“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” –Albert Einstein
As summer ends so autumn begins. Children have gone back to school and those summer holidays seem like a distant memory, and perhaps you are looking at some changes. So… this seems an appropriate time to talk about fresh starts.
Isn’t it amazing how often we seem to link making changes or fresh starts with certain times of year? Consider the New Year; as part of our annual to-do list, we are expected to make resolutions and make successes of them. In theory this seems like a great idea; it suggests that we can box up all the stress, problematic issues and learnings from the previous year, save them up for January when we can just put it all behind us and start again. Wow, that’s a lot of pressure! In this way fresh starts can seem so contrived, but the reality is that fresh starts are happening to us, and those around us, all the time, whatever the time of year.
I guess sometimes it is easier to think that we can put things off until a certain time of year or even stage in life. Doing so may gives us a sense of control, gives comfort and helps us survive the daily grind. We reason, rationalize and make excuses to ourselves about why we are not ready to make a fresh start. At this point I need to make it clear that I am not ‘knocking’ delaying making change as sometimes, our reasons are valid, and strategic thinking can be the right thing for us at that moment.
Fresh starts always mean change and this can be difficult for us at the best of times. Change can mean letting go of something that we value or valued. It can mean shaking up the routines we have become familiar with or that have become familiar to those around us. Sometimes it just seems easier for things to stay the same, even though there is an underlying feeling that we could be missing out or that things could be better. Making changes in our lives may even feel to us like a selfish act, especially if we have come to see the needs of others as more important than our own. Let’s face it, there is a lot of guilt-making in society as a whole! There really are just so many reasons we can put off change.
Sometimes fresh starts are not planned; sometimes they just happen as a result of something unforeseen or out of our control, making us feel overwhelmed and more than a little shaken. There is often grief and loss before a fresh start. We may lose someone we love, a relationship may break down or we could lose a job and/or financial stability. There will always be endings before there are beginnings, quite simply the two are intertwined.
So why make a fresh start…
I guess the important thing to consider is that if you find yourself spending considerable time wishing for change, then change is important to you. Careful consideration needs to be given to the result of sacrificing opportunity for it. Perhaps there will never be just the right time, and if we are not careful the moment could just pass us by. We may always have that niggling feeling of regret at the ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could be’.
Beginnings can be exciting and liberating. They can lead us to a life that is more authentic to ourselves, and to a way of living filled with increasing opportunity in our personal and professional lives. Fresh starts are just as much about finding out who we really are and what really makes us tick. We need to silence that side of ourselves that feels selfish, or fears the impact on others. Consider this- if we are living in way that is disingenuous to ourselves and makes us unhappy, are we really that good at hiding it within our relationships? More often than not, when we become happier and more fulfilled, our relationships improve. Where they don’t, sometimes it allows us the opportunity to re-evaluate the healthiness of them.
How can counselling help…
First of all, let me just say, we counsellors are not immune to fresh starts as human beings ourselves! It is more than likely your counsellor has navigated their way through a fair amount of change in their own lives and can offer a warm, empathic and non-judgemental space for you to freely explore your thoughts and feelings around making a fresh start.
In order to make a change we often need to process endings, possibly to consider our grief around them and understand their impact. We need a place to talk about all these things without worrying about how saying them out loud might impact others. We need a place to truly hear ourselves and to reflect on what has happened and what needs to be done. Counselling is not about advice-giving or telling you what to do, but is about fostering the ability to trust your own decision-making, only then then can we feel more empowered and in control. Having counselling allows you to feel more connected with yourself, who you are and what you want.
Counselling offers someone to sit beside you each week on that journey of discovery, which can feel all too lonely. It is a space for the ultimate self-care, to be truly heard and acknowledged. As a counsellor I see the greatest change in the therapy room when the client feels someone accepts them for who they really are, unconditionally and often for the first time. Because if someone else values you, accepts you just as you are, then maybe you can give yourself a break and do the same. Perhaps you can see yourself differently and be kinder to yourself. You are worthy of a fresh start whatever the time of year!
Lizzy Mills – Rise Counselling
07341 872 921