Stella Goddard

BA (Hons) Counselling
Registered and Accredited Counsellor BACP, Registered and Accredited Counsellor ACC,
Registered Accredited Professional NCPS
Recognised Registered and Accredited Counsellor with Bupa, Aviva and Cigna

Which voices do you listen to?

This article is inspired by Nick Wright on LinkedIn. Nick is a Psychological Coach, Trainer and Organisational Development Consultant who wrote a piece recently about the voices that people are influenced by – these include their own voice, the voice of other people, the voices of their culture as well as a spiritual voice.

In our childhood we experience the voices of people who are responsible for our care – parents, teachers, family, friends. What they say to us is really important because it influences the way we see ourselves, other people and the world. If we are accepted and loved by people who offer comfort when we are in distress this makes a big difference in the way that we are able to meet our needs, establish healthy relationships and fulfil our potential.

What does the media say?

The media seems to have a very loud voice at the moment. (perhaps it was always like that) As we listen to and read the headlines on social media, it can be really difficult to process the information that is being poured out non-stop. It is designed to get our attention and we may find ourselves drawn in and forming an instant opinion which may then be suddenly changed when a conflicting piece of information comes in. How do we work out what the truth of any situation is when we don’t necessarily have access to all the facts?

This can lead to high levels of anxiety, anger, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating and the ability to relax.

It seems to me that we have all been on a a very difficult journey in the last 2 years. We have all been affected – worldwide. Somehow we need to manage the impact of the voices and find a quiet place where we can think clearly. It can feel as though the voices are very loud and dominant and can hinder our ability to process and reflect.

So much Noise

Our mind and body can only take so much stress. We all have a limit. If we are in the presence of aggression, tension and fear we will not feel safe and this may lead to our mental and physical health breaking down. It can be hard to stop if we feel that this is not allowed by other people. If we don’t pause, we are in danger of burnout. I am concerned when I hear phrases like ‘we are working round the clock.’ It is not weak to say ‘I need some peace and quiet.’

What does your family and personal culture say?

Work hard, play hard? Something else?

What does your professional culture say?

If you want to succeed here, you need to be available 24 hours a day? Something else?

What do you say?

I wonder if your inner voice is kind and self-compassionate or critical and belittling. Sometimes our inner voice is clouded by someone significant in our lives who has told us that we are ‘not good enough’ and that ‘no-one loves us.’ This can lead to low self-esteem and anxiety.

A safe placecoming out of hibernation

We are gradually coming out of hibernation – making connections again in a time when we still face much uncertainty. Somehow we need to find a way of building something new, taking with us the lessons we have learnt and leaving behind the things which are no longer helpful.

I was in the gym today and in a conversation with one of the gym staff – she referred to it as a ‘safe place.’ I hadn’t been in her class for a while and she wondered where I had been. It was such a good morning – getting some much needed exercise and having several meaningful conversations in which we were able to connect and check how we were. I have been a member of my gym for many years and it is a really important place in the community. People know one another and genuinely care. I noticed that after time spent there I felt very relaxed and knew that part of the reason for this was the kindness and real interest that I had experienced. We talked about how important human connection is. We need to slow down long enough to ‘see people’ and ‘hear them.’ We talked about how the pandemic had caused us to really value our relationships and also the importance of our choices and their impact on us on other people. In the storm we need a safe place – a place where we know that we will be accepted and valued and listened to.

People need People

There is no getting away from the fact that people need people. We are soothed and comforted when we are in the presence of another person who is empathic and caring.

Where is your Quiet Place?

I wonder where your quiet place is – are you able to find a quiet place in your mind? I wonder too what might help if this is difficult for you?