Beccy Stremes

Blog. beccy black and white

Those voices in our head

Wouldn’t it be so easy if there was just one voice that we heard loud and clear in our heads, that informed us of the best thing to do at all times?

Instead, the reality is more like we have an internal mob made up of different members, all wanting to be heard at the same time, often screaming really loudly to be heard, making it almost impossible to make a decision that feels like it comes from the core part of you.

Imagine that in your head there’s a child, loud and demanding; another that might be feeling vulnerable and scared; there’s a critical parent voice that is giving you a stern talking to, and then there might be the rebellious teenager that’s really not having it! There’s the spontaneous part that just wants to get on with it, and doesn’t want to listen to the other mob members, that are all chattering away, causing confusion and fear in making what might be the right decision.

In my own life, and as a counsellor, I see these internal conflicts being played out constantly in my own heart and head, and in my clients.

I find that working with a client to understand these different parts, can be so cathartic and life changing for them. Understanding our different voice parts, and what they might be trying to protect us from, can mean that we have a more friendly and compassionate relationship with them, which means that, almost like calling a family meeting, the different voice parts can be heard, and cared for, in a way that makes big decisions easier to make, once we really understand what the internal anxieties are.

If you are reading this, and it is making sense to you, then you will probably really benefit from working with me in this way. It is particularly useful for people who tend to think in quite a visual way. Sometimes, just taking a moment, closing your eyes and allowing yourself to ask a certain part what they are feeling angry or distressed about, can allow that part to be heard. It’s a great technique to take away from counselling sessions that you can use by yourself as a great tool for handling difficult times that come up in the future.

If you want to go ahead and book some counselling sessions, please give me a call or send me an e-mail, by clicking here :bstremes@yahoo.com

I am an accredited registered member with the British association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.








Blog. beccy black and white

The Yawning of the New Year's Resolutions

I have been meaning to blog about the whole New Year resolution thing that we all get caught up with. I have been reading loads of blogs, some saying very much that they are a total waste of time, and others showing creative ways of making mood boards for what we want from the new year. Importantly, what I have learnt over the last few years is that I have to look back over the last year, in order to move forward.

Whilst I was drying my hair this morning, and thinking about the 2nd day into a new year, the words “Assimilate; Accomodate and Adapt” floated through my mind. I laughed to myself, because these were the key words that I learnt as a child Psychology student back in the 90’s – Piaget’s Theory if I remember correctly! Basically Piaget was saying that children learn through trying new things, getting it wrong, and then changing and adapting until they get it right. A small baby trying to reach out for a toy placed in front of him, will miss many times, but one jerk of their hand the other way, and they move the toy by accident. They accommodate what they’ve learnt and adapt their moves, so that they eventually learn exactly how to touch the toy and hold on to it. This can be so frustrating and such hard work for a little baby, but their determination gets them there in the end.

And somehow it all began to make sense again. We are all struggling to Assimilate; accommodate and adapt to our ever-changing world. It’s when we suddenly assimilate that something has changed: whether it’s the death of a loved one, or the split up of a relationship; or the loss of a job; any situation where you suddenly find what was the every day norm, has suddenly changed. Other changes are more subtle, just a sudden knowing that everything around isn’t the same anymore, or that awful yearning for something to change.

For me, right now I am assimilating and beginning to really understand that at the approaching age of 55, my life is changing whether I like it or not. Of course I have not wanted to accept this, so I guess I am still assimilating, but I am beginning to accept the changes within me, so beginning to adapt. I’m also at the accepting accommodating stage, and working out how I am going to adapt to face years as someone who is middle aged rather than a youngster. It is a tough stage. I have grown children that instead of me teaching them things, they now teach me! I am not of the leading generation anymore, but I still have an important role to play, and a lot of wisdom to give. Wisdom grows with age, like a matured bottle of wine!

I’m looking at where I want to live; how I want to work; what kind of community I want to live in, all things for the long term future, but nevertheless, worth planting some long term goals towards.

