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How Therapy helps. Feeling lost and getting found.

Updated: Feb 5

So, you’ve finally left education, gone into the workplace, and may even have met someone. Some of you may have started a family together, whereas others may have focused on their career and yet…. you may still look in the bathroom mirror and not fully recognise the image staring back at you. You may feel ‘lost’. Lost in your relationship or under the moniker of ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ or lost in a job title that has come to define you, ‘Software Programmer’, ‘Teacher’, ‘Managing Director’, you get my drift. But how can you possibly feel lost if surrounded by loved ones and having experienced the emotional richness of finding love with a partner, which may even have resulted in being loved by a little one who looks like you? How can you possibly feel lost if you’ve realised your dream, climbed the career ladder, and gained your peer group's admiration and respect?


For many of us, the thought of having a relationship with ourselves feels extremely odd. Prioritising our needs may feel selfish and self-serving. Maybe it's something we've never considered. We may have been brought up to prioritise the needs of others, but while very worthy, this is often to the exclusion of getting what we need. Perhaps for one reason or another, our parents were not able to impart affection and care, and we grew up without a relational blueprint. Such emotional malnourishment can often impact our sense of self-worth and our connection with who we are. As these ‘titles’ lose relevance (through redundancy, retirement, empty nest), we too may feel we are ‘disappearing’…. and becoming lost.


Stranger still is the idea of sitting in a room once a week with someone we barely know and sharing these feelings. Further, the thought of understanding ourselves and what we need through the interactions in these 50-minute sessions may feel bizarre, and yet…. this is the basis of ‘talking therapy’ - to get to know ourselves through another.


Many of us will negotiate life, avoiding these feelings, never getting to know the person who resides in us. We may stoically remain someone’s parent or partner or cling to the job title that has framed us in an unquestioning but increasingly sterile bubble, away from knowing other parts of ourselves. Perhaps these other parts may feel dangerous and present us with challenges, threatening to unseat us from this cocoon we’ve existed in for so long.


Donald Winnicott, a wonderful Psychotherapist who devoted his life to understanding the human condition, once wrote, ‘It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found’. How therapy helps is that it offers an opportunity for self-discovery, an opportunity to emerge from a vague idea or title we have associated with ourselves to acknowledge the reality of what we need as human beings, giving us a chance to operate and flourish in the world, IF we are able to grant ourselves that gift… the gift of time, patience and self-understanding so that we can be found.

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