Monday, September 3, 2012

Trust your gut

As a therapist it's my job to be able to sit with someone when they are at their lowest. It's my job to help pull unresolved emotions and fears out of the sub-conscious and into the harsh light of day. This is seldom an attractive or fun process. Feeling things that we are afraid to feel or face takes extraordinary courage. I believe it's my job to make that experience a safe and supported one. I can't take the pain away from my clients but I can provide them a safe, accepting space to experience it. While I encourage all of my clients to speak their truth and be their most authentic selves, I recognize that's asking a lot.

What happens in a therapy office is already charged with emotion and weight. The fact that the individuals involved were unable to resolve whatever it is on their own, is already a sore subject. For many people, asking for help is on par with admitting failure. It is considered a weakness and something to be ashamed of. I have never understood this because I am more than happy to ask for help when I am able to recognize I need it. Unfortunately, recognizing that need and admitting to what it means are two different things.

How do you recognize when you're trying to avoid something or shut it down completely? Look around at what's going on in your life in this moment. Where would you say you are feeling frustrated or stuck? By the way, "nowhere" is not an option. Everybody has stuff. The chances that you are the one person in well over a billion people on earth with zero spots in your life that could use some patching and fresh paint are beyond minimal. Take a step back and look at that statistic. Still think you don't have any life areas that could use a tweak? Congratulations. You can now stop reading this post and return to your life of bliss and leisure. The rest of us will be over here.

Take a moment right now to notice your body. Do a quick scan from head to toe and notice if any part of you stands out either because it feels a bit tight, warm, tingly, sore, achy, acidic, hot, whatever. Place your hands over any place you feel any of these sensations, draw your attention to that spot. Notice how it feels, keep noticing, don't try to stop it from feeling that way. Don't talk yourself out of it. No soothing. Not yet. Allow the sensation to grow and connect to your hands covering the spot. Really feel it. Even if it hurts. Especially if it hurts.

Spend a minimum of 60 seconds (don't rush!) noticing that sensation, enduring the discomfort, and really listening to the message your body is trying to send. Gently ask yourself (or your inner child if you're feeling it) what do I need? What do I need right here, right now, to help me understand and honor this sensation. What is the message?

Do it! Trust your gut! Now!

Your body will communicate its need to you. It will never lie to you even when the truth hurts. Your body knows it can tolerate the pain, its your psyche that its trying to protect. When you close your eyes and allow yourself to connect fully to the sensations provided by your body you will receive a message - through your minds eye you may see images, words may float up to you, you may notice you are able to hear or smell bits of memory you've long forgotten. Whatever you experience - it is the right thing. There is no way to do this wrong. If you're really listening to yourself you know what you need. You may have to promise yourself that you will do what your body is asking for. If you do this, if you make a promise to yourself, you must keep it. Going that deep into your psyche and asking for feedback then failing to follow through is tantamount to abuse. You deserve to keep promises you've made to yourself. You've chosen to ask for feedback, it's now your responsibility to make sure to follow through.*

As a therapist, I feel it is of heightened importance that we practice what we preach. Is is essential that we allow ourselves to experience authentic emotion. We must be able to stand through the storm of our own emotions if we are going to be able to help anyone. We need to able to stay, "I've stood through it too. I've experienced everything you're going through right now and can honestly tell you, it won't destroy you, it will make you stronger. All you have to do is feel it and respond however you feel is best. Let's talk about it."

*An amazing local therapist taught me the importance of this. Her name is Yudit Maros, and she has actually created an entire modality based on the importance of authenticity.

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