So, I have to know what I am looking forward to, and what my goals are, but I also need to look back at what accommodations and adaptions I have made over the past year. For me, this is about looking back through my business diary as well as my personal diary, to remind myself of just what I have achieved. And, actually, I’ve achieved quite a lot!.

My goals for last year, were to spend more time with friends and family, and have a better sense of being part of the community around me. It has only been by looking through my personal diary, that I am aware of just how much fun I have been having, and yes my business has grown, and I’ve been able to become fully self employed, which has been my goal for many years. I’ve also been able to see the things that hold me back from being part of the community – that reliance on social media rather that talking to new neighbours. Looking back through diary appointments also makes me realize just how much I have done in a year.

I have set myself much harder goals this year, because I’m assimilating that health has to come first, accommodating to this, and adapting by giving up the unhealthy things that I eat and drink. I’m going to be around for a long time (well that’s my goal), and so giving up on the unhealthy things, can only be a good move. I absolutely won’t make exactly the changes that I want, because I’m far from perfect, but I’ll look forward to reviewing 2017, and seeing if I did accommodate and adapt towards the goals I aimed for, and will look forward to feeling I had achieved some change after all.

My belief is, that slowly we get there. Slowly we adapt, making our own little world more accommodating for us. I believe that this is what takes place in the counselling room, a safe place to explore what, how, where and how we want to be.

So, yes I yawned and thought it arduous when I realized it was that time of year again. But when I drew my graph columns for each month of the year, and wrote in my achievements and disappointments, I could see that the disappointments had made me stronger and more resilient, and the achievements had filled me up with energy and positivity. It is so important to recognize our strengths.

So just like little babies learning to reach out and touch a toy, we are constantly learning to adapt to our new environment, and it can be so frustrating, but so rewarding when we get it right. Goals are important. We need to be constantly adjusting and changing, otherwise surely we have given up on the learning of just being in life and all it brings to us.

Happy 2017! I hope that this year is a kind one for you all, and I look forward to seeing all my clients back this week.

Beccy








Blog. beccy 2016

A testimonial received today

Couples counselling testimonial

"We turned to Beccy when we suffered a very difficult time in our marriage. At the time she was the last resort before separation.
We really did not know what to expect, as we had tried a number of other counsellors, but they had not really worked.
Beccy has an incredibly calm and non judgemental demeanour. She was able to help us navigate through our issues, teach us new tools and come out stronger. We are incredibly grateful for her saving our marriage and for helping us have a happier, healthier relationship"


October 2015



Blog. Lost at sea

Lost at sea - the therapeutic journey

Transitions – lost at sea
When you experience change, whether it’s a welcome change, or a cruel unexpected change, it can take a long time to feel that secure base of safety again and you can feel lost, fearful and unsure of anything anymore. With these feelings present, you may find that making decisions are impossible. You may feel that your stomach is constantly knotted, and there is a constant feeling of being Lost at Sea. All is just not ok. You may feel as if there are a million different thoughts darting through your mind, none of which are making much sense. Focusing may be extremely difficult and it feels like there is no way forward.

When we start working therapeutically together, the counselling space becomes a secure base for you to start unfolding all those feelings and fears. I stop alongside you. I don’t try and give advice or find a solution, but I act as an anchor, a place to ground, and we explore together everything that has brought you to this place, this part of the ocean that is so scary right now. We wait however long it takes until you are ready. Like a damaged boat lost at sea, we work together to make repairs, replacing old wood for new wood and new strengths for old weaknesses before we attempt to move on.

When the time is right, and you are repaired enough, I sail along side you as you begin your journey towards your new secure base. We journey at your pace, sometimes moving quickly forward, sometimes getting stuck for a while, and sometimes being dragged back a bit. But slowly we are definitely moving forward together on your journey and I stay beside you for however long the journey takes.

