Feeling down in the dumps on any given day is something everyone will recognise.
We all wake up sometimes and think “uggggh”.
We all have a bad day from time to time.
Sometimes that bad day happens tomorrow too, and the next day, and the next day.
Now it’s a bad week.
I’ve been so busy recently that my house cleaning regime had fallen by the wayside.
Sometimes, something has to give.
As things got messier, they also got more overwhelming to face.
I decided that, no matter what, my bathroom floor was getting mopped.
Of course, I knew this wasn’t enough.
At the heart of therapy is change.
When people come for counselling, they are almost always seeking out some form of change.
They may want a change in their life circumstances. They may want to change their actions. Perhaps they are fine with both, and simply wish to change how they think about them.
The aliens had captured Sisko. They were more evolved creatures than us humans.
For instance, they experienced time differently to how we do.
They experienced it simultaneously. Past, present, future – to them, it was all one.
They decided to kill this lesser being, who moved through time in a linear fashion – one moment after another.
Sometimes, we need to have difficult conversations. Someone is doing something that we don’t like. We need to address it in the hope of making it right.
It’s not easy to do. They’re not called difficult conversations for nothing.
But there is a way of doing it that is more likely to result in getting your needs met without conflict.
It doesn’t matter how old you are. Your brain is 310 million years old.
That’s when lizards first appeared. Give or take 10 million years.
The brain of a lizard isn’t too complex.
It just keeps it alive. All its focus is on survival.
It keeps the lizard breathing. It gets it to seek out food.
When I begin talking with a new client, I am keen to find out what they want from therapy.
This is useful for two reasons.
It focuses our minds on how they’d like life to be.
It also tells us when the client is ready to stop coming. Without knowing what they want, we could keep meeting forever.
The Beatles were in the middle of recording what many regard as their finest album – The White Album.
It’s my favourite Beatles album. More than that, my favourite record full stop.
But Ringo Starr, their happy-go-lucky drummer, couldn’t take it any more.
Here’s something weird.
Give someone a normal milkshake, but tell them that it’s a diet drink, and their gut behaves as if the drink is low fat. Even though it’s full fat.
Here’s something even more weird.
A patient wakes up from knee surgery. The doctor say that they’ve done the operation. The knee gets better even though the doctor only made an incision in the skin.
Human beings love stories.
We have been telling them for millions of years.
In prehistoric times, sitting around a fire telling stories was our Netflix.
Stories allow us to learn from new experiences without having to go through them.
As they unfold, we ask ourselves what we would do to overcome this.
I remembered recently that, when I was a little boy, I asked for a typewriter as my Christmas present.
I was very young. I don’t think I’d hit the age of ten yet.
Looking back, it seems an unusual gift request from a small child.
But I always enjoyed writing.
When the handle on my living room door stopped working, it was very frustrating.
I’d try to turn it but it wouldn’t shift.
I was locked out of my own living room.
I called a handyman.
When he arrived I told him what was wrong. When I turn the handle, nothing happens.
There are different ways of talking about problems.
We can talk of ourselves as having a problem. We hear this a lot.
“Jean has a problem.” “Neil has a problem.” “Arnold has a lot of problems.”
Or we can talk of wrestling with a problem.
“I’m wrestling with this problem at the moment.”
When I go shopping, I always have a shopping list. Quaint, I know.
Yet I store it on my phone, which is arguably cooler. Possibly not.
People sometimes think I’m dawdling in the aisle texing a friend, and get cross.
But I’m not. I’m checking my shopping list. Which is valid during a shopping trip.
We have good days and bad days. Or at least bad days and less bad days.
I’m always curious about the times when things are a little better.
I want to discover what we did to make things a little better.
Sometimes, people tell me that they’ve been down all week, but feel better today.
If I aim too high, or have too ambitious a thought, a voice inside me often scoffs: “Ha! Who the hell are you to do that?”
The result is that I’m often guilty of not aiming high enough. I can rule myself out of things. Even though the facts tell me I’m more than able.
Every day we choose to do things.
Even when it seems like we have to do them, we usually choose to. We are selecting this activity over that consequence.
We choose many other activities freely, just because we want to do them.
From time to time, situations arise that result in us feeling agitated and cross.
I was sat opposite the therapist. I started to tell him my stuff.
Ten seconds in, I noticed his eyes harden. It was subtle, but it was there.
He looked disinterested. I spotted a flash of contempt.
I paused and stuttered. I had to look away just to carry on. I didn’t much want to carry on at all.
There are times when we can’t make our minds up. Faced with a tough decision, we are torn by the options available.
Should I do this? Or should I do that?
We spend hours spinning round the options and getting nowhere.
We hear competing voices and arguments. It’s like we have several people inside us, jabbering away. It can feel like we are going crazy.