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Different roles, hidden pain and inner strength.

Counselling — admin @ 4:49 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week we got to talking in an informal way about the different worlds that we inhabit as we go about our daily business. We had just come back from a walk up the street to call into the bank. We found it very interesting to observe the differing roles of the people we met along the way. We met a woman coming out of an insurance office. She was holding several sheets of paper which we gathered were related to either a car or home insurance transaction. She might have just called in to make a premium payment. Maybe she was filing some paperwork relating to a claim. And we wondered what story might be involved in that. At the bank there were lots of customers waiting either for the cash desks or for customer service. The customers played their roles and got their business taken care of and the bank staff looked professional and dressed appropriately and went about their work with the relaxed formality that their role places on them.

When we got back to the office we spoke about the different roles that people play and how even ordinary day to day business can seem to follow a script with participants like characters acting parts in a play. It struck us how different many of these roles are from the roles which people describe to us in our work. The contrast between the commercial and occupational activity of the main street and the personal dramas of people’s ordinary lives seems stark. People who come to our building set aside some of the formality of their day to day roles. Here we have a space to explore roles that might be regarded as more fundamental. Instead of commercial or other systems people talk about love and life and loss. Among the roles talked about here are those of mother, father, son, daughter, lover or friend. The struggle is to set aside the outer world and get in touch with more personal, internal scripts and to begin to consider rewriting them.

It is hard to tell when we meet someone in their outside role whether they are happy or not. At times someone might not even have a good awareness of whether they really are happy where they are at in life. It may not occur to someone that there is anything that can be done about it. At other times in life we can be quite aware that there are stresses and difficulties which affect us badly and make everyday life a struggle. It is very striking for us when we see someone trying to maintain their public persona while dealing with private pain which is hidden from view.

The task in therapy is to set aside the roles we play in our outside lives and get right down to the basics of what makes us a person. The work requires that we delve into the vulnerability that lies behind the self that we show to the outside world. It is our privilege here in Counselling Connections that we meet people at this level every day. It is by looking at our real self that we get to better understand the influences that make us what we are. It is through this journey that we come to appreciate the ways in which the outer world can weigh on us and cause us to struggle in our day to day life. Therapy can strengthen our ability to respond to the demands of the roles we are placed in by consolidating the inner self that is the bedrock of our public persona.

Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

The process of change; roadblocks and transformation.

Counselling — admin @ 7:32 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week everybody is a little put out. There are road works taking place outside our building and our end of the street is closed to traffic. Counsellors and clients alike have to make adjustments to their normal routines to work around the road closures. It has left a few people running late and coming in to us feeling a little stressed and harried. That’s okay though because stressed and harried is part of our stock in trade here; we can manage that. What the whole thing has highlighted is the difficulty we experience with any process of change.

The changes to the road system here are to facilitate cycle lanes. You would think that the outcome of these changes could be a positive addition to the locality. That is not how people are experiencing it. One of the aspects of this that is of interest to us is the apparent disconnect which leaves locals feeling that they have no part in the planning process. There is also the question as to the appropriateness or otherwise of spending taxpayers’ money on cycle lanes in these times when there are so many areas of the public budget which might be of higher priority. The sense of decisions being made far away that have no relevance to local needs feeds on this. This can leave people feeling that they are placed in a position like that of a child in relation to the planner who can take the position of parent. And this can bring up all sorts of frustrations form our early lives.

Feelings of disenfranchisement that are expressed in relation to a planning matter like this are also mirrored in how we experience change in other areas of our lives. Whether we are in relationship with a romantic partner, a business partner or employer we will from time to time be faced with changes that are not of our choosing. A first reaction to a proposed change is often resistance. Indeed, we can dig our heels in and became stuck in this part of the change process. One of the things that may lie behind this is a sense that we can never quite gain control over our own destiny. A new change proposal that leaves us with feelings of dread that we have felt over and again in our lives might be a sign, ironically, that we may need to make some changes ourselves. This is something that can be worked on.

The prospect of change can cause anxiety if we feel that we will not be able to respond to the additional challenges that the change may bring. This is a natural fear and one which is eased by some practical consideration of the new working arrangement. A partnership approach is hugely beneficial here in bringing people together and gaining agreement about a way forward. Real agreement involves taking on board the feelings of the other party. This is not often modelled well either in business or in matters of the heart. It takes a level of openness on the part of the person proposing the change and relies on their integrity and honesty about what they are hoping to achieve.

Each party in a process of change will have their own motives. For all that a period of discussion in advance of a process of change may succeed in alleviating some fears there will always remain some apprehension about the outcome. The disruption that change brings to our lives can really leave us feeling quite unsure. This can lead to a situation where somebody’s motivation can evolve into a resistance to any change. It can feel safer to avoid the upset at the disruption that change can bring. Sometimes it requires a little trust and a leap of faith that the outcome will be a positive one. And at other times change is painful and messy and calls for an amount of determination and endurance in making the transformation a better one.

Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

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