Recently I picked up a children’s story book published in 1948 and was reading some of the stories for children around the age of 9-10. I noticed how much longer and more detailed the stories were then and reflected on how nowadays books for children tend to be shorter and snappier with lots of illustrations along the way. Then things were taken at a slower pace and there was less of a need to get to the end or attain a finish than there is now. Our current world has many wonderful achievements, use of internet being one of them, which allows us quick and easy access to a hugely wide wealth of information. But there is an ever increasing trend to get what we want fast and with minimal effort; how many of us will read the headline or first paragraph of an online news item or Facebook posting before going on to the next thing?
This comes into the therapy room as well, people come in distressed and unhappy and reasonably want to feel better – who wouldn’t? It is hard to bear pain, sometimes incredibly intense painful experiences and the need for relief is real and understandable. However, at times there seems to be a pressure for solutions or ways to ‘manage’ feelings, to be able to feel positive out of a belief that this is – or should be – the norm. And the reality is different, at times life in naturally painful – how can there be gain if there is no loss? – and part of therapy is to stay in the process and to be in the ‘story’ without having to get to the happy ending so fast.
So in therapy I find myself often in the delicate dance of looking at ways to relieve pain (and that may at times include strategies) and at the same time looking at ways to check in with ourselves, to notice ourselves and gain a richer sense of ourselves. It is these two equally important elements that ultimately seems to help people find their way in their lives.