Month: June 2015

“Is that normal?”

This is one question that as a therapist I get asked time and time again. Are those thoughts, feelings or behaviours ‘normal’? It ties into the fear that we are not the same as everyone else. The comparisons we can make to friends, family or even strangers can be incredibly damaging as they can make us feel like outsiders.

What is normal?

Personally, like perfection, I do not believe ‘normal’ really exists. Normality is based on cultural, social and personal constructs. Depending on what country you are from, the town you grew up in and family you were raised, normal can look very different. Instead of asking yourself is something normal or not, ask instead, ‘Is this helping me or hurting me?

  • Do you feel the need to drink alcohol when you’re feeling sad? (help or hurt)
  • Do you internalise your anger until you want to explode? (help or hurt)
  • Are you scared of happiness in your life because you are waiting for the other shoe to drop? (help or hurt)

We often go through life one way, not knowing things could be different. It’s okay to feel sad and want to cry. When you are angry you are permitted to express it as long as you aren’t hurting someone else. Feeling happy doesn’t mean fear is waiting around the corner to take it all away.1235048_10151844828924190_420843887_n

Instead of beating yourself up because your thoughts are weird or your dreams seem unrealistic, embrace it! The truth is, we’re all a little weird, which makes weird ‘normal’. We can all have those bizarre imaginings that makes us shake our heads. But isn’t that amazing? As far as we know, we are the only beings on the planet who can create these worlds in our mind.

The only time you should feel concerned is if these imaginings are bringing you down. If you are always worried about how you are stacking up how can you enjoy the weirdness that is you? Today allow your mind to daydream and go easy on yourself. Life can be such a challenge, you don’t need that voice in your head to add to the struggle.

“There is no such thing as a weird human being, It’s just that some people require more understanding than others.”  – Tom Robbins

Past and Future

Life is fast. It seems even faster when we aren’t being present to the now. Many things keep us away from the present moment, however I believe that it’s negative emotions that pull us the hardest.

What do I mean when I say ‘negative emotions’? These are the parts of the human experience that can be the most difficult to work through. Anger, sadness, jealousy, worry, guilt and being judgemental are not enjoyable feelings. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling them, problems arise when we get stuck in feeling them. Which makes it difficult to let go and find brightness in our world.

I believe guilt (wishing we had or had not done something) and anger (wishing that someone else had or had not done something) keep us in the past. While anxiety transports us to a future that may or may not exist. Focusing all that energy on those moments means that what is happening right now is being missed.

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Being present is no easy feat. So where to start?

  •  Awareness – start noticing your thoughts. Once you take up the role of a non-judgemental observer you can learn a lot.
  • Options – once you have the awareness you have options. The next time a negative thought pops into your head you have a choice to make. You can follow it to the past or future, or instead say ‘no thanks’ and stay in the now.
  • Develop – you can start to train your brain to ignore the fear or not to feel overwhelmed by it. These thoughts aren’t necessarily facts and in this present moment, there is nothing to fear.

As the Summer arrives it’s the perfect excuse to sit outside and focus on your breath. Imagine you are on a sun holiday. Most people find it much easier to relax on holidays because they feel like they’ve left the stress of life behind. That’s partly true but in reality the stressors haven’t changed, your perspective has. Starting today try to change your perspective, attempt not to focus on things that have already happened or have yet to happen. Instead learn how you can let go and be present. Maybe grieve, put the past behind you and start fresh. Live your life as if you are on an eternal holiday. Be grateful for each passing second, because unlike many you are here to be a part of it.

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.” – Ivan Turgenev

Interested in starting psychotherapy?

As a therapist I have the incredible honour of being able to get a glimpse into the lives of others. Usually during the first session clients are nervous, unsure of what to expect. Over time as they open up we are able to build trust and establish a relationship. At its core, this is what therapy is all about. Having a non-judgemental, empathetic listener is incredibly healing.

I often get asked about therapy and counselling wondering about the process. I thought it may be helpful to explain some things. If after reading this you have any additional questions feel free to leave comment or message me.

What’s the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?  The main difference is length of time. Often people start counselling because they have recently been bereaved, they are depressed, feeling anxious or have one issue they want to work through. Psychotherapy is more long term, perhaps after you have started working through one thing you realise there are more aspects of your life you want to understand.

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How long are sessions and how much does it cost? Sessions are usually 50 minutes and here in Ireland if you want to go private, on average a session will cost €60. However, there are many centres that offer low cost services or individuals like myself that offer a sliding scale.

Do I have to talk about my past? I believe to understand the present we need to understand the past. However, you don’t have to share anything that you are not comfortable with. The entirety of your life and past hurts has lead to the perception you have of the world. In some cases that perception is negative or unfairly judgemental of ourself and others. Therapy and objectively examining our past can help demonstrate when patterns began and allow you to have compassion for your struggles.

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What will be different? You. What is so interesting about therapy is that as time goes on you will start to feel different in yourself. Hopefully the end result is that you will feel more grounded, confident and secure in who you are. You may also notice a difference in your reactions and interactions with friends and family. As you feel better in yourself you have less of a reason to lash out which can benefit everyone.

Should I start therapy? I believe everyone could benefit from having a good listener in their lives. If you feel like there are aspects of your life that you want to change counselling or therapy could be great for you. We can get into patterns that are no longer benefitting us, sometimes we need support to change.

I have seen the amazing transformations that can happen thanks to psychotherapy. You can be happy in your life, you just have to decide you want things to be different and start making that happen.

“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.” – Shannon L. Alder