My approach to therapy is not a one size fits all. As long as I see someone is in the right place to work with me, I adapt my way of working to each client’s unique process.
It’s about healing core pain
Most of the problems we have in life are secondary pain. Secondary pain is a product of unhealed core pain. I have found this to be the case whatever issues my clients present. Addictions, anxiety, burnout, relationship problems, lack of confidence, and most human struggles, are more symptoms of deeper problems than the problems themselves. If you want to deal with the symptoms, it is wise to work on their root cause. Otherwise, when unhealed core pain is driving us, we find ourselves living life in two forms of adaptation.
Living into core pain
Sometimes we live into our core pain, re-enforcing it through addictions, toxic relationships, and self limiting behaviours. We do this because we believe that’s all we deserve!
Living out of core pain
Sometimes we live out of our core pain by pushing for career success, personal achievements, and maintaining a ‘positive vibes only’ outlook on life! Because this striving is driven by unhealed core pain and not authentic self origination, it is not sustainable. I have sat with many successful and high achieving people who suffer chronically with burnout and overwhelm due to the strain of self-avoidance that comes from living out of core pain.
The problem is, we have lost connection with ourselves and live in disunity. In disunity, our minds will not allow our bodies felt experience, our emotions, into conscious awareness. Looking back at painful early life experiences, through our adult lenses, it is easy to reframe and even dismiss them, “My parents did the best they could… I was a difficult child… my teacher was a man of his time… I didn’t have it as bad as some kids!”
In reality, losing connection with ourselves at such an early stage of development is terrifying and traumatising. No amount of positive mental reframing will heal the pain, but carefully guided somatic emotional experiencing, with the right cognitive interventions, will!
Disunity keeps us from feeling unbearable pain, but it also means the loss of many essential things, including our inner sense of safety and trust, self belief, and self-reflection. From here we cannot really know essential things about ourselves such as, what we really love, and what really matters to us, because the full capacity of our body, mind, and nervous system is simply not available to us.
In disunity, an identity around our self worth is formed that, if given voice, would say things like “I am not enough… I am not wanted… I am not loveable… I don’t belong here”. From this flawed identity, we will do everything we can to connect with something that keeps us from feeling our core pain, our sense of inadequacy, and the shame that binds them together. This is fertile ground for the development of addictions, and other maladaptive behaviours. There are many other coping strategies for disunity. Even when we experience ourselves in fragmented and painful dis-ease, we must still find a way to live in the world.
We are in disunity for many reasons. Most often, it comes back to the environments in which we were raised not providing enough of a safe space for us to develop naturally. To become our authentic selves, we need to live with open-minded curiosity and willingness to learn. We need nurturing and supporting during our early years, and skilful guidance and initiation as we transition into adulthood. We need to know how to persevere, overcome our struggles and develop our strengths into resources.
Most of us do not get this kind of parenting and guidance from our elders! At best, most of us get conditional love and acceptance that depends upon us adopting certain behaviours, beliefs and attitudes. That’s if we are amongst the lucky ones! If we are less fortunate, we may face emotional, mental, and physical abuse! We may face broken homes, poverty, and not having much of a chance in life.
Instead of following our inner navigation, the soul’s blueprints, we live in self-preservation mode. We do whatever is necessary to be accepted by those around us just to blend in, feel as safe as possible, and survive!
Somehow, if we look back with enough awareness, we knew who we were within ourselves at a very young age. Maybe this knowing and the path we were here to take wasn’t fully matured or formed, but in some part of ourselves we knew! For most of us, it simply wasn’t possible to express the truth of ourselves freely. It wasn’t safe to be who we knew ourselves to be. Our growth was stunted from the beginning, and we never stood a chance!
Most people think they need to change their behaviours and stop their addictions before any other positive changes can happen. I understand this belief. However, it is an unhelpful obstacle to finding unity and healing. It assumes that our problem behaviours and addictions are an obstacle on the path. In reality, they are very much part of the path!
To find unity and come into autonomy, some self-acceptance is essential. I am not talking about conditional self-acceptance “As long as I stop drinking, I will accept myself!” I am talking about radical, unconditional self-acceptance “Even if my addictive behaviours never stop, I fully accept myself as I am. I am enough as I am!
Let that sink in for a moment…
Self-acceptance cannot be forced. It’s not a mindset you can decide to adopt or train yourself into. Self-acceptance happens as a result of coming into alignment with who you really are. Alignment occurs through the unity that makes processing and healing of core wounds possible. From here we can start showing up for ourselves in the ways we wish our parents, peers, and elders had. We can re-parent ourselves.
As you progress in therapy, the backlog of unprocessed emotional baggage, that has been a barrier between you and your authentic self-expression, begins to heal and integrate. Over time you will experience the freedom to be who you want to be in this one precious life. From here, problem behaviours and addictions slowly fall away because you are no longer in need of them, and whatever attachment you once formed with them has gone!
An Incredible Journey
My approach is not a quick fix. My clients frequently work with me for 6 months. Some clients work with me for a year. Some work with me over multiple years. If your goal is to stop your problem behaviours and addictions without examining other aspects of your life, I understand that. However, this is probably a sign that I am not the right therapist for you. There are plenty of therapists who will support you in that. I am not one of them!
Addiction, and other unwanted habits are not problems to be shut down, disowned, or buried in the shadows. Doing this will only yield short-term gains, while the familiar strains, struggles, and fears persist! As I see it, such issues inform us of our disunity, and are a signpost towards an incredible journey of healing and transformation that is waiting to be taken. Ultimately it is a journey home to yourself. Most people don’t take this journey because they are unaware of the possibility. Others do know about it, but feel unable to go it alone!
If you are ready for this incredible journey in which you reclaim who you are and what your life stands for, then I am happy to be your guide! I offer no guarantees other than my best attention to your process. If you can also give your best attention to your process, positive change is the most likely outcome of the work we do together!