Holidays, Counselling and your Shadow
- Counselling; A time to end and a time to begin1st March 2017
- Counselling and the art of giving back1st February 2017
- And this year I will…..1st January 2017
- Social Anxiety, Counselling and Christmas1st December 2016
- Couple Counselling – and just when is a discussion an argument1st November 2016
- Therapy, Mobiles and the Challenge of Choice1st October 2016
- Counselling, September and an Ellison’s Orange 1st September 2016
- Counselling – A room with a view1st August 2016
- Counselling: Choices and Decisions1st July 2016
- Counselling, Musee d’Art et d’Histoire and the Inevitability of Change1st June 2016
- Counselling and the art of Ambiguity. 1st May 2016
- Repetition; Normality or Folly. A Counselling Perspective1st April 2016
- Lions, Lambs and Therapy3rd March 2016
- Valentines Day, Counselling and the Great Unknown1st February 2016
- Janus Faced? The New Year, Counselling and Psychotherapy1st January 2016
- So which road do we travel this Christmas...1st December 2015
- Counselling, Guy Fawkes and Scapegoating1st November 2015
- Counselling Work and Narrative Therapy1st October 2015
- Counselling, Therapy and the end of Summer1st September 2015
- Wheat, Rye and Counselling1st August 2015
- Counselling and a break away3rd July 2015
- Counselling and the unexpected1st June 2015
- Counselling, Elections and our opportunity to choose1st May 2015
- Therapy, an April fool and the art of lost memory1st April 2015
- A Spring Clean Therapy and Counselling1st March 2015
- Couple Counselling & Valentines Day1st February 2015
- Nothing changes if nothing changes but this year can be different!1st January 2015
- Social Anxiety Disorder A Christmas Concern1st December 2014
- SAD & those dark Winter nights1st November 2014
- Existential Counselling A useful approach or pretentious jargon?1st October 2014
- Counselling, Therapy and a return to work1st September 2014
- Holidays, Counselling and your Shadow1st August 2014
- Couple Counselling and Choice1st July 2014
- Counselling, Jules Rimet and you A therapeutic perspective1st June 2014
- Counselling and Mayday A different take on a familiar story?1st May 2014
- Useful Therapy and not an April Fool1st April 2014
- Counselling, Floods and Pandoras Box1st March 2014
- Counselling and the art of being normal1st February 2014
- The New Year and a time for change?1st January 2014
- Christmas & Counselling The first Noel1st December 2013
- Counselling, Broomsticks & Halloween1st November 2013
- Couple Counselling and just what is a successful relationship?1st October 2013
- Counselling An issue of choice?1st September 2013
- Existential Counselling From Yalom to Basingstoke1st August 2013
- Counselling and the art of reframing1st July 2013
- Counselling - Change or Conformity?1st June 2013
- May Day Counselling - Celebration or Conflagration ?1st May 2013
- Summer Time & the Counselling Room1st April 2013
- Depression a useful diagnosis or an unhelpful label?1st March 2013
- An Emotional Timeline3rd February 2013
- Resolution, Revolution & Counselling1st January 2013
- Christmas, Carols & Counselling2nd December 2012
- Seasonal Affective Disorder and the SAD Season4th November 2012
- Psychotherapy & Counselling A Stoic Perspective17th October 2012
- 10th October 2012 - World Mental Health Day5th October 2012
- A First Meeting Explanation or Exploration?5th September 2012
- CBT, Mental Filtering and the Olympics19th August 2012
- I am not an angry man 14th July 2012
- Art, Counselling & Interpretation26th June 2012
- Murder Mysteries and Psychotherapy25th May 2012
- The importance of choice in therapy29th April 2012
- Reflections on Spontaneity6th April 2012
- A personal trainer for the mind 12th March 2012
August suggests holidays – and holidays can take many different forms. But whether that means traveling, exploring, swimming or just reading, those breaks away from the normal routine can also provide a good time for reflection.
As you look out across the beach, a city scape, the countryside or whatever vista features prominently in your chosen holiday, I wonder where your mind will start to drift and what you will begin to think about.
Holidays can be a good time to take stock and indulge in a little introspection. And perhaps a spot of navel gazing fits rather well with the swimming costume!
“Where am I going, what am I doing, who should I be with” – and that existential thought of ‘who am I’. That type of reflection may be really enlightening but it can also sometimes invoke some rather critical thinking.
