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It’s that time of year, when the world turns


What a strange time of year it is. As nature turns inwards and slows down, the humans of this world are gearing up for the holiday season and pushing ourselves externally to be with others. As the world turns dark we put up bright and colourful lights, we illuminate the sky and keep away the dark. As nature sheds what no longer serves her, in some instance we are taking on situations that no longer serve us because it is what is expected of us. As nature takes what she needs from the past, we are looking to the future with resolutions and ‘New Year, New You’ mantra. As nature lays seeds and rests following the bustle of harvest we are pushing ourselves onward.

I love nature, and I experience and believe in the health benefits it provides us, so much that I offer walk and talk therapy sessions to my clients and these have proven to be very popular. In other posts I have written on I have reflected on why my walk and talk clients seem to do their therapeutic work in a different way to my online or face to face ones, in terms of how nature reflects things to us about our own lives through her cyclical nature. And I am different in these sessions, even when I am feeling tiered a forest session will always revive me. Whilst I am working holding and creating space for my client, so nature seems to create and hold the space for me to revive, without taking anything away from the client’s experience. The last time I was in the forest I found myself reflecting on how nature was in her current winter state of resting, turning inwards and doing the inner work needed to ensure that next year the trees will grow new leaves, there will be new flowers and fruit, the animals are resting either through hibernation or through doing less- even my cat is sleeping more (who knew that was possible) now the days are darker. And yet, as I say we humans are seemingly doing everything to avoid that. Even the Winter Solstice is being heralded as a return of longer days and so better health and more joy.

But why? Why are we so objectionable to the darker side of things? Why are we so scared to rest? Is that we are scared? What will happen if we don’t give 100% in all areas of our life? Even though nothing functions at 100% all the time. The moon is not full more than 3 days a month. The sun does not shine all day and does not shine consistently throughout the year. What would happen if we stopped for a moment and let things go? What would happen if we turned inwards? If we reflected on the year and what wisdom we could gain from it? If we reflected and examined the aspects of the last year and shed what no longer served us? If we rested to allow for a better spring, summer and autumn next year? Why do we think December is the time of year to be loud and external when as the light fades and by ancient standards we should be doing less and resting more?

As therapist we spend a lot of time working in the darker parts of our client’s lives and minds, we hold them with compassion, care and understanding there. We create a space where they can safely explore that and (just as with the sun) come out of the otherside and into lighter days and places within them. That is not to say they will never return to these darker places, just as the seasons change so will their lives, but hopefully with our help they will be able to flow with the changes in their lives.

We as therapists also spend a lot of time in our shadow world through our own therapy and supervision where we explore the things that we are worried about with our client’s and the parts of us that we feel might need more work, development or that we need more insight into. We trust that these examinations and awareness of our inner world will allow our work to be better. That it will allow us to become more aware of both the darker and lighter sides of us and to be more present with our clients.

Yet turning inwards is something that we encourage our client’s to do as is holding the boundaries of their lives to keep them strong, happy and safe. In recent sessions a lot of my clients have been discussing and exploring how to have a Christmas that works for them as well as all those around them.

Being present with our clients is key to being a therapist. To be present with your client is one of the most powerful things we can be. Not just to fully see and accept them but to fully be ourselves and to embody all of who we are. This cannot happen with out internal reflection and awareness. Our client’s know that, that is why they come to us for therapy. They want us to create the safe space for them to explore their inner world, just as our therapists and supervisors hold that space for us.

But this work is hard, for our clients and for us,  can we really do work effectively if we are exhausted and, as a client recently said to me, are ‘giving from an empty pot.’ ? Just as our clients work to take care of themselves and their energy especially around this time of year, so should we. And taking a lesson from Nature at this time of year maybe we should slow down, take a rest, gather in what we need for the winter, reflect on what happened in the last year, shed what no longer serves us, receive the wisdom, lessons and nutrients from the past year, rest, sow the seeds for next years growth but expect nothing from them until the spring. Maybe through doing that not only will we feel more rejuvenated for the coming year and all that it has to bring but we will also get a chance to look inwards and see that our inner world and the dark is not that scary it allows us a chance to rest, change and it eventually leads to the light.

Charlie is a Person-Centred Psychotherapist and our Practice Director. Charlie works with all types of adult clients and issues, and has previously worked for Beyond Reflections. You can find her profile and how to book a session with her here.

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