I recently attended a fantastic course on object relation theory and transference presented by Helen Rowland. Aside from the practical teaching, casework examples and supervision, the group held some really interesting discussions around whether people really ever do ‘get fixed’!
The group consisted of a wide range of professionals- some who had just completed training and some with decades of senior position experience. Interestingly enough the unanimous response was: No, we as humans never get fixed! You might be wondering then why anyone might want to enter into counselling!!
Well, the first important thing to consider is that we’re not actually broken. We are not faulty parts of a machine which needs putting back together properly. We are all completely unique and have experienced different things in life- both the beautiful and the challenging. For someone besieged by painful intrusive thoughts, a heavy depression, crippling OCD or distressing PTSD symptoms, it might be easy to assume that it is the people “out there” who are “normal” (whatever the heck that word means!!). In therapy we would look at this in the way that your current behaviour is the way your body found to cope with the stress it experienced. Your anxiety for example, served a purpose. It made you sharp and aware. Maybe it saved your life at one point, but now isn’t so helpful in the day to day.
Our life scripts begin early on and get regularly updated and revised as we move through life. Many times in therapy I hear things like: I’m just like this. And yet rarely (if ever) do I hear people say: I’m just like this and I accept myself as I am. The resistance from not being at peace with yourself creates and reinforces the inner psychological pain – feeling a need to constantly push ‘it’ away so you can be ‘normal’ (I hope we’re starting to all hate that word by now!!) is actually unhelpful and counter-productive.
So, as the group of therapists sat in the room agreeing that ultimately people can’t be ‘fixed,’ now I respect and understand that even more deeply. We might be cut to the core by our pasts but we are not broken – even if we feel like it. We are survivors, maybe tired and weary, but still powerful, strong and courageous. It’s true, we can learn to change our behaviours and adapt with a greater sense of perception- we can also widen our field of awareness and teach ourselves to sit with the feelings, but we can’t magic the bad times away. Over time we can learn to embrace our emotions (both the good AND bad) from a place of authenticity, wisdom and truth.
We are who we are and we are good enough as we are- perfectly imperfect.