Are you haunted by the ghosts of a difficult past experience? Or perhaps by the demons of still-current destructive urges? Perhaps the Halloween celebrations can also be celebrations of your freedom from thoughts that go “bump” in the night.
It seems that many people are haunted by experiences that were traumatic and that endure in a way that infuses and even invades their daily life. Sometimes these are childhood experiences and sometimes they come from more recent events. In both cases, they may follow us where ever we go, poking our spirit with unwelcome memories and disturbing images. Sometimes a certain voice echoes in our hearts with hurtful words, and lingers with a chill even on the warmest day. Clients have told me of old voices of former partners who taunted them with “You just don’t want me to have more of him.” or “I could have anyone else in 5 minutes” or “Why should I care? What’s the point?” Other times the memory and voice is from long ago, from family or family friends, distant and hollow yet still powerful and able to pierce deeply and painfully with messages of “this is the last time.”
Difficult or even terrible memories of personal trauma from accidents, crime victimization, the sudden loss of loved ones, and the diagnosis of challenging or terminal medical conditions can also haunt us and cast a somber mood over our every moment.
If you find yourself chased by the ghosts of times and events past or present, and cannot within yourself bring them away into the light, it’s time to seek the help of a qualified therapist to help you re-kindle your imagination in a more positive and hopeful way. It’s time to start on a path of freedom from what haunts you.
Call today to blow a breath of fresh air into your life, and chase those ghosts, and even those demons, away.
It takes hard work and perseverance to change habits of thought, feeling and behavior that have had years to become entrenched.
But the changes you can make in therapy may feel almost magical!
Many clients initially feel frustrated and impatient at not being able to immediately make substantial changes in their life once they begin therapy. Often the emotional ache has been on the surface for some time before a person makes the decision to actually begin psychotherapy. Once having begun, the work of discovering, illuminating and altering deep feelings and beliefs, then changing behaviors accordingly, you may feel some impatience to have your life quickly reflect your commitment to change. Usually however the process of making real and lasting change takes time.
My suggestion is that you accept your natural pace of making changes, and in the beginning focus more on the discovery and illumination aspects of therapy. Rushing into changes without understanding the emotional source of your past choices my feel safely gratifying, but may not result in the sustained changes that will ultimately bring you more of what you want in life. True, it can be challenging to really examine your life and how it came to be what it is. It might result in feeling of remorse or loss or anger. You may find you have to forgive others for their transgressions, and forgive yourself for your conduct towards others. There may even be events and situations that you wish you could “fix” but are unable to do so. You will not be smiling after every therapy session, as the difficult thoughts and feeling you have bubble to the service. What may surprise you however, and leave you feeling emotionally stronger is the recognition that you can do better. Not everything is in your control, but you can be in control of yourself and so build a more intentional life style. You can come to terms with your past behavior and either confirm or change your future choices, so that before too long you have created a new history through new conduct.
Consider beginning psychotherapy, and giving yourself the time to change that you deserve.
As you make changes, as you feel better about your life, and the people around you begin to relate to you more positively, you may even begin to feel as though you finally pulled a rabbit out of a hat!
“The control of our being is not unlike the combination of a safe. One turn of the knob rarely unlocks the safe. Each advance and retreat is a step toward one’s goal.” Eric Hoffer
Clients sometimes ask me, in the first therapy session, how long it will take. How long until they feel better? How long until others feel better about them? It’s also often the beginning of a client’s realization and acceptance that there are things I don’t know about them or about how therapy will work for them – and therefore the very beginning of our authentic relationship.
What comes next is something akin to, though not as simple or expressive as Eric Hoffer’s quote that opened this post. For any reader who is contemplating beginning therapy, or has just begun, there could be no more succinct nor more accurate statement about the process of psychotherapy. There is no scripted easy road to personal transformation. Finding our way to a personal awakening, a new beginning, to self forgiveness, self direction and intentional living, is not simply a movement from step A to step Z. It requires of us, client and therapist alike, that we formulate goals yet understand that not all goals are reached or reachable, that we accept some frailties as a legitimate component of the human condition, and that we have and practice the patience and courage to set a course complete with destination, yet succumb to wandering.
As you engage psychotherapy as a guide and inspiration for your personal change, remember Mr. Hoffer’s quote. Let yourself become comfortable with alternately knowing and not knowing where it will lead. Wander through your life with curiosity and the confidence that your therapist will serve as a guide.
And remember: All those who wander are not lost.
May you have a safe and enlightening journey.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently release a report with some concerning statistics. While they estimate that over 24 million people age 18 and older experienced a serious psychological challenge during 2008, less than 50% of received any kind of mental health service. Included in the review were issues such as anxiety. Rates for those experiencing mental distress were highest for young adults (18 to 25 years old) and lowest for people over the age of 50. Alarmingly, those same young adults were least likely to received services 29%) versus over 50% of people over age 50.
The disparity by age group could be partially result of both recognition (younger people may be less likely to recognize mental distress as a serious condition) as well as resources (older people may have better insurance coverage and more expendable income). The numbers are nevertheless concerning. Untreated mental distress can deepen and become a more significant or debilitating challenge, and the prevalence among young people of having untreated mental distress hints at future challenges in the mental health profession.
Anyone experiencing mental distress would be well advised to seek treatment early, as you would with any other condition affecting your well-being.
Further is must be noted that nearly all public media messages about mental and emotional distress are produced by pharmaceutical companies as they market their drugs. I have yet to see one of these ads recommend psychotherapy as either an alternative or an adjunct therapy. These stats indicate that we must do a better job of publicly talking about mental health issues and the array of interventions that are available.