Hands up if you agree with this statement. One of the hardest things is to actually get started. And so this is my first episode of Good Enough Counsellors. Today’s episode is all about why we can find it difficult to get going and it comes down to self belief. So I hope you enjoy listening to this episode and I hope it will inspire you to get started because that is what Good Enough Counsellors podcast is all about.

It’s all about supporting you to reach your dreams. Enjoy. 

In the last few sessions of my level 4 diploma, our tutor asked each person to bring in an exercise for the rest of the class to do. So we had a variety of stuff, I particularly remember having to do some artwork for example. The thing I chose to do was very mean, and it wasn’t a very popular exercise.

So what I did was I brought in this exercise called ‘King for a Day’, and what the person had to do, each person had to take it in turns. They sat in a chair in the middle of the room, and then each of us told them something that we appreciated about them. I thought this was a lovely exercise, but some of the course members found it absolutely excruciating, and they found it really embarrassing. And it certainly, I think, they went away at the end of that session a little bit shaken by the exercise. I’m so mean.

But I think the reason why they found it so difficult is to receive praise and appreciation. Is often something that we haven’t experienced much in the past, and it goes against what we’ve been led to believe about ourselves. And for many of us as counsellors we perhaps haven’t had a very nurturing environment in the past. And our core belief about ourselves is that we’re not good enough, we’re not very good, and we’re certainly undeserving of such praise and appreciation that people were giving. So it’s a real sort of cognitive dissonance.

There’s a real difference between what’s being told us by people and actually what’s going on inside us. And also not only have we been conditioned to believe negative stuff about ourselves because we’ve never had particularly positive feedback, or we’ve been told that we’re a failure. We might have had critical parents for example. But we internalise that and we start telling ourselves those things as well, And so we don’t actually need anybody any longer to tell us that we’re rubbish because we make a perfectly good job of telling ourselves we’re rubbish anyway. So it’s really difficult when someone then gives you positive feedback because you’re just not used to getting it.

What I’d like to talk about today is the fact that you are absolutely unique. No one else is you. No one else has had your family experiences. No one else has been in your particular position in the family, for example, an older or younger sibling, or an only child. No one’s actually had your life.

No one has got your experiences, your life, your family. And so you’re unique, and you bring a unique perspective to the world. And no one else is you. That is your superpower. And it’s difficult sometimes because a lot of our experiences haven’t been easy.

And we can easily get caught up in wishing that we hadn’t had those experiences. And I really don’t want to undermine anybody at this point who’ve been through very difficult traumatic experiences. And if that’s you and you’re still working through them, I want to say that I want you to take what you can out of this and only take what suits you. But certainly for me, what I found is some of the things that I thought were really difficult, perhaps about my early childhood and then later on in life. In fact, have turned out to be really beneficial to me in different ways than I’d ever imagined.

And I can look back now and I can think, you know, I am the person I am because of those experiences. And they have made me into a particular type of person. And I think the real, sort of, changing point for me was to realise that actually I like me. I like the way I am and I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t had those experiences. And, actually, that was a real groundbreaking moment for me when I realised that.

And it made me, actually, more grateful than I’d ever thought I would be to my family, for example. Because I sort of thought, you know, if I hadn’t been through those things, I wouldn’t be the person that I am now. And I like me. So sometimes, things that you may see as disadvantages can actually really be of benefit both to you and to your clients if you’re a counsellor. And I think it’s particularly true for counsellors that some of those things that have been really difficult to deal with are actually really beneficial for our clients, because it does give us a depth of empathy and understanding.

It was actually a real beautiful thing to do, to provide people in the depths of their despair with that metaphorical hand to hold, so they know they’re not alone. Because, you know, that helped me at difficult times. And there were times in my life where I really could have done with that as well. And to be a witness to people, to be alongside people, and to hear, to truly hear what that experience was like for them, and to give them that sense of human connection, to let them know they’re not alone that for me is such an enormous privilege, and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I hadn’t been through those experiences. And so if you’ve been through difficult experiences, you know, this can be a gift for your clients, even if it’s terribly difficult for you to deal with.

So, you know, just to think about a few examples of how that might apply to counselling. So I think a particularly good example is for those of you who are neurodiverse. And this can be, especially as so many older people are getting diagnosed now as having ADHD or autism or some other sort of neurodiverse issue. That this has been something that has been such a struggle for you over the years, and yet it’s so helpful. It’s so helpful to other neurodiverse people.

