"I'd done several sessions and had stopped having panic attacks. And then I just had another one today. Why do I keep doing this to myself?"
"I had worked on my rage and hadn't had another episode in so long. And then I just totally went overboard again this weekend. Why can't I get past this?"
"My mood had been up for the last 6 months and then recently it's down again. Why am I not able to manage this?"
Are these thoughts familiar?
When we've done work - whether counselling, using self-help books or another method - and see improvement we can feel very disheartened at a set back.
Because often we don't see it has a set back. We think,
"There it is again. That's right. I'm back where I started. I'm never going to change."
I'm here to let you know that set backs- or relapses- are a normal part of the change process. Yes, you are normal. You have been improving. And the set back you just had, if you think about it, is different from what it would have been had you not done the work. This time you were, for example:
- More aware of it while it was happening - the feeling, the body sensation, the thoughts
- You were able to have it happen for a shorter duration
- Afterwards, you clearly knew what had happened
- You had a moment where you thought about using a skill, even if you weren't able to use it
These small new experiences all add up to a big step forward in the change process.
It's sometimes going to feel like two steps forward, one step back. And that makes sense. There's a very good reason you've been doing what you've been doing. Yes, it's gotten you into trouble, but on some level it's protecting you. And so giving it up is going to be a process of small steps forward and some back.
You are not going to give up an old way of coping until a new way has become so comfortable for you that you can let go a bit more of the old way.
I welcome you into the counselling room to do some work together with me and live the way you want to.