I was reminiscing this week with an old friend about the world before the internet. It’s a relatively recent invention and yet it is almost hard to remember what we did before instant information about anything we wanted to know was available.
My remembrance was not all rose-tinted, I think it quite wonderful to be able to access knowledge and ideas at the click of a button. At the same time, I do wonder about the impact of this on our lives and relationships, and in particular on our ability to tolerate not having and not knowing. When these days do we need to tolerate uncertainty and not knowing?
It is increasingly common for clients to come into psychotherapy looking for ‘the answer.’ Across a range of discomforts: anxiety, depression, the sadness of loss, habit changes and relationship difficulties, the perception can be that I as a therapist will somehow be able to fix it and make it feel OK. It is not often welcome news for clients to know that there is no quick fix, no magic wand, and that psychotherapy is not going to solve things here and now, once and for all.
Psychotherapy opens up a process of bringing clients into contact with themselves and the way they experience the world. It opens us up to feeling ourselves, to being embodied, and to knowing what it is we need to be well and balanced. It can open us up to uncomfortable truths, sensations and feelings, parts of our experience that we then learn how to bear, and be with, without judgement.
Once we have had the space to express, explore, understand and empathise with our own experience, then we can begin to figure out how we can best support ourselves ongoing. How we can deepen and widen our relationship with our own parts, our emotions, our thinking, and our bodies.
What we each need changes with time. There is no one magic formula. The magic is learning to listen, and to respond. To nurturing yourself. To being with and holding your vulnerabilities. To listening to your own wisdom. This is a lifelong process, day in, day out.
Self-care is a trendy term, and perhaps easy to dismiss as frivolous or indulgent. Self-relations and sponsorship are terms I find more meaningful. How can you relate meaningfully to all of yourself? How can you sponsor those parts that struggle to be heard? How can you love that within you that you find challenging to bear?
If you feel called to psychotherapy, these are questions you may be encouraged to explore. Psychotherapy is best framed as a stimulus to an ongoing process, a fulcrum for deepened self-relating, and the beginning of a life-long friendship with yourself.