Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our viscious cycles

I've regularly counselled people where, before the session begins, I'm fairly sure I will find a dys-functional pattern of behaviours that lead to a regular cycle of predictable outcomes. Just recently I counselled a man 'stuck' in depression. According to him he'd had depression for at least 6 months and had been on medication for a few months, having to change medications 3 times until he found one where the side effects were minimal. He said the medication stopped the severity of the lows. What medication will not do is stop the pattern of thinking that may lead to depression.

In the first session of counselling often what takes place is a lot of listening on my behalf as the counsellor. This gives the client the chance to 'off load' what they see is the problem. For this man it was feeling as though he could not make a choice, resulting him often feeling as though his head was 'stuck in the sand', blocking out the outside world.

It became apparent that this result of feeling as though his head was stuck in the sand had happened quite a few times in his life. It had happened at work, with his family, at school (years earlier) and now in his marriage.

It appears a cycle occurs where the 'reward' is his stuckness - his head in the sand feeling. It seems odd saying this is a reward, but it is a reward in the sesne that when things get tough, when problems arise, when stress builds up, at least he can bury his head in the sand and block out the world. Trouble is he doesn't know how to get his head out later!

We attempted to work on some strategies that could break the cycle but it's proving hard to break so far. The head in the sand 'com-for-tability' combined with depression was making change very difficult. He wants to change but stuckness is proving very attractive at the moment. After all it's predicatable and 'comfortable' - nothing to do with happiness but more comfortableness.

So what's your cycle? What keeps you stuck? What are you comfortable doing (what's your head in the sand trick?). It's worth thinking about. It could be the key to getting your head out of the sand - or what ever your 'thing' is!

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