Paul Gordon on finding our feelings in therapy

“I suspect we could all tell a story similar to that told by the playwright David Hare recalling his childhood in post-war Britain: 

‘In the other half of our semi-detached lived a solicitor and his wife. She had perfectly mastered all the bourgeois rituals which we had rather less convincingly sought to mimic. She knew the rules better than anyone. She even laid the table for breakfast the moment supper was finished. But by the time she took off her clothes on the wintry Bexhill beach and walked out to drown herself in the English Channel, it was evident that the generational tactic of peace-at-all-costs was not really yielding the promised dividend.’

Therapy seeks to give feelings their proper place, urges us to acknowledge their existence as a part of life, to accept them as William James put it, as “Gifts to us, from sources sometimes low and sometimes high; but almost always non-logical and beyond our control… Gifts, either of the flesh or of the spirit”. We accept them so that their power over us may be less terrifying. It is part of who we are today to feel anger and fear and sadness and envy and hatred, as well as desire and joy and pleasure. The value of therapy lies in recognising that one has feelings, that we are not responsible for what we feel and that we are a lot less likely to act upon such feelings to our own and others’ detriment if we are able to find the right words for them, to find an appropriate expression of them. It sounds terribly simple and in many ways it is, but like most simple things it’s also highly complex if we pause to think about it. The simple fact that we are feeling beings and that we cannot be responsible for what we feel is often nothing other than a revelation to the person concerned.”

‘The Hope of Therapy’ Paul Gordon

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

This entry was posted in acceptance, anger, awakening, communication, conditions of worth, consciousness, cultural questions, Disconnection, embodiment, emotions, empathy, empowerment, encounter, fear, growth, healing, human condition, identity, power and powerlessness, presence, relationship, resilience, sadness & pain, self, self concept, self esteem, suicide, surrender, therapeutic growth, therapeutic relationship, vulnerability and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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