Since we inhabit a world where we are faced with so many external forces and expectations, we often fail to follow our conscience or what I’d like to call our ‘compass’. Our behaviour is largely moulded by what we have learned from external authorities both in our past and present, and which have become internalised through repetition. We are often failing to think about what matters to ourselves and following our conscience and our resulting life choices are more about what society and others expect –this is a sort of pseudo-conscience.
Our ongoing struggles in life, whether this is in work, relationships or other matters, often throw us into conflict between our existential needs and the more expected societal ones. These difficulties can often cause considerable psychological upheaval resulting in depression and anxiety.
Of course, we can rarely operate in a complete vacuum given that most life experiences involve the consideration of others’ wishes and needs. We have to somehow negotiate this conflict between our ‘self’ following the path that is right for us and the path that is expected to be right for us. People can be beset with guilt that they are thinking about themselves rather than fitting in and adhering to an external and authoritarian control.
I am interested in thinking about enabling individuals to be authentic to themselves in how they operate in all areas of their life. I am offering some sessions on this way of working – ‘Internal Compass Therapy’ (ICT) – as a way toensure that these internal needs receive the attention they deserve, and in doing so, allow for a more genuine approach to the way in which we lead our lives. If we focus too much on the external pressures and mechanically doing what other epect or feel is right for us, we risk blocking the process of doing what is right for us. My sessions follow a structure to both bring out the ‘real self’ and unpick the clarity of our sense of personal direction (the ‘Internal Compass’).
ICT can use some visual aids to help identify an individual’s current and desired map and path. It is a cross between conventional exploratory therapy and life coaching. Some of the spade work is about analysing the roots and blocks to the way in which we currently operate. Some of this may be about altering the language we use to describe ourselves, shedding habits and developing new and creative ways of thinking.
Ultimately, ICT is about following our conscience and internal need rather than the superficial compass that has come from the outside. This work may be about building self-esteem so that we can feel comfortable that the choices we make are right for us, nourishing and paving the way for an enriched and happier existence.
The process of ICT is really about disentangling the client from the ‘stuff’ or negative self-chatter that gets in the way of knowing ourselves. This ‘noise’ can come from so many places and not just the obvious ones such as our own family, peer group, school, work, and media. Increasingly, the role of others through social media is dominant, particularly amongst younger people. Social comparison has always existed but the immediate and constant ‘feed’ from the likes of Instagram and Facebook can be forceful in making us think less about what we truly want but more about others.
So many problems in the therapy room can fit into this way of conceptualising our internal conflicts. We can only make these changes if we are well aligned. When we are out of alignment, we can either neglect ourselves and yield to expectations from others, or we can only think about ourselves and fail to appreciate that we exist within a social system. We need to learn strategies to reach this alignment and have an authentic life. It is inevitable that the complexities of life will mean that we need to recalibrate our internal compass. This technique will hopefully clarify y]our life path so we can move forward.