Listen to yourself

Standing in a queue the other day, I couldn’t help but hear snippets of conversations round me. All I could think of was the fact that we Irish are a depressing lot.

Times aren’t good, but even when they were I do believe our conversations hovered around the same topics. If there was a list of the top ten conversations in Ireland it would definitely include the following, (in no particular order, except the first one perhaps.)  

  • The weather
  • Aches and pains
  • The neighbours
  • Tragedy and disasters  
  • Illness and death
  • Sport
  • Losing weight (if you’re a woman) Losing/making money (if you’re a man)
  • If I were you (dishing out advice)
  • The cost of living

The funny thing is, we Irish rarely talk about ourselves. We don’t like talking about ourselves, unless, of course, it is to have a good old moan about how hard done by we are. There is no doubt about it…we have a ‘whinge’ gene. We love it, all that ‘poor me’ stuff that limits us. Well, the good news is we can challenge those limits. Every day we can create new thoughts and value our own worth. This may be difficult if we are in the habit of seeking the approval of others when we only need to approve of ourselves. It may also be difficult if we are struggling with personal issues. God forbid if we need some help or support. A therapist perhaps? The first reaction is “I don’t need a shrink!” The second reaction is to ‘keep it quiet.’ After all, folk might even think there is something ‘wrong’ with you.

In America, if you DON’T have a therapist there IS something wrong with you. Okay, maybe that view is slightly exaggerated and a bit over the top…however, our mental health is vital to every other part of ourselves. We need to look after it and we need to address it, whether that is with a friend, a granny, your cat or a counsellor. It doesn’t matter as long as you get it off your chest.

I worked as a counsellor for years and I saw at first hand the benefits of being able to, confidentially, address personal issues. I also believe not everyone needs a counsellor. If you have good coping skills and can roll with the punches you are well equipped to take what life throws at you. If you listen to your own inner voice, trust your instincts and follow your own radar you are probably very accepting of life the way it is.

Sometimes, when facing a particularly difficulty it may be enough to just go easy on yourself and leave yourself alone. What if you left yourself alone for one day and cared for yourself like a vulnerable child learning to walk? When a child is learning to walk we don’t tell that child “My God, you are so stupid! You will never be able to walk because you are useless and no good.”  No. You would speak loving, encouraging words, clapping and motivating that child every step of the way. Just because we are adults it doesn’t mean we do not need encouragement.

Life has a way of knocking us down again and again and again. It doesn’t matter how many times you are knocked down. What matters is that you get up again and look after yourself with love and extreme care. It also helps to stay positive, so next time you are standing in a queue have a listen…mostly to yourself.

© Aileen McGee

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