In counselling, talking about problems often constitutes the main part of therapy. This is essential and valuable, allowing you to gain genuine awareness, insight and understanding of your inner world.
Talking allows you to express feelings openly that have may have been hidden for a long time. It allows you to connect with your internal voice and truthfully begin to answer the question ‘who am I?’ This can be an amazing and life-changing experience. Suddenly you see things from an entirely new perspective and this can feel empowering.
To effectively achieve deep lasting change, I would argue that talking needs to be accompanied by some kind of action. This probably means doing something differently. It might mean throwing out some of the old ways of coping and embracing a fresh approach.
Talking, with the absence of action may leave you feeling incredibly stuck and frustrated. I know this, I have done it often.
‘Why isn’t change happening?’; ‘Therapy isn’t working’; ‘I feel trapped.’
As an example, if you have an eating problem, you might talk about permitting yourself to have a previously forbidden food. You might think about going out to a restaurant with friends when you have historically avoided this. You might think about reducing your constant body checking and demonstrating acts of self-kindness.
You may cooperatively discuss implementing the changes with your therapist, considering this to be an excellent and valuable step in your progress. However, when you go home, you may really struggle to actually put these well-intended plans into action. Maybe you see only the tip of Everest peeping over the clouds? Understandably the path to the summit might appear so overwhelming that it is hard to take the first step forward.
3 steps to help you embrace action
1.Take baby steps
It is one hundred per cent acceptable for actions to be teeny-tiny. In fact it is preferable this way. Change can be daunting and scary. Confidence is often better sustainably built one small step at a time. It may take a while before you are able to look back and recognise your progress. It is helpful to embrace this notion before setting out on the road.
2. Embrace how you feel
Think about how you could potentially feel if you embraced a new way of being. If you are struggling to eat out with friends, think about why you want to be able to do this. Notice your energy shift when you consider being around people that bring you joy and support you. You might wish to socialise with them and enjoy camaraderie. You might wish to share interesting conversation. You might want to laugh and value the feeling of connecting with others. Worrying about eating a certain food and then avoiding the situation might leave you safer, but how does this actually impact on your wellbeing in the long term?
Noticing how you feel; trusting intuition and connecting with your deepest values can sometimes help you push forward into action.
3. Avoid contemplation, do it now
You will likely be on autopilot for the many habits you perform everyday from your first thoughts on waking to what you eat for breakfast. Some of these habits are helpful whilst others might be quite detrimental and keeping you stuck in obstructive patterns. Be prepared to consider that things could be done differently.
When embarking on making a little change, don’t worry about getting it right or doing it perfectly. Just be brave and take action without analysis. Whatever the outcome, this allows you to gather new information about yourself and the world, which will generate powerful ripples through your life. If nothing else, you will gain confidence and momentum in knowing that things don’t have to always be the same.
Think about the balance of talking and then taking action in regards to problems. Talking is valuable, but without being accompanied with action, it can keep you stuck. Embrace little steps of action and celebrate every tiny victory.
If you are really struggling to take action and feel perplexed by this, you may likely be experiencing some ambivalence about the change you consider. This often happens. Counselling can provide a safe space to explore this further.