As you sail slowly forward, the shore begins to take shape and I know my journey with you is coming to an end soon. We spend time looking ahead to the new life just in front of you, and pay respect to the difficult journey you have sailed. You have new strengths with the wind within your sail and your own life is in front of you again. As we approach land, we bid a fond farewell and we part as I watch you in the distance stepping out. Our therapeutic journey has ended and your adventures are ready to begin. You have found your feet and are on solid ground again, you have found your own secure base.



Blog. journey jars

The visual journey jar option

If you are a visual person, visual journey jars can be helpful for you to take stock of the transition you are facing through a physical, hands on approach. This can make your therapeutic journey more memorable and is an extremely visual way of seeing how far you have come on your journey. There are three Jars- The Lost at sea Jar, The Journey Jar and the secure base Jar



The Lost at see jar
Our journey together usually starts with that "Lost at sea" feeling, With the uncovering of you story and all your unique ways of seeing the world. I walk alongside you, slowly learning how it is to be you. What I sense of your world, I write down on little notelets, and place them safely in your Lost at see jar. Sometimes in between our sessions, I might make sense of something and add it to your jar to check out with you, as you are the expert in your world. Your jar is kept in a safe confidential place between your sessions and will be present during your sessions for you to use when you wish to. When you make sense of something, you add it to your jar. After about three sessions, we empty the jar and look at all that we have discovered together and explore the areas that you would like to change or repair. We note the strengths that we have both observed or uncovered and the areas in your life that are hindering your journey. As we learn together, we often see that underneath the initial issue that brought you to counselling, there were many thoughts and beliefs about yourself that were hindering you and causing you real pain.

The journey Jar
We then start working on the areas that you have decided need the most attention and thought, and as you make subtle changes, we both add what we see or feel, to your Journey jar, celebrating the smallest subtlest moments of change a long the way.

The secure base jar
When you have reached the place where you wanted to be, we re- visit both the lost at sea jar and your journey jar, making use of your new thoughts and feelings, and taking time to appreciate the journey you have travelled. A final secure base jar is filled with your own aspirations and dreams for the future, and any special new ways you have learnt to overcome obstacles that were causing you to suffer. The secure base jar is then yours to keep and treasure if you wish, enabling you to re-visit when you want reminding of how far you have come, or to seek aspirations or tools that have been helpful to you.


If you would like to book an introductory session, please contact me by phone on 07834 422039 or e-mail me at bstremes@yahoo.com
If you would like to make use of the Journey Jars, I charge a one off extra fee of £5 to cover cost of materials and Jars, or you may wish to make your own Journey jars and bring them along to the sessions for your use.






Blog. beccy black and white

Why Counselling?

If we are physically ill, most of us go to the doctors, and ask for help to put things right. It's a sensible thing to do. We don't want to feel the aches and pains, and we are looking after ourselves. In fact, if you complain of an illness to a friend, most likely the first thing they will say is " Have you been to the doctor?"
If we are feeling emotionally unwell, somehow we expect ourselves to "Get over it" and carry on. We plod on regardless, and usually through positive experiences happening as well, we quickly recover and get on with dealing with life. However, sometimes our emotions just get too worn down, like getting a bout of flu over and over again, and this is when I feel counselling has a real part to play. When we are at this point we "simply can't see straight" and a helping hand is what is needed. This can often be the helping hand of a friend, but every now and then their words don't comfort anymore and you know you need outside help. To speak to an absolute stranger IS Scarey. To talk to someone and tell them how awful you really are feeling takes guts. It's a big brave step to take, and I have loads of admiration for anyone picking up the phone to make that first contact.
My own experience of having counselling has left me in a place where I have a better understanding of how my mind works and my emotions work. I've realised that when someone or something makes me feel vulnerable, I will react in a certain way to keep myself safe. Only sometimes the way I react is not helpful to myself. I may be feeling vulnerable because of a fear that stemmed from something years back. I may start feeling anxious or panicy, re-living the original fear when actually it's not necessary. I will react much better from a position of neutrality, rather than triggering off a reaction from fear. I'm waffling, so let me try giving you an example.
My belief is that I cannot cope with opinionated people. This stems from my family life where there were strong debates about politics. As a child I felt threatened by the ever increasing noise when the debates started. I would feel anxious, on hyper alert, and wouldn't dare speak even if I desperately needed something. When I hear someone being opinionated now, my immediate reaction is to feel anxious; on the alert and ready to escape, and this feeling usually make me withdraw very fast from the conversation. Now I can see that this was how I felt as a child, I can see I don't necessarily have to feel like this today. So, actually rather than withdraw, I might quite enjoy learning where their opinions came from. Because I don't feel vulnerable, I might join a conversation that is really interesting, I might even challenge what they are saying. I don't have to agree with anything. So, I have the chance to try out different ways of reacting, which let's me have more choices in life, rather than just reacting the way I always did. This is just a small example of how we can react differently when we have a chance to explore our past and the behaviours we set up to deal with issues.
SO this is my experience of counselling - the chance to discover patterns of behaviour which are reactions to emotions, and then decide whether I want to carry on reacting the same way, or try out other ways. It's like a freedom from the rut, a chance to do things differently. A new beginning.
If you feel like you're reacting from past experiences which are holding you back, and would like a fresh start, away from those original emotions, counselling may be for you.
If you would like to book an introductory session, please contact me by phone on 07834 422039 or e-mail me at bstremes@yahoo.com



