If you can name it, you can tame it

In this blog Fe reflects on the importance of acknowledging and giving voice to the patterns in your experience if you want to make change happen.

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In this second blog exploring themes from Karen Atkinson’s book about Compassionate Mindful Inquiry, I wanted to reflect for a moment or two on the importance of giving voice to the patterns we notice within our experience.

We all have habitual ways of being, and thank goodness for that.  Imagine if you had to start from nothing in each moment, retaining no information about what has happened in the past or the contexts in which you are functioning. That would be over-whelming indeed!

The thing is with habits, that they become unconscious and we stop noticing them.  This happens with all kinds of habits.  Do you know exactly how you wash yourself in the shower?  Do you have to think about it each time?  Probably not, its outside awareness, just something you do.

Thought patterns can be like this too.  And feelings.  Habitual ways of responding, thinking, feeling, acting...they are part of our make up.  And as long as they serve us, that’s great.

When things are happening that do not work for you, it’s time to get curious and shine a light on what’s going on. As you come to notice the repeating patterns in your experience, you can name them.  You might say ‘ah ha...I see you black and white thinking’ or ‘that’s a catastrophic thought, I’m thinking of the worst case again.’  when you name the pattern, it loses its power.  It becomes less about the specific content of what you just said, and more about the pattern of thinking that underlies it.  If you have a tendency to catastrophise generally, you then know that these worst case scenarios are just what your mind habitually does, rather than something to buy into and worry about.

So, if you can name it, you can tame it!  Give it a try, and let me know how you get on.

Fe Robinson, Psychotherapist

Hi. I'm Fe, and I'm here to help you thrive, whatever life brings. I believe every client is unique, I work with you to help you explore, discover and grow in whatever ways are right for you. I work with a wide range of clients, both long and short term. I offer Psychotherapy, EMDR therapy and Couples Counselling to UK clients online and in Gainford, Co.Durham in North-East England. I am UKCP Accredited and an EMDR Europe Practitioner, and offer Clinical Supervision to counsellors and psychotherapists online and in person. Following a career in Organisation Development I became a therapist because it's my heart work. Before having my family and starting my private practice I worked in the NHS and mental health charities.