BREAK FREE FROM YOUR CHAINS

“It’s never too late to be­come what you might have been”, wrote Ge­orge Eliot. Coun­sel­lor Amanda Jayne shows how to make it hap­pen.

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With coun­sel­lor Amanda Jayne

Ire­cently came across a pho­to­graph of a horse stand­ing, head down, look­ing thor­oughly fed up. He was teth­ered by a thin rope to a plas­tic chair. The chair was a light­weight plas­tic chair and it was not at­tached to any­thing at all. How­ever, the horse thought he could not move. He thought he was stuck and so he did not even try to walk away. The say­ing un­der­neath was “Some­times the chains that pre­vent us from be­ing free are more men­tal than phys­i­cal”.

That same week, the pic­ture kept com­ing back to me as clients de­scribed how stuck they felt in their lives. Some were “stuck” in the same job. One felt that he could not find an­other job be­cause he had been there since he had left school. One was “stuck” in her job be­cause she had been off sick with stress and anx­i­ety and she feared her sick­ness record would pre­vent her even get­ting an in­ter­view. One was stuck be­cause he felt he was not clever enough to do any­thing other than me­nial labour work (this was partly the re­spon­si­bil­ity of an in­ept teacher who told him he shouldn’t ex­pect to do any more than man­ual labour as he didn’t have the brains).

Oth­ers have felt stuck in re­la­tion­ships (be­cause of chil­dren/ money/fam­ily), and many have felt they are stuck in their lone­li­ness, un­able to change any­thing due to be­ing shy or iso­lated.

The thing is, we all feel stuck at times. We tend to think the same old thoughts or be­lieve the same things about us which we have been told by oth­ers. We get used to the same ideas, ex­pec­ta­tions and dreams and we rarely chal­lenge them.

What we all need to do is to stop to think again. What­ever you are do­ing now is due to an idea or dream you had at some point. At that point in your life, per­haps the job/re­la­tion­ship/dream/idea and things you liked and didn’t like suited your cir­cum­stances and your per­son­al­ity and ex­pec­ta­tions at that time. But does it suit you now? Or have you and your life changed?

The client who thought he couldn’t do any­thing else had a whole host of trans­ferrable skills. The only thing stop­ping him was his lack of con­fi­dence, and the re­al­i­sa­tion that he had all these skills pro­pelled him into an­other, more ful­fill­ing role.

The client who was wor­ried about her sick­ness record made a longer term plan, be­gan to build her CV and re­search other roles while she re­turned to work. She fi­nally started her own busi­ness and the sick­ness record did not mat­ter!

The third client dis­cov­ered that the teacher was wrong and he was, in fact, an ar­tic­u­late, in­tel­li­gent and highly em­ploy­able man­ager!

Lots of clients in “stuck” re­la­tion­ships have moved on through the pain of sep­a­ra­tion to find hap­pier re­la­tion­ships and have never looked back.

Had that horse tried to walk away, in­stead of ac­cept­ing that he had no choice, he would have dis­cov­ered that he was free to go.

Some­times we just need to re-eval­u­ate our cir­cum­stances and chal­lenge old judge­ments about our­selves and our abil­i­ties, strengths, weak­nesses, likes and dislikes. Then we can up­date them and know where we need to be head­ing, even if it is scary. We need to ad­just to how we are now so that we can keep mov­ing for­ward.

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