I have a brain in my Stomach

According to Michael Gershon, M.D., author of The Second Brain (Harper-Collins, 1999), we have a second brain in our stomach. I heard this mentioned at a conference I was at the other day, and it made so much sense, I just had to write about it.
So, those "Gut" feelings and "Gut" Instincts now make perfect sense, and I will now be listening even more intently to what my stomach is saying to me.
I see my stomach as a round Pie chart - with different sections that grow or reduce depending on my feelings.There's different sections for anxiety; sadness; joy; anger; guilt and shame, and they all have different colours. So for me, anger is red; joy is yellow; sadness is grey;anxiety is purple; guilt and shame is green. Through each message sent from my brain, my stomach reacts and the pie chart shifts around from emotion to emotion in a constant movement of colour. I am learning to really listen to stomach, and work out which emotions I am feeling. This is a helpful tool, because I may be feeling angry about a situation that I've just experienced, but I'm unsure why? When this happens, I can think about my earliest memories of being angry. Most times this gives me a little indicator of any patterns of anger, and I can quickly see whether I am just reacting to old patterns of anger to see whether the anger I'm feeling right now is really justified. If I'm feeling anxious, I can quietly see what I can do to calm it down a bit. Do I just need to really organise my day, so that the thoughts that are causing anxiety are addressed. This anxiety usually happens when I am dealing with a lot of different work issues and I'm not sure which tasks to prioritise first. Just thinking about what the anxiety is about, means I can see what is the most important thing to get done, and what else can be ditched for the time.
When things get ditched, I imagine wrapping the thoughts and actions needed, up into a nice box with lovely wrapping paper and a big bow round it. I then wrap this in cling film a few layers. In my imagination, I then push the wrapped box, ever so gently with both hands, and watch it disappear into the sky, where it sits neatly on a little ledge ready for when I need to look at it. If I do this, it means I have THIS day, to look at what is important to get done, and I have a much better chance of achieving all my goals for the day. Tomorrow, I can send for the lovely wrapped box, and see whether it is the right day to open it, and tackle the issue inside. What this does for me, is it reduces my anxiety, and leaves me more space to en "Joy" other parts of my day.
If I am really feeling anxious, ten minutes listening to a good meditation tape, works wonders. I have to admit, this took practice, and at first I couldn't get my brain to be quiet. If I can stop the constant chatter in my brain, it gives my stomach a chance to re-balance, so that the pie chart is all nicely equal for a little while. When it's equal, my body feels calm, and I feel at peace with the world. When I'm at peace, It's usually followed very quickly by a real feeling of Joy.

