As I glanced at the daffodils I had bought four days earlier I was disappointed to find they had not managed to come to full bloom. Some of them had tried to come out and died round the edges, others had curled up and most disappointingly many had not come out at all. As I thought about this I recognised two things. 1. I brought the daffodils in January when they are spring flowers. 2. I was expecting them to bloom 'normally' when they clearly were just not ready!
In today's society we have a culture of 'I want it now' and waiting is seen as an inconvenience rather than a growing opportunity or a chance to enjoy some delayed gratification. I too am guilty of this (I brought the daffodils in January remember!). As a counsellor I began to relate this to my work and I found a number of similarities between counselling and the forced flowers. I have worked with many different people and I always have hope that they can make changes, however for me as the helper the most important thing to recognise is that the person has to be ready and willing to make these changes. I could be the most amazing therapist with award winning success but if I have a client who is not ready then no beneficial work will be achieved despite my hardest efforts.
We as individuals are the only ones who can chose to make changes for ourselves. Taking responsibility is the first step to moving forward into a better place. Often others are the first to comment on our issues or distress and we can become defensive and tell them 'we are fine' and to 'back off', but deep down inside you can recognise what they are seeing. Although it can feel scary once you are able to take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours this is when the work can begin!
People have to be in a place where to remain where they are has become too uncomfortable. Once a person has become aware of their emotional pain and is able to acknowledge that there is a 'problem' it is rather difficult to be content with it. This is often when our very best defence mechanisms no longer seem to work in the same way. For example; the addict who can no longer deny how many consequences there are to their drinking, or a person has become increasingly anxious and what once worked to ease this has started to fail. Some people come to counselling and don't know why or what they are feeling but what they do know is that something feels uncomfortable and painful and they are now ready to find out what that might be and how to be released from it.
Like the daffodils people have to be ready to bloom and blossom into who they really are. I can help people with that process but I certainly cannot force it! Only we can open ourselves up, no one else can do it for us.
It takes true courage to come into counselling and take responsibility for our mental health and wellbeing, but I do know this; if you are truly ready and willing to be honest with yourself and your counsellor then the process to freedom can truly begin.