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  • Writer's pictureHilary McMeeking

Feeling Empty

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

When clients come to counselling it's not uncommon for us to return to their childhood and what it was like growing up in their family of origin. Some clients say they had a great childhood; they wanted for nothing, their parents both worked full time to provide them with holidays, the latest toys and a comfortable home. In many ways they were lucky because there are also clients who had none of these things.

However the adults who know that their parents worked hard to give them everything they needed know that their parents were good and cared for them materially. Yet this client feels there was something missing and they can't quite put their finger on what it was. Some have already come up with an (incorrect assumption) that they, as children, weren't good enough.

When you were a child did you ask for an expensive break in the sun, or did you have just as much fun in the summer holidays in the garden with the hosepipe sprinkler?

Sometimes before counselling, but more often during, it we begin to wonder what it can be that makes us feel empty inside. What has brought us to the counselling room may be exhaustion, stress, and overwork. We might be a perfectionist or have habits of doing too much ourselves, unconsciously trying to be noticed, appreciated and in many ways loved. In a way our parents taught us two fold: working hard is good and, this is the bit that takes a while to sink in, if I work hard you will notice that I exist. The child of busy parents who work all hours and are exhausted at bedtime knows that you need to try very hard to be noticed by a parent who has given everything to their day job. It's not your parents fault, they most likely learned the same patterns from their own family of origin.

So what is the feeling of emptiness? It's the big hole that wasn't filled by acceptance and attention.

Can counselling help? Absolutely! Your counsellor may be the first person who ever offers you unconditional positive regard (that is acceptance for who you are regardless of what you do and say), in this way you can start to feel accepted, perhaps for the first time, for just being you. Together you can explore where these behaviours started and why you are holding behaviours that are making you stressed and feeling ill. You can work towards identifying the root and start to be able to rebuild your life in the way you'd really like it to be.

Nurture your emotional health today.

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