This will sound a little strange. I often have my best ideas about new posts and podcasts in the middle of the night when it wakes me up and I do my best to remember the detail in the morning. So it was with the 7 Day Challenge that was really a response to a number of clients feeling “stuck” and a conversation with a regular commenter. He suggested that a point must come in therapy where the therapist encourages a “call for action”, otherwise therapy is just talk. I fully agree. The idea then developed in my mind to make a podcast and write a blog post every day for a week in order to help anyone, anywhere make a change in their life. However, I was not fully prepared for the response I would get in terms of feedback and a number of insights have come up from the week-long exercise.
The first thing I realized was that many people are stuck in their lives. I was thinking initially of a few of my clients but it seems that this is an issue generally. People are stuck in their jobs, relationships, themselves and life generally. they are “treading water”, “spinning their wheels” and getting nowhere. This is all mostly consolidated with rumination and an unhealthy feeling that they are not in control of the final outcome. Many appeared to be stuck in the idea that moving forward, making decisions was beyond them. This idea was best summed up in this comment:
“Thank you for the 7 Day Challenge. However, I already know that I will not take action. I can’t.”
My reply was… why can’t you? A valid question in this case. As with many others, this commenter appears happy to relinquish control to the doubting voices in her head. By doing so, she neglects to look at the influence she, herself can have. Much of this indecision was due to polarised thinking which leaves anyone who employs this in a dilemma. Polarised thinking characterises two protective (yet dysfunctional) voices battling for supremacy in your mind. While they have the same aim, that is to protect from the pain and trauma felt in early years and childhood, their methods are extreme. Severe control and guilt making statements or an attitude of escapism, instant gratification or addiction on the other side. These voices, known as parts attempt to rule our lives. For example:
When we experience an internal conflict, it is easy to identify the opposing parts. For example, one part of (that loves to learn) may want to take a university course while another part of (a Banker part) takes an opposing position, arguing strongly and rationally that it is too expensive while yet another part (the Critic) may point out that you are not smart enough and will probably fail. In this internal free-for-all, someone will inevitably feel torn and indecisive. Even if a decision is made, the internal critic part may launch an attack to make sure that feelings of guilt, stupidity, awkwardness or selfishness arise. Then, noticing this downward spiral, another part may flood the mind with feelings of sadness and hopeless because, according to it, nothing ever happens or changes and probably never will. This is an example of any number of patterns that may keep someone stuck and do not allow an expansion or exploration of life. According to the theory of Internal Family Systems Therapy, the following is also valid:
“At the centre of this diverse collection of Parts is the Self, which we may experience as a ‘core self’ or ‘true self’. The Self, has two factors. “The first factor (Self Qualities) contains items relating to the experience of being “in Self”, i.e. feeling calm, balanced, worthy, connected, confident, joyful, peaceful, etc.. The second factor (Self-Leadership) contains items relating to the ability to bring oneself back to balance when one has been hurt or stressed, i.e., the ability to resolve inner conflicts, to stay calm under pressure, to self-sooth, etc. The amount of ‘Self-energy’ present can be noticed by the presence of those Self qualities.”
So, it was an interesting week and one where I had the chance to interact with many people. This has added to my knowledge and awareness of why people feel they cannot move forward.