How we react to certain day to day situations and how we manage our emotions is more often than not, linked to earlier experiences in our lives. There may have been a traumatic event or series of events, but in many cases our difficulties stem from our early years and childhood relationships.
Whatever initially brings someone to counselling whether it be struggles with anxiety, depression or anger or difficulties in relationships, when we really think about it, we can often see how our patterns of thoughts, feelings and reactions have been reoccurring in our lives over and over again.
When we were children and experienced painful feelings such as anger, shame or fear we were too young to name them and express how we really felt. Often our parents were (unintentionally) unable to help us to understand and manage our emotions or recognise them as a normal part of our development. They may have been angry when we got angry, may have shamed us for feeling fearful or may have underestimated our distress. We may have been punished, humiliated or ignored, leaving us feeling vulnerable and alone.
So, the feeling themselves became ‘dangerous’ and we developed coping mechanisms to protect ourselves from them. We ignored them, suppressed them, or developed volatile and destructive response patterns to them. This left us alone and confused with un-processed feelings, making it difficult to process other difficult feelings later on.
In therapy, we can re-experience our feelings in a safe, non-judgemental, empathetic environment. We are no longer alone with the distressing and frightening emotions. Through reflecting back on our lives, our childhoods and early relationships, our patterns of thinking and feeling we can get in touch with our emotions. We can see why we react in certain ways, why we struggle with certain things. Being able to see a bigger picture and find a new perspective can be a truly transformative and healing experience.
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