I have noticed a theme in sessions lately. It seems many of us are “living in our heads”. What exactly is this, you ask?
It is the circular thinking that goes on in our daily lives that we keep to ourselves.
It usually comes up in a session like this: a client and I will be talking about a certain topic and/or issue that they are working on in treatment. Then something will be said, almost as an aside or, at the time, what seems like a small detail, of the bigger topic at hand.
I either ask about the small detail then, or make a mental note to ask about it later on…..
“So, earlier you mentioned something about flirting with your ex-wife whenever she comes over to pick up the kids….”
And it’s always so interesting to both myself and my client to find that we are now talking about something that the person would never have thought to bring up in a session.
The “small” details of our inner lives.
It’s not the original reason why people come to therapy in the first place and not what they presented with in the beginning of treatment; and actually, it isn’t what’s being worked on in the therapy. That is, until it comes up….
I was telling a friend the other day about my starting this blog. She interestingly asked what sorts of things I was going to talk about? I was explaining how I wanted to speak from my heart about what it’s like to be on the “other side” of the couch as a therapist; how I wanted to talk about my thoughts and insights I’ve gleaned from clients over the years.
I said to her that I think that many, many of us “live alone in our heads”. She reacted with “ohmygoditotallyliveinmyhead!” She concurred and said “I have all these thoughts, too, and I don’t tell them to anyone; I wouldn’t even think to….”.
Do we need to always talk about our private thoughts? No. Do we always need to psychoanalyze ourselves? No. But I do notice with myself that when I am thinking about something over and over and it’s not going anywhere; if I’m not getting any relief or resolve from the thoughts- that it does help to try to become consciously aware of them.
“Ok, I am really upset about seeing pictures of all my friends at a party on Facebook.” I wasn’t there. Wasn’t invited. Didn’t even know about it! And I’m hurt.
How do we become aware of our circular thoughts? Try to spend some time meditating or just be alone with yourself. This might be just 5 minutes of quiet. Turn off all electronics, get comfy, and try to notice your thoughts and the feelings that might ensue. I find that if a worry, issue, or feeling keeps coming up for me then I need to “purge” it. And, for me, that process is talking to someone. Whether it be my husband, my sister, a friend, colleague. After I’ve “talked it out” it almost always takes away that feeling of having it all stuck in my head. It’s not that the thought or feeling goes away, just that I seem to have a little more clarity about the issues.
Talking it out is my process. And what is your process? Do you meditate? Or maybe for you it’s writing or journaling. Maybe it’s going for a long walk or run. Whatever you are most attracted to, give it a try. Spend a few minutes thinking about your daily concerns, worries, ruminations. Then take that next step to moving the thoughts out from your head and into another medium.
So the next time something bothers you and you’re all up in your head about it, and believe me, there WILL be a next time- you may have one or two tools for coping