If you feel your own personal pie chart in your gut is out of balance, and would like to explore this with me, please contact me and we can arrange a time that suits you, to meet and see how we can re-balance this together.

If you would like to book an introductory session, please contact me by phone on 07834 422039 or e-mail me at bstremes@yahoo.com







Blog. January blog

Perceptions

When I look out of my window I see a cloudy grey sky, lots of cars, a clear road, and a mixture of houses. The photo that I have just taken isn’t particularly exciting, but in that moment of looking outside, I take in many thoughts, feelings. If a client stood right beside me, looking at the same road, he would have many thoughts, feelings, but they wouldn’t be the same as mine. That is because we each have a very unique perception on the world out there. Before you carry on reading, have a look at the photo, note what you see in this photo, any feelings it brings, or any thoughts that come up.


What I see is a grey sky. It feels cold and a little uninviting and I immediately feel happy for the warmth of my house, and no reason to go out today. I note the cars, and to the left of the picture I spot a red car. My Mum told me never to buy a red car, as it meant danger. I note the big white house opposite, and it brings a warm safe secure feeling into my awareness, but at the same time I feel a little alone, a bit of an outsider. I note the cars, and in my mind it is a quiet day, for I can see a few spaces for parking.

How different was your experience when you looked at the photo? Did you clock the red car and have the same thoughts as me? Did you have the same experience when you looked at the big white house, which I can now reveal is indeed a Church. Did you think the road looked busy whereas I perceived it as a quiet day? If you put ten of us in front of that same spot, we would all probably have extremely different thoughts. One of the makes of cars might remind you of a friend who has the same, and they may enter your mind. You may even think, I should phone them? So every view we see triggers different responses and actions in all of us. This is known as perception. So why am I writing about this? - because I believe that understanding this is the most important part of my role as a counsellor.

When a client sits with me, I need to cast aside my view on the world, and spend valuable time asking questions so that I can see how their unique world is for them. I need to listen really carefully so that I get it right, so that I can step as closely into the client's shoes and see it through their eyes. This is what is called empathy- defined as “Identifying with or experiencing vicariously another's thought, feeling, or attitude” I will never be able to be “In” your shoes, because only you have walked that unique path, and no-one on this planet has experienced that exact same path with you. The important part is that I can try and understand it from your view.

Getting back to the red car in the left of the photo – a conversation between a client and counsellor might go like this:-
Client: “You should never buy a red car, they’re dangerous”
Csllr: “ A red car’s dangerous?”
Client: “Yeah, you’re bound to have an accident in one – not good”
Csllr: “So where does this come from – red car’s being dangerous?”
Client “Ah, Mum said it for years – never buy a red car”
Csllr: “Ah, so Mum thought they were dangerous. Do you know what was behind that?”
Client “You know, I’ve never thought of asking her. I really don’t know”
Csllr :“Is this like a real fear for you, or do you think you learnt it?”
Client :“Well, I must have learnt it, because now I think about it, they’re actually quite cool”
Csllr :“so, thinking about it you actually think red cars are quite cool, but I sense that you’re still feeling some of your Mum’s fear – like she must be right?”
Client :“Yeah, I must ask her what it’s all about, maybe do a bit of research too and see if it’s a well known fact or just some random fear passed down through the family”
Csllr“ So, you’re going to check it out then!”
Client “Too right, I always wanted a red car”

I still find it amazing how much we learn when we are just given the space to explore our own minds with the help of someone wanting to “Get our picture” and it’s a wonderful experience when a client finds joy that they don’t have to stick with a perception that doesn’t feel right for them anymore. So, when you’re sitting with a friend and they say something that seems completely ludicrous, set aside your perception and take the time to find out about theirs – you could end up having a really interesting conversation.

I always try to keep the issues I talk about in my blog as light as possible, but at the same time, enabling the reader a glimpse of what happens in the counselling relationship. If you would like some help on aspects of your life which are causing you issues and pain, please e-mail me to discuss a time to meet for an introductory one hour session.

Happy New Year and best wishes
Beccy


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