Posts Tagged ‘trauma counselling’

Too hard, or really, really hard.

A number of years ago when I first started trauma counselling, I was working on being able to be in crowded places again. I started small, with my local shops, then large shopping centres, and I was building up to more unfamiliar and larger crowds.

The airport was a good place to practice. At first it was frightening to go through the security checkpoints with strangers in front and behind me. But I got used to that and needed a bigger challenge. I told Dr Lee that my daughter had asked me to go with her to the rugby game in two weeks time, and he was really excited – much more excited than I was! He thought that would be perfect. I would be attending something that I was passionate about, and the excitement around me would be a positive reenforcement.

When I turned up at my next appointment he asked how the game went and I had to tell him I didn’t go. I said, ‘It was just too hard.’ He held up a hand to stop me talking and said ‘Wait a minute, let me write that down.’ Then I was encouraged to go over the reasons why I didn’t go. I ended by saying that it was just too hard.

‘Let me tell you something,’ he said. ‘When you say that something is too hard, you’re implying it can’t be done. Like flying… no matter how hard you flap your arms when you jump off the roof, you can’t fly because it is physically impossible. That is too hard. When you look at a mountain and say, “it would be too hard to climb”, then you’re saying that it is impossible to climb. But if you say that the mountain would be ‘really, really hard’ to climb, then there is at least the possibility that it can be done.’

It forever changed the way I think. When I am tempted to say or think something is too big, too hard, too far etc, I now ask, ‘Is it really too hard?  Or is it really, really hard?’ There’s a big difference between something that is impossible to do, and something that is hard to do.


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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Good Monday morning to you all :)

Yesterday I was reminded of something Sir Charles Court used to say. “If you are not 10 minutes early, you’re late.”

Once, I would have agreed with that statement, but not any more. All my life I have endeavoured to be early – didn’t matter what the occasion was. I was so conscious of not being late, that sometimes I would sit in my car for 20 minutes at my appointed place just to make sure I was there on time.

Then one day not so long ago, that all changed.

It was the first wet day of the winter season. My brother had arrived the night before, so I’d been chatting to him with one eye on the clock, conscious of my morning counselling appointment. Then the rain began to bucket down! Suddenly I had two girls to drop at school. One 10 minutes south, and the other 10 minutes west. My brother stepped in and offered to drive one, and I took the other. By now I knew that I was going to be late for my appointment, and felt sick in the stomach.

The usual 35 minute drive ended up taking close to 50 min. By the time I arrived (15 minutes late), I was anxious, flustered, embarrassed and apologetic. The counsellor was somewhat amused, and asked, ‘Haven’t you ever been late before?’

I was surprised. ‘No, I haven’t… at least not that I can remember.’

‘How do you feel about being late?’ he asked.

‘That I am a failure, unreliable, disrespectful… it’s the ultimate in rudeness.’ I replied seriously.

Needless to say, the planned trauma counselling session was postponed. We spent time discussing ‘late’ and I came away with a new, healthier attitude about being late. I still endeavour to be on time, but it is not the end of the world if I don’t make it there with 10 minutes to spare.


(C) DJ Stutley 2012

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It’s Monday morning again :) And it’s raining!

I just love winter. The cold, the wind, and especially the rain. The harder the rain falls the bigger my smile grows.

A while back, when I was going through trauma counselling, I was asked to think of a safe place – a place that gives me a feeling of pleasure or safety. I needed a memory that would help me retrieve a positive emotion that I could bring up and use to replace a feeling of distress or disturbance.

Sitting in a comfortable chair with my eyes closed, I thought back over the years to the many places I’ve been, things I’ve seen and done: sunsets, sunrises, forests, bushwalks, food… nothing seemed to ‘click’. I was about to give up when a picture began to form in my mind. I could feel the tugging of a smile as pleasure welled up inside me. By the time my mental picture was complete, I was grinning. I’d found my ‘safe place’. I opened my eyes and felt like laughing. Who would believe me? Let me describe my safe place…

The rain is bucketing down!  I am standing out on my patio with a cup of coffee. The rain is so heavy I can hardly see the building 20 metres away. The traffic coming down the highway has slowed to a crawl, their headlights weak and distorted. Thunder rumbles overhead. A gust of wind drives the rain towards me and I step backwards. This is my favourite place, favourite season, favourite memory. My ‘safe place’.

Do you have a ‘safe place’? I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great week :)


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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