Rebuilding the Relationship with Yourself

Clients come to see me for many reasons but more often than not it boils down to the damage they have done to their most important relationship. That relationship is the one with themselves.

I don't say that to them until a few sessions have passed and I have enough evidence to show that the relationship is damaged. It's a little abstract and silly to some and so it's not one of my first questions but it will come. 

"How is your relationship with you?"

In my current practice, I work with adults only. At this stage in life, they have developed a part of them that parents (guides, protects, motivates and reprimands their inner child).

If you've rolled your eyes at the words "inner child" then you can call it by a different name such as "ego, mind, soul, spirit, subconscious, character, individuality, self, spirituality, essential nature, inner self, true being."

Often they see that inner child as the problem. The part of them that is out of control and needs to be suppressed. In fact it often has. And it often got a lot of negative consequences for being so true and free. Living a life where the inner child or the protective parent run the entire show can lead to a lack of well being. As in anything I promote, balance is the name of the game. 

If you just do what you feel or if you never do what you feel; If you speak your truth without thought to future implications or if you hold back your truth completely in hopes to avoid pain; If you are all about yourself or you are all about others. You see where I am going....neither extreme seems to be healthy for adults, couples, families, or communities. 

Honoring the different parts of us as EQUALLY important - as equally relevant, as equally CRUCIAL - can be the first step to cherry picking the best qualities of our "inner child" and the best qualities of our "inner protector" and having them work together, compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses, and make you the best you possible.

Exercise: take a moment, take a deeeeeep breath, close your eyes, take another deep breath. Ask, "what do you need?". Be silent. Observe the first answer that floated to the surface effortlessly. 

By giving that "truth" space - honoring it instead of dismissing it or minimizing it - you take a step toward that balance. If you have ignored or bullied your inner child for years, it's learned to hide. But it's still there. Show it by actions - not words - that you value it, that you will listen to it and that at the end of the day you will make the healthiest life moves for it even if it feels like it has to hear a "no" right now for bigger gains later. Slowly, that "inner spirit" will get louder and more accurate again (as it was when you were a very young child and before life got to you).

Be brave and try.

 

It Might Be Time to Change Counselors

Many therapists and coaches will support you toward change. But not so much when it comes to moving on from them.

While some people benefit from a long term (sometime even decades long) professional relationship with their counselor, often the reasons for staying are not actually beneficial for you.

 

Here are some of the reasons people stay too long:

  1. Change is scary and overwhelming
  2. Therapeutic relationships tend to mimic corrective parental figures and separation induces anxiety
  3. We are afraid to hurt our counselor's feelings - appear ungrateful or even feel like we are abandoning them

Here are some reasons counselors don't encourage you to move on:

  1. They don't see/are not aware that it's time - that you are ready
  2. They do not have healthy boundaries/their own unresolved issues and will take it personally if you leave
  3. They don't want to give up the income

Here are some indicators that it's better for you to move on:

  1. The stated goals of treatment have been met
  2. Several weeks have passed with no sense of movement toward progress
  3. You have more to do but you feel that the counselor has taken you as far as they can with their skill set and understanding
  4. You started keeping things from your counselor because you don't trust how they will handle it, you don't feel safe to express without judgement, or you are trying to maintain the image you think the counselor has of you

 

Any good life coach or therapist measures part of the success of their practice by your ability to handle life without them. If you have increased self awareness, self regulation, coping skills, positive/realistic self talk, body/mind/soul balance, and a healthy support system....that is the gold!

We start with the ending in mind. Even in my initial phone consults where you and I decide if we should consider working together, I ask "What is your definition of success? What would make you feel that it was time to end our work together?"

The focus of any good clinician is to support you in flying high. Feeling safe enough in your own being to take the chances toward the dreams you have.

Tune into your own experience in sessions. See how you feel 3-4 sessions later and if the sense of "I'm ready for the next chapter" is still there, have that conversation with your counselor. If there is a clinical basis to continue working together then all theory goes out the window and you do what is best for you. You keep seeing that counselor if it helps. 

I'm inviting you to be brave enough to look at your experience and then brave enough to do something about it.  After all, isn't that why you came?

If your counselor appears hurt or completely dismisses your feelings about moving on then you are most likely with the wrong match anyway. It is your needs and only your needs that matter in the therapeutic relationship. If you are putting your counselor's needs before your own then that is a clinical issue in and of itself to address - with them or with the next counselor.

Getting another professional's outlook on your goals brings in new energy to you and the work itself. Anyone who has done sessions knows it's work if you are doing it right - because you are creating real change.

Has it been a year or 5 or 10 since you met with a different life coach or therapist? Check in with yourself. Discuss it with them. Be brave to take care of you - because ultimately that is one of the biggest reasons you connected to this professional in the first place.