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  • julienaylorcounsel

When old patterns re-emerge. Yes, even for therapists.....

Last weekend, I sat down to experiment (have a play) with watercolour paints.  Although I’d never describe myself as ‘an artist’, I have always enjoyed creative expression (music, drawing, performance, poetry etc).  I felt super excited as I unloaded the paints, paper, water spray bottle and brushes.


And then, it hit me.  A feeling right in the pit of my stomach.  It was a sort of coiling; a tightening, something ‘pulling in.’  Noticing, I sat with it, letting it permeate through me.  I wanted to know this sensation, to let it expand and express.  ‘Show me what you are’, I whispered, silently.


There it was.  That fearful, nervous edge that (if it could speak) would say, “Oooooohhhhhh, but you might not be any good at this.”  “What if you get it wrong?”  “You might be a terrible water colour painter.”  “You probably won’t be able to do it – you were never any good at art at school.”


As a reflective, introspective person, I have spent (spend) a lot of time getting to know myself, shining a light on the darker parts that sit in the shadows. It’s important for me to do this.  Fundamental to my work as a therapist, actually and my life outside of the therapy room.  And yet, here it is, this ‘not enough’ feeling, taking me by surprise on a rainy Saturday morning.


Why am I sharing this?  Well, in my experiencing, there can be a notion (particularly in the ‘wellness’ sphere) that when we ‘work on ourselves’, dig deep, unravel the traumas etc, we will emerge as ‘completely healed people’.  Such people are totally okay in the world.  Nothing bothers them.  They’ve ‘dealt with their stuff’ and never experience anything but bliss for the rest of their lives.  There is no residue of any old, conditioned patterns in their lives – that stuff has long passed, never to be felt again.  Especially therapists – they’re totally ‘sorted’ all the time.

I’m writing this to demonstrate our shared humanity.  Patterns, learned behaviours, ways of being, evolve with us, peppering our lives at different times (irrespective of ‘how much work’ we do/have done on ourselves.)  This is very typical, very ‘normal’ (whatever that is). How we react and respond to the above is fundamental here. 

Did I berate myself and decide not to paint?  No way.  Did I succumb to the sensation of not being enough, somehow?  Absolutely not.  Did I recognise the feeling, the voice in my head for what it was – an old, conditioned pattern that re-surfaced momentarily and took up residence?  Yes……. and I’m smiling as I type this.  The level of awareness I brought in the moment supported and empowered me in a pretty beautiful process of unfolding.


If you are reading this, wondering why ‘this thing that you thought you were over has come up again’, then you are in good company.  Things re-surface for all of us, from time to time.  Deep patterns and ways of being can feel as though they are etched into our very bones, sometimes.  We can acknowledge them, notice them for what they are.  We can make choices, move in different ways; ways that aren’t conditioned by an old story we once told ourselves (that probably wasn’t anything to do with us in the first place).


Feeling sensations, recognising thoughts, patterns and ways of being does not mean there is ‘something wrong with you’.  Quite the contrary, awareness of what is, without judgement, is an incredible act of self-love, a prizing of oneself, enabling access into the deepest realms of being.  It’s a gift we can offer ourselves time and time again. 


Patterns can stick around, but we don’t have to stick with them.


Oh, and water colour painting?  That was one of the most creative, in-flow, mornings I’ve had in a long time. 





 J X

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