Feelings can be powerful things. As children, we find them overwhelming, and we need the adults who care for us to contain them for us until when we grow we can learn from their example and manage our feelings for ourselves. Developmental theories suggest we would expect children to need help with big feelings for many years, and certainly beyond becoming school age.
When we have not been attuned to and helped with big feelings as a child, we might learn that it is somehow not OK to feel and that we should suppress and avoid emotions. We learn to put them to one side and carry on as if they were not there. We ignore our feelings about what we want and need and put our energy into looking after those around us.
The trouble is, the feelings were there, and when we don’t address them they get stored up in our body, they are still within us. They can build up and build up, and each time we put our feelings to one side in favour of someone else we deplete ourselves and perhaps become angry and resentful. We may feel hurt that others don’t know what we need, even though we haven’t explicitly expressed it.
Learning to become sensitive to what we feel once again is a crucial step in turning around the way we feel. Tuning into your body and emotions and noticing what is there can give you a choice about how you respond. You can learn to put your own needs and wants alongside those of the people you care about, meaning you can look after yourself well enough to have plenty of energy to give to your loved ones too. You can learn to attune to yourself and help yourself with the big feelings which will inevitably come from time to time.
Counselling is about helping you witness what is happening for you, and finding ways to identify, own, and meet your own needs. Counselling can help you work out what you want, and find the self-confidence to feel OK about asking for it and giving it to yourself. A counsellor can help you find a sustainable way of living that attends both to you and those you love. If you want life to feel you are not surviving but thriving, perhaps its time to reach out and get some support.