People are often curious as to why I chose to work within this field. My answer to them is that there are a lot of different reasons as to why this area holds interest to me.
During my school years I was often fascinated and caught up in; observations of communication styles, group dynamics, non-verbal communication. Through this, I found that, I constantly felt it important, to question and observe in order to form a deeper meaning and understanding of individuals points of view.
During my adolescent years I remember a constant feeling that I didn’t quite ‘fit the mould’ or ‘belong.’ Like many others, I experienced bullying and felt that it was important to protect myself by becoming quite withdrawn and found that it was difficult not to get caught up in my ‘inner critic self’ messaging around, not being good enough, worthy and therefore afraid to put my ‘real self’ out there. It felt safer to stay small.
I didn’t have the best grades in school as I felt that it was pointless to apply myself or invest too much into my studies incase I ‘failed’- again that inner critic would pipe up and say things like ‘why bother trying… you will likely fail so what is the point anyway.’
Despite this there was a drive that felt stronger than this inner critic, that inspired me to try to understand what the meaning of all this was, and instead of engaging in compensatory behaviours in order to make sense of my experiences, I decided to apply myself to understanding theories of the mind, society and what influences create our realities.
And so it began…
After completing my counselling qualification I decided that I wanted to get some more ‘life experience’ before I start to work in the field. By this time I had had relationship experiences, travelled a little, and had started to piece together an understanding of myself, and what I truly wanted out of life. I decided to apply for an audition to become a High School Dance Teacher – which was my continuing hope and dream of mine. I had a date for audition and more confidence and belief in myself than I previously had. Then, as life often does, a spanner was thrown in the works – I was struck my Epstein-Barr virus (Glandular Fever) which progressed into Chronic Fatigue* for about 18months. Did I mention that I wanted some ‘life experience.’?
This was one of the hardest times that I experienced in my life. I couldn’t dance, I couldn’t do the things I loved. It felt as a dark grey heavy cloud was constantly looming over me. In hindsight (as it is such a wonderful thing), this was also a blessing for me.
There were lots of different things that I tried in order to get my health back on track. I noticed some of my old unhelpful compensatory behaviors sneaking back in, but these were eventually over run by some new aspects that were more of benefit then detriment. Through yoga, continuing study and a need for deeper understanding and meaning in my life, I began to learn to show compassion and acceptance towards myself.
After doing some ‘Google Searching’ around what others found helpful I stumbled across a really helpful perspective –
‘Image your body it like the battery in your phone, if you use it a lot to talk, search online, send messages, email and use social media, then the battery will drain quite quickly. At the end of the day you will need to plug it in the recharge the battery.’
The meaning that this held for me was that, if we are constantly involved in activity, doing things for others, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted about the things on our ‘To Do’ lists or how far we need to be in life in order to be deemed “successful”, then we are constantly emptying the battery. We are not taking care of ourselves. We are not plugging in to the things that help us to feel nourished and energized. We are showing a lack of empathy and compassion towards ourselves. I finally realized the importance of ‘putting yourself first’ (which I think is certainly more difficult to put into action than we imagine).
From this point I continued along the way to understand myself and my experiences through studying yoga, learning more about the differences between self-esteem and self-compassion and connecting in with the aspects of my life that bring me joy and happiness.
I believe that this is a continuous quest, in that we all have experiences of life’s obstacles. I feel that it comes down to our personal decisions of how we would like to face those obstacles and the ability to be able to reach-out for help and support along the way. It is vital to continue to stay connected with the what our inner-selves wants out of life and to learn more about the ways in which we can support ourselves to align our Body-Mind to achieve and maintain this.
* One of the ways in which I describe Chronic Fatigue to people when they ask is that it feels similar to the symptoms of influenza; joint and muscle aches, weakness and an overwhelming sense of constantly needing sleep.