It’s so helpful that you get it. You know, I’ve spoken to so many dyslexic counsellors over the years. I love working with dyslexic counsellors because they bring such a different way of looking at things. For example, someone I spoke to recently is a Dyslexic counsellor. And so she sort of specialises in helping people visually.

Because lots of dyslexic people, because they struggle to read words, they sort of find other ways. Their brains have other ways of processing. And they can really help people to see things in a different way. And so something that’s actually a really difficult thing to deal with can actually give them an edge sometimes when they’re dealing with clients. And I often think that Dyslexic counsellors are really brilliant counsellors, you know, and what they’ve been through.

They really understand people’s struggles because they’ve had to overcome so much during their lives. So that’s just one little example of how a difficult experience can be used in your therapy. And not necessarily to tell people that you’re dyslexic. It’s just something that you use without even realising that you’re doing it. So I want to move on now to think a little bit more about that sense of cognitive dissonance, that difficulty that we have between what perhaps we are and what we believe ourselves to be.

I’d like to share a quote from Marianne Williamson, who says, ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.’ So for many of us we’re aware that we do have deep seated fears, and we have deep seated fears of rejection. And that plays into what Marianne is saying here. We find it so much easier to believe that we’re not really worth very much. Because if we believe that we’re not worth very much, we can use that as a reason not to explore the limits of our potential, because it’s scary. It really moves us out of our comfort zone to start trying, to see how much we can expand.

And we are so frightened of being found out, because what if we were powerful beyond measure? It’s a really scary thought. What if we believe that, and we put ourselves out there, and then it turns out that we’re not as powerful as we thought. What does that mean? It means that we’ll get rejected, and we are so scared of being rejected.

And let me just say at this point, that fear of rejection is a very natural human way of being. We have evolved to be part of a tribe. If we didn’t have our tribe we would die. But take it back to the savannah we needed to work together. And so the fear of rejection is really baked in at a very deep survival mode level.

So, you know, it’s understandable that we would be fearful of being rejected. But what does that do? It holds us back and it stops us from living up to what we could do. And the fact is that there are no limits to our potential. We’re intelligent human beings and we can learn and we can try new things.

We’ve obviously got natural talents and it’s really good to utilise our talents and to build on those. But also we can learn other things as well. And I think when we’re frightened of moving out of our comfort zone, when we’re frightened of living up to the power that is there within us, we’re actually short changing ourselves. We’re not having the fun that comes with trying things out. And I’ve had very very many years, most of my life I’ve spent believing that I’m not good enough, and that’s beginning to change now.

And I find it, frankly, quite extraordinary that people say things to me like you’re amazing, And I think no I’m not. I’m just me. But I am learning to use some of the talents that I’ve got. And I am being more willing to actually go out there and actually have a go. And I’ll talk more in another episode about dealing with criticism when you’re on a bit of a bigger stage.

But, you know, it’s such tremendous fun to do the things that I’m doing, and, you know, you could be having fun too if you’re prepared to face down that fear of rejection. And it’s not only short changing you, it’s also short changing your potential clients. Because they need you. They need you in your fullness. They need you to be utilising those experiences that they had.

You know, you might be able to really help people if you were prepared to step out of your comfort zone a little bit. So I’d really love to encourage you to start thinking that perhaps you are far more powerful than you imagine. Now since I recorded this episode I have been on some training to do with working with neurodivergent people And I learned that there’s a difference between neurodiversity and neurodivergence. So if you noticed, I did say about neurodiverse people, but actually, we’re all neurodiverse. But someone who’s got dyslexia would be neurodivergent, And so I’m gonna correct myself here at the end of the episode.

But, you know, it just goes to show that sometimes you have to get out there, you just have to get on with things, and actually mistakes aren’t that important. You can learn from them, you can correct them, and you can carry on, because actually the most important thing is to get out there and to be making a difference. And indeed, some of you may not even have noticed that mistake unless I pointed it out. Thanks for listening. Do come and join my Facebook community, Good Enough Counsellors.

And for more information about how I can help you develop your private practice, please visit my website, josephinehughes.com. If you found this episode helpful, I’d love it if you could share it with a fellow therapist or leave a review on your podcast app. And in closing, I’d love to remind you that every single step you make gets you closer to your dream. I really believe you can do it.