical health problem.  Try to put aside those messages that say to suck it up or pull yourself together.  Those messages will just prolong your pain and suffering, preventing you from leading the life you deserve.

Just as I am happy to invest in treatment for my back, I am willing to invest in my emotional wellbeing too.

About seeking therapy, a fellow counsellor Jane Travis says, “Counselling is the best gift you can ever give yourself”.  I think this is particularly relevant as Christmas fast approaches.  Maybe a contribution towards your self-care could be exactly what you need.

If you would like to know more about how professional counselling can help, follow me on social media and/or sign up to my newsletter by providing your details in the “contact me” section of my website.