Feeling that we are alone facing the worlds problems, or on our own with problems that face us can leave us feeling overwhelmed and powerless.
Along with feelings of loneliness , we can often feel most isolated with feelings and problems that others widely share. Loss, separation, fear, uncertainty. If these are so common why do we feel uniquely on our own in our experience ?
Most therapy approaches recognise this and therapist are not immune from feeling the same in their own lives.
But why so alone when, as Carl Rogers, the originator of the Person Centred approach rightly observed, “what is most personal is most universal”?
Could it be that compared to others we are less able? Or is it shame in the belief that if everyone else can cope, my not-coping must be kept secret? A belief that somehow, ‘how I feel makes me unacceptable.’
Shame and rejection, or fear of it are often the route cause, but the devil can also be in the detail. To feel supported we need to feel accepted, and for that we feel the need to be understood. “If they knew what I have been through, what was really happening to me”.
It’s is the detail we use to explain our hurt that makes our feeling seem unique, but therapy tries to work beyond the detail.
Everybody has a context that is specific to their experience and as a therapist I am used to working with many different contexts that I have not experienced. For example I work with people who’ve been abused, lost loved ones, had terminal diagnoses or got divorced. The fact that I haven’t shared these contexts is not a problem in therapy.
Therapy is about believing and accepting your understanding of your experience and working with the feelings that arise from that. Feelings are where we are not alone. It is fundamental to therapy that while there maybe a near infinite number of contexts in their detail, there are no new human emotions. The emotions you feel are common to us all.