“Why do I need to talk about my past/childhood? There isn't anything I can do about it now.” I often hear this question and have wondered it at times during my own therapy. We want proof ahead of time that this process will be helpful, especially when vulnerability and pain is involved. Stepping into our story and embracing our past can be painful. So, why in the world would we do that? Why is it so healing? When clients take the brave step of beginning a therapeutic relationship, they are usually experiencing some type of pain. The source of this pain is often relationships, whether it be how they feel and think about themselves or pain they are experiencing in relationships. Our earliest relationships (parents) influence what we believe and how we feel about ourselves more than anything else.
We are totally dependent on our primary caregivers in order to meet our most basic needs in order to survive. When these are met in a consistent way from our caregivers, we begin to learn we are loved and that we matter. If we don’t get our needs met in a consistent or “good enough” way, we learn that we don’t matter and begin to adjust ourselves to get the love and care we need.
In his podcast,The Place We Find Ourselves, Adam Young states the “Big 6” that every child needs from their caregivers(thankfully, only 50% of the time), are:
ability to help child emotionally regulate
parent’s ability to handle their own negative emotions, and
a willingness to repair
Because our brains are growing and changing the most rapidly in these formative years, our relationship with our primary caregivers and our earliest life experiences have much more impact on how we think about ourselves than experiences later in life. Therefore, the way we think of ourselves (and interpret our present experiences) is automatically filtered through past experiences.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 is impacting every single one of us right now. What are the familiar messages that are coming up for you in this uncertain time? Do you find yourself getting angry towards yourself for "letting it impact you so much" or are you minimizing your pain by saying "other people have it worse than I do right now?"
Pause and notice what is coming up for you. Fear, anxiety, and loneliness can lead to guilt or shame for having these feelings appear, which can sometimes be more distressing than the original emotion. In this unique time we are all experiencing old messages or beliefs we’ve been carrying since childhood. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and alone, this probably isn’t the first time that you’ve felt that way. Maybe your default posture towards yourself when you feel alone and overwhelmed is to “soldier on,” “pull it together,” and “just get it done” all by yourself because you’re the only person that you can rely on. The positive thing about a trigger, like COVID-19, is it offers an opportunity for old pain to be brought to the surface so it can be tended to and healed.
Counseling provides a safe space to create new experiences that can change the way we think about ourselves. This is impossible by thinking harder or just thinking differently. Change is possible through sharing the significant experiences of your life in the presence of another attuned person (yes, even virtually!). By developing a secure relationship with a trusted therapist, clients are able to deconstruct old narratives and rebuild a truer understanding of themselves, God, and others in the present.
If you are feeling alone or stuck in your pain and want to experience more fullness in your life, Come Alive Counseling would be honored to walk alongside you on this journey.
You can read more about Come Alive Counseling's therapists on our website at www.comealivecounseling.com
In Amy’s free time, you can find her practicing hot yoga, planning her next trip to the Colorado mountains, or untangling her fishing line in a shallow Tennessee stream. Amy loves engaging in rich conversation while enjoying good food with her friends, family, and husband. And when the weather gets cold, you’ll find her cozied up with a heated blanket and favorite candle, reading Harry Potter (again).