Getting a Distance

As the counselling room is a safe place for all those fears and emotions, including the not so pretty ones, to be, so eventually we learn that we ourselves are a safe place for them to be. We eventually, slowly, gain some experience in being separate from uncomfortable feelings, in being, in fact, bigger than they are.

Some people have the idea that therapy is all about diving headfirst into feelings and problems. Going right inside to investigate, week after week, concentrating hard on what is the most difficult or painful. Hence people fear that they may get lost, or consider that therapy is somehow self-indulgent, a way of getting stuck in the limited and painful version of reality we call our own.

For me, therapy or counselling are also about realising that those strong difficult feelings and intractable problems that we arrive with are in us, but they are not us. We may be extraordinarily angry, for example, but even when a big wave of it seems to sweep out everything else, we are still more than that anger. We are the place it is sweeping through, and that is a place with many other features, possibilities.

Meditation can help us keep this sense of being different from our problems, and so can therapy. As the counselling room is a safe place for all those fears and emotions, including the not so pretty ones, to be, so eventually we learn that we ourselves are a safe place for them to be. We eventually, slowly, gain some experience in being separate from uncomfortable feelings, in being, in fact, bigger than they are. We learn that we don’t get destroyed by them unless we hang on absurdly tight, exhaust ourselves fighting, or keep it all in airless seclusion. We can be there, and they can be there. There is a distance, in which we can feel safe, in which we can breathe.

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