September Blues — it’s the end of the holidays. Fear of change sets in, fear of losing ourselves once more in the everyday routine. What can we do about it?
The sunny days are shrinking, becoming colder at each end. We’ve been running around town trying to find school shoes and textbooks. The holiday photos have been developed and are lying around in untidy piles waiting to be put into albums. The sense of timelessness that I felt in the summer is drawing in. I can feel the darkness and the cold approaching.
There is something about routine that both frightens and comforts. I have found myself starting with a lot of new clients recently. There seems to be a sense that while in summer life takes care of itself somehow, now we have to take ourselves in hand. I find myself stressing with them the importance of commitment and regularity in counselling, rather than only coming when you feel like it, or when you feel that you can’t cope anymore. This is honestly my experience, not only my belief, and yet I feel happiest and most alive when being spontaneous. If I were them, if I didn’t feel like sitting and talking about myself one week, I’d like to go swimming instead.
How to keep the limitlessness and timelessness of the holidays once back at work, at school? How to keep the physical ease the warm weather creates in us when it gets freezing and we tense up against the wind to protect ourselves? How to be spontaneous when our time, it seems, has to be tightly controlled and organised, in order to earn a living, to look after ourselves and others? How to still feel that we are alive, growing, developing, when we have to set the alarm and go off to school or work regardless of how we feel or what else we could be doing with the time?
The guidelines and boundaries that come with counselling are there to keep us safe and secure, and when we feel basically safe and secure we can take more emotional risks. We can stop guarding ourselves when the rules do it for us. That frees up a lot of energy.
The boundaries of life itself, the unstoppable changing of the seasons for example, the stages of life, and eventually death, can be a source of stress if we choose to fight against them. But if, for fleeting moments, we can stand in the doorway, feel the new chill in the air, and feel the fear of change without saying “don’t be stupid” and without saying “oh this is it now, I’m going to be depressed for the next six months”, then we have exercised our freedom.
In dropping our reaction, and the whole storyline that goes along with it (“that’s just the kind of person I am”, and all our reasons for that and all the comparisons with others), in just being right there and feeling it, we have already beaten the fear. We are bigger than it, our awareness encompasses it. As Carl Rogers might have said, we let our self concept (the person we have strived to become in order to gain acceptance, to fit in, to survive) slip, loosen, and out comes our our basic, organismic self, always spontaneous, and therefore timeless, always growing in the direction of the light.
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