The relief she felt was palpable. She’d been gearing up, psyching herself up to tell me about her past and what had happened and when I told her she didn’t need to – in fact, I didn’t want her to, her body and face softened and relaxed.
Another client reacted to the same information: “Oh, thank God! I’ve told my story so many times now to different counsellors and psychologists over the years and it’s boring! Telling it over and over hasn’t helped.”
Just yesterday I spoke to a woman who’d booked a complimentary strategy session with me. She’d never suffered mental health issues until the second Victorian lockdown, when she started to feel depressed. She’d seen a counsellor and a psychologist and said: “It didn’t help. I spoke about stuff, but nothing changed. It was a waste of time for me. And it was the same for my husband who had depression for a while. He said that when he talked about all his ‘stuff’ he just felt crap afterwards.”
A client with whom I just had our first of three sessions listed off all the numerous therapies she’d tried over the years. She couldn’t count them on her two hands. This is not a person who looks outward to find someone else to ‘fix’ things for her. No. She’s a strong, resilient woman who takes full responsibility for herself and her life. And yet, none of the therapies resolved her issues and allowed her to fully, freely move on in her life.
Person after person come with the same experience – talking about their ‘stuff’ doesn’t help them resolve it. And I’m talking about highly motivated, intelligent, self-aware people; people who are often very successful in their careers. In some cases, describing past experiences is absolutely detrimental to a person’s wellbeing and mental health, not “boring” but traumatic in itself.
Please don’t misunderstand me – counselling services are very important. Psychology is very important. Other therapies are important. It’s just that they’re not effective in resolving issues arising from unresolved stress or distress from the past. They’re not effective in helping us ‘reprogramme’ our neural networks and make true, lasting change effectively, safely and quickly. They might provide tools and methods of managing, but they won’t resolve it.
And yes, in some situations it is extremely important for people to be able to voice their story, particularly if they’ve never told it or never been properly listened to, believed and understood. But in telling one’s story over and over with the aim of being free of its shackles and living life as we want to, we’re deluding ourselves.
There is an effective, respectful, unintrusive way of resolving our ‘stuff’, whether it expresses itself symptomatically as depression, anxiety, chronic stress, low self-confidence, low self-esteem, PTSD or imposter syndrome. Perhaps taking a page out of Einstein’s book would do us all good here: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Take heart and know that real, profound change can happen. If you need to know more, get in touch.