In particular I am thinking of what I regard as our shadow. Most of us have a shadow. To ensure that this particular shadow does not become confused with any Jungian concepts I will label this particular shadow ‘it’.
You probably know what ‘it’ is. ‘It’ is that rather awkward aspect of your personality or behaviour which comes into your mind when you are feeling discontented with yourself. ‘It’ is what seems to be different about you when you compare yourself to others or to that ideal of how you want to be.
‘It’ can be identified as your way of responding to others which can have the potential to irritate. ‘It’ is that behaviour which has sometimes left you wondering why you spoke out in a certain way.
This habit called ‘it’ is what has pulled you into trouble whether that was years ago, last month or even last week. Just thinking about ‘it’ can encourage sleepless nights and ‘it’ is excellent at exacerbating already difficult situations.
‘It’ is always around. ‘It’ is the one thing about you that others say definitely needs changing – and you may reluctantly find yourself agreeing. ‘It’ has to go, ‘it’ has to be different, ‘it’ really has to change.
This ‘it’ can take many forms. ‘It’ can be what you regard as your inappropriate temper, your intolerance or your ability to sulk. It can be that tendency to withdraw. It can be a recourse to silence or ‘it’ can be your propensity not to let go of an argument.
‘It’ could be your stubbornness or perhaps that insistence to always have the last word. ‘It’ may be reflected in that knee jerk response when you find yourself saying out loud what you think everyone else must be thinking.
Whatever form ‘it’ takes, the world tells you that ‘it’ is a problem which really needs to be sorted - but does it? Is there another view you could adopt?
Perhaps one challenge is about how ‘it’ is seen. If we label someone or something as a problem, then each time that person or object appears that is exactly what we will see – a problem.
But is that really how it is for you and your shadow? Maybe the problem could actually be the label and the interpretation that you and others are applying.
Differentiation can be uncomfortable. If you have a fear of standing out then ‘it’ may have a strong foundation within your emotional being. But do you really want to be exactly the same as everybody else? You can of course decide to adopt the mannerisms of others and try to become a mirror clone of your work colleagues, neighbours or friends. But is that what you really want. What about the unique individual that is you?
And you are of course an individual. There is an authentic you. Perhaps part of what makes you unique is actually this characteristic we have labelled as ‘it’? Maybe this very thing you keep labelling as a problem has an upside that you have been ignoring.
Is it possible to see ‘it’ in another way? If ‘it’ helps you to stand out and to be noticed, perhaps ‘it’ has some very real benefits that you keep overlooking.
Let’s think about those examples. If ‘it’ enables you to be seen and recognised as someone who is able to speak out despite the consequences, perhaps that is a strength. It may be an aspect of your personality that some will envy.
If ‘it’ enables you to tenaciously hold on when others let go, that may be a reflection of your inner resolve. Perhaps some of those exhortations from others demanding that you should change, may disguise a feeling of ‘I wish I was brave enough to be like that’.
Of course if ‘it’ causes you nothing but problems, then we should recognise that there probably is a need for some adjustment. Perhaps there could indeed be advantages in just turning down the personal volume a little.
And if that is difficult to do on your own, then consider coming to talk and talk with a counsellor or a therapist. Whatever our way of working, from CBT to traditional psychotherapy, we can help you to look at understanding and changing.
But if you and I were talking together, our starting point may well be to look again at ‘it’. Is ‘it’ really a problem? Could ‘it’ actually turn out to be a gift in disguise? Is ‘it’ a benefit which you have not been able to recognise and acknowledge – just because ‘it’ did not fit with what other people expected of you.
So why not use those holiday reflections. Lie back in the deck chair. Take a sip of whatever the local brew is and then try some benevolent thinking about ‘it’ and you.
If the internal music you are playing is too loud then perhaps your personal volume level may need a slight adjustment but this does not mean that ‘it’ needs to be shut down and turned off altogether.
Once you move beyond the chorus of disapproval that you have grown too used to hearing, you may find that some of us are really enjoying the song that you are singing. If you can allow yourself to look again you may discover to your surprise that we – and many others - actually rather like your style!
So just try relaxing, revel in those reflections - and wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you have a great holiday with both the sunshine and that shadow!
added on 1st August 2014
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