If Not Now, When?

Finding the Willingness to Be Seen

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I chose to become a psychotherapist out of gratitude. I'll never be able to fully express the appreciation I have for those who supported and inspired me in my darker days, but I like to think of my work as a daily attempt to return just a little bit of what I have been given. I think of writing in much the same way, an opportunity to give of myself and possibly to connect. But something has always prevented me from publishing.

I've cited the cause to be a lack of available time, but I think the real culprits are the usual suspects for me: relentless perfectionism and a very real fear of being pinned down to my current thought processes, and with that something of my freedom being taken away. So although I've talked about it for almost 10 years, I haven't done it. I told myself that I'd start writing once I was "really feeling it;" as soon as I had something smart enough, something important enough, something permanently true enough to say. And this kind of thinking kept me in a different kind of trap. When it comes to doing the things that are important to us, if not now, when?

If I am to practice what I preach, I need to be willing to be seen. To be liked and disliked, misunderstood, possibly labelled or judged. Here are just a few thoughts for those of us who need to get out of our own way:

- You can not step into the same river twice. We are in a constant state of change and evolution. Take that first step, however small today. Keep waiting for the right moment, and chances are, you are missing it entirely.

- Stop looking for permission. You are the author of your own life, you are the authority on your own happiness. It's time to move outside of your comfort zone and have a look around.

- Remember your past successes. They didn't happen overnight, and your commitment to them, whatever they may be, helped you step up and step out. If you have trouble thinking of the times that you've overcome challenges ask a friend or family member to help.

- Failure isn't to be feared. All of life is a learning experience. Whatever it is that you do, you gain information. Embrace even the unpalatable lessons to be had, after all knowledge is power.

- Remember the bigger picture. No one thing that we do, or single event that happens to us is the sum total of our story, even though it sometimes feels like it. Time moves and so do we. The moment is to be lived in, but not captured by.

Dr. Nicole Gehl

Dr Nicole Gehl is an existential-integrative psychotherapist and cognitive behavioural therapist. She is a senior accredited member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and is registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Her specialist work with Children and young people is recognized by the UKCP and BACP. She is an accredited mediator with the RSPP utilising a psychological approach in conflict situations. Dr Gehl grew up between Santa Barbara California and the island of Antigua. She has lived in the UK for over 10 years. During this time she has worked across a variety of clinical settings, including the Priory Hospitals in North London and Roehampton, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) the NHS, Thornford Park Medium Security Hospital, Westminster Drug Project, The London Child and Family Therapy Centre and the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth. Presently she provides psychotherapy, counseling and alternative dispute resolution at her St John’s Wood Office.


Go to the profile of Jan Dunbar
over 4 years ago
This is a beautiful article. You are so wise for your years--an "old soul". Thank you for reminding me of my courage. I need it!