“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself. “ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
My mind has always worried. What if I’m late? What if I forget something? What if this person doesn’t like me? What if I can’t do my job? What if I make a mistake and look stupid? What if they find out I’m actually just NOT GOOD ENOUGH?!
This tendency to think the worst has been with me since childhood, and I used to hate it. It nagged at the back of my mind the whole time, undermining my confidence, limiting my sense of what I could and couldn’t do. Some of my earliest attempts to control it involved obsessive compulsive strategies, which helped in the short term but only made the worrying worse over time.
As I got older I found that sometimes I was able to overcome my anxiety, but at other times it took centre stage. I tried lots of things to get rid of it – counselling, meditation, fitness – but although these activities helped in many ways, the worrying never disappeared completely. In my thirties I started to experience anxiety attacks, and that’s when I realised I needed a different approach.
When I discovered ACT it was like diving into cool, clear water and emerging into a completely new perspective. All my life I had been fighting a part of myself – the concept of forming a relationship with it had never occurred to me. Yet it fitted so much better with my life philosophy, as well as making scientific sense.
So I dropped the struggle with my anxiety. I turned towards it. I let it sit next to me. I listened to it. I felt it. And you know what? It was OK. I didn’t die. My heart didn’t explode. I kept breathing. And the more I got to know my anxiety, the more kindly I felt towards this part of myself. We came to an arrangement – when this part shows up, I say hello and I make room for it. I call her my ‘needy friend’, and I treat her endless stream of advice, warnings and worries with affectionate acceptance. I know that she’s trying to keep me safe, and that she only worries because she cares deeply. I acknowledge, and even admire those qualities, and then I get on with doing whatever I need to do.
This is what ACT did for me, and as a qualified and experienced therapist this is what I want to offer to others. It’s a powerful reframe that harnesses our vulnerability and helps us integrate it into our lives, so that we can free ourselves from our minds and move towards what matters to us most.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing : the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor E Frankl, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’
MA Counselling and Psychotherapy in Practice (ongoing)
Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling (2015)
Certificate in Counselling
Certificate in Focusing
ACT and Anxiety, ACT as a Brief Intervention (FACT)
BA Hons English Lit