There are stacks of reasons that people seek out guidance or support, but one of the most common ones I find myself hearing time and time again at the moment is this:
“I just don’t feel like me anymore... maybe I never have.”
It’s something I feel like clients have said to me for years, but the more time goes on, the more and more time goes on.
Maybe that’s partly because of the clients that come into me, and the fact that they’re drawn to a more Soul-led way of life that really encourages more internal delving and a much deeper connection with themselves.
But I also think increasingly that lack of connection is a symptom of our Western culture, and one that we’re only now really starting to recognise and demand to fix.
Where does that disconnection start?
The story of us becoming disconnected from ourselves is a long one, starting with the way so many cultures turned, or were forced, away from the land to a more industry-focused way of life and continuing the step by step disconnection over hundreds of years. But most recently, I think we see it in the way we're taught to view ourselves.
The society I grew up in – those so many of us live in – have for the longest time taught us that things like “success”, “happiness” and fulfillment are definitive goals that look a specific way to everyone.
We’re shown the models of how those things look time and time again and told over and over that those images, labels and boxes are the things we must work towards if we want to feel happy, successful and fulfilled.
Because of course you must be making a certain amount of money in a “serious” career; find a monogamous, physically attractive partner who adores you; buy a big house with a garden; have a couple of kids; take a couple of overseas holidays every year; have a strong and fit body at all times… do I need to go on? Because frankly I’m as bored of typing that list as you probably are of reading it.
And what’s more, I’m as bored of hearing that bullshit as you probably are too. Because although some people truly strive for all or some of those things; the idea that happiness, success or fulfillment is some sort of check box exercise that looks exactly the same for everyone is just ridiculous, and our fixation with that idea has undoubtedly led us to more of the opposite feelings that it has to any of those positive ideas they’re supposed to bring.
The other thing that weird way of looking at fulfillment tells us is that the way to happiness is through other people and external factors. You can’t be happy unless you’re in a relationship; the only thing that classes as success is a big house and a well-paid career; you’ll never be fulfilled unless you’re a parent.
As that old line which is now such a cliché I’m not even sure who first said it goes, happiness is an inside job. Just like fulfillment, success, wisdom, healing, respect, connection and so many other things.
The problem is we’ve all become so disconnected from ourselves we have no idea how those things look for us.
So what’s the secret to acing that job? It starts with re-connecting to ourselves and to all of the things that we’ve been taught to ignore over the years in favour of everything the outside world would prefer us to listen to.
Where does re-connection start?
The outside world never asks who we really are; not through the roles we play for other people, or the jobs we’re paid to do, but through the things that light up our hearts, the moments we feel most rooted, the source of our deepest fears and the road to our greatest dreams.
On a more Soul-led level when people ask us what we want they’re often referring to that moment, and rarely encouraging us to tune into the wisdom of our own intuition; when they ask where we come from they’re referring to the place we were born or the colour of our skin rather than the ancestors whose stories and experiences live in our blood; and when they ask about our past they’re talking about the time we’ve been alive in this body without thinking to go any further back.
But isn’t it time we learn some, if not all, of those things for ourselves?
Isn’t understanding who we are, and the other factors that influence so much of our lives and actions, a key part of not just that re-connection to ourselves but of that bigger quest to understand what things like fulfillment, happiness and success mean to us and how we go about reaching those things.
Getting back to yourself
For me this re-connection is something that’s happened gradually – and is still happening as I reconnect more and more deeply with the different parts of myself.
There’s never been one second along the way when I’ve thought “aha! I’m baaaaaaaack!” But there have been little flashes of that… sudden stomach clenching, heart swelling moments when I’ve felt a little bit of myself slot back into place.
I shared on Instagram last week that my favourite moment of client work is the point where I’m able to say to a client “Oh! There you are!”
It usually comes a few sessions into our work together, when the person who felt so lost, uncertain and maybe even defeated from the outset suddenly gives way to someone who just feels, sounds and even looks more them. Honestly, I’m not sure I can even describe the moment that well, but I love it.
I love it because it’s a sign of the progress that person is making on their journey and a reminder of who and what we’re working towards.
But the thing I love more than experiencing that moment is on passing that onto the client and unpacking that idea with them.
Nine times out of ten the person has felt so lost for so long they've almost forgotten who they're trying to connect to, but by tuning into their feelings when that moment of recognition occurred we almost give them a tangible goal to work towards.
And often through the work that we’ve done, the journey back to themselves has been such a gradual but almost natural process they’ve barely even registered the change.
Recently I wrapped up working with a client who’d begun her first session feeling tired, low and pretty damned defeated with the way life was working out for her. The first time we met I asked her what she wanted out of Counselling – if I could wave a magic wand and make things better how would life look and how would she feel?
She shrugged her shoulders. Yes she was hoping Counselling would help her, but as she saw it she’d made her decisions and was pretty much stuck with the life she had as a result.
Fast forward a handful of months and she began our last session chatty and positive, a poster girl for empowerment as she spoke about the changes that had come about in her life as a result of her realising she was worth so much more than she’d once thought.
We recapped the work we’d done and I reminded her of that first session. She was silent for a moment “I almost can’t remember that girl. It feels like she wasn’t even me.”
Of course it was her, just as whoever you are reading this, you’re still you. But the secret is that there is so so much more of you waiting to support, guide and buoy you every single moment of every day.
So maybe it’s time to find that broader part of yourself again, and reconnect with it once and for all.
If you’re interested in Soul-Centered Counselling and would like to find out more, or to book in for a free introductory session, please click here.