Often when I'm working with clients, when they start to see the fruits of their labour, the changes they have been coming to therapy to make - this is an enjoyable time for the client and for me to see. It's at this point that some are unprepared, unprepared for life to jump up and bite them on their rear and remind them that actually, life is sometimes hard, stressful and confusing.
I chose this individual account 'When I'm Stressed' as I think it illustrates the difficulty and impact stress has on us as people. The aim of psychotherapy is to increase the individual's ability to make confident choices in their lives, to increase awareness and to be able to live in the here-and-now without being held back by the past. It's important to know though, that when you've managed to make these changes to your script , there are times when these changes will be tested, and that is under stress.
I've learnt that when I'm under stress, I go back about 6 years to where my awareness of what I feel is minimal and my thinking is confusing. When I'm stressed and feelings appear, they seem out of the blue and overwhelming; because I've been denying them.
When I'm stressed, the voice inside my head is critical and not at all supportive of what I do or what I achieve. The voice is so strong that it presents the words of others' entwined with disappointment, criticism, musts and shoulds.
When I'm stressed, all my energies are directed to functioning so that I become blinkered of others around me and my impact on them. I don't see this or feel it, instead I sense something unclear, a sense that I'm not OK, but I don't know why. I cling to looks, words and tones from others, and use my fantasy for answers; to think over and over, what it is I've done.
When I'm stressed I lose my ability to communicate my internal world, telling myself not to bother people, not to moan and not to get into an argument. I withdraw and snap, I withdraw but want to be close, if I'm close I will have to consider the other and use some of my energy to do this, so I look after me, I keep trying hard, I keep quiet, I don't feel and try to appear perfect.
When I'm stressed I fail; at everything I've spent time trying to change. When I'm not stressed I like to be with others, to feel; talking helps me and I can float on the love of others. I can take criticism and give myself permission to get things wrong; but not when I'm stressed, which scares me and so I defend myself against it in a cloud of red denial. I assure myself I'm in control but know really, my script is in control; I'm living old patterns...so now it's time to leave the walls of my mind and share this, as my next step in letting people in, to help; to hold me. Anon.
During stress, it uses less energy for us to revert back to old ways of being, old thought patterns may emerge and you may find yourself doing things that you've invested so much effort it stopping. I've decided to post this today to say - this is not a bad sign!
Sometimes you need to think about what is most important and where your energies need to be...so long as you're not harming yourself or others, is it so bad that you slip a little?
If you're in therapy at the time of your stress, then use this as an opportunity to work through it with the support of your therapist.