Reflections on exploring your thoughts

I wrote in Counselling Directory recently about the importance of having support when choosing to break cycles in our lives. But what happens before that? If we consider the trailblazing part of our lives to be the first book or movie in our own ‘hero’s journey’, how about the prequel? 

Communities and their rituals 

You likely have a community around you in some capacity. Family, friends, co-workers. These communities will have rituals which you, by nature of being a member of said community will be part of. Your community might be based around your faith, or your favourite sport, or sports team. Perhaps it’s Dungeons and Dragons, or a book club, or you just have a very close-knit family. 

Not all community rituals are wholesome. Here in the UK, we have a thriving drinking culture, and this could be how you socialise with friends and colleagues or clients. To celebrate, or to commiserate. To generally get through a day in the capitalist rat race. I worked in the City for many years before moving fully into a therapeutic career and to survive an often toxic environment pre-COVID I was what I now refer to as an ‘occupational alcoholic’. 

Noticing our questions 

Our communities can support and sustain us. Equally, they can make us feel trapped. We might have questions and curiosity about doing other things, meeting different people. Exploring the unfamiliar. In these times, the rituals can start to feel suffocating and in-congruent to our personal values. We can feel alone in a crowd we previously felt that we fit into. It’s here where we might start to give ourselves a hard time for our questions and thoughts.  

“What’s wrong with me?”  

“Why can’t I just be normal?” 

Accepting our curiosity 

Voicing our curiosities may be difficult, for fear of judgement from our communities. In this case, it’s helpful to understand curiosity as natural and neither good nor bad. Accepting it and being open to exploring it is a self-compassionate approach, which is likely to have a better outcome than squashing our questions down. 

Safe places to explore 

Journalling these new questions and feelings can make a tangible difference to many. This can assist in organising and refining our thoughts and deciding what we might investigate further. There is no obligation to share these with your community, especially if you are concerned what the initial reaction may be. It's worth remembering that you are not your thoughts, but your thoughts are valid. And they may be the first shoots of outgrowing a community, or a ritual which no longer serves or resonates. 

(If the idea of journalling with a pen and pad is too analogue for you, many people use notes apps or voice recordings. Do what works for you. And if journalling really isn’t your vibe, then consider exploring life’s questions with something that is. Perhaps art, or music.)

Counselling can create a regular objective space for consideration. Some people are afraid of the unfiltered thoughts in their journal being found and that’s fair enough. One benefit of a private therapy space is its confidentiality negates this risk. 

If you’re curious about how psychotherapeutic counselling and/or journalling can help you, then why not get in touch today for a free initial call. 

© Ellie Rowland-Callanan

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