I wonder if you can imagine your life to be like a brick wall.
Each layer is dependent on the other to ensure its stability. The mortar that holds each brick together needs to be a solid consistency; the bricks need to be laid with just the right amount of mortar to hold each one steadfast next to the other.
As with our brick wall, our lives must have a solid foundation consisting of our basic needs, such as food, water, clothing, shelter, and love. With each layer we learn how to improve what we are doing; we acquire new skills; we gain new independence.
The next layer would be our safety – health, family dynamics, respect, and care.
This is followed by our sense of belonging – family, friendships, and intimacy.
With this is built our self-esteem – confidence, achievement, and respect for and from others.
And finally, we have our own sense of self – acceptance, morality, drive, motivation, and our sense of worth.
If there is any part of this brick wall that isn’t a solid or stable structure, the chances are the brick wall may collapse … maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sometime in the future.
Sometimes you can’t see the cracks until they begin to gape.
You can’t always go back and rip that brick wall down, but you can review the damage and underpin or point areas to give it security.
That is what psychotherapy is. We look at the areas of the past that we may not always see on face value, but which are affecting the stability of our thinking process, the way we are able to live our lives, and sometimes of our sense of self. We then resecure this by changing our viewpoint.
Sometimes, something may happen to us as a child, or our basic needs may not be fulfilled. As a young child we see this from a child’s viewpoint. Our understanding and our belief system are limited: we may believe the situation to be the ‘norm’, and we can sometimes hold the memories of it in a childlike manner throughout our lives. This can damage the way we look at things today.
In our lives we cannot go back and rebuild the foundations and the way we were raised; we cannot erase those memories or change what was done to us at the time.
In psychotherapy, we look back at the events that are the cracks in our wall; we examine them and identify the perception of them in our adult mind. We may then be able to reprogramme the way we think about these events and change our perception.
By doing this, we can recognise that we can’t change what has happened in the past. We cannot rewrite history … what we can do is change the way we think about it today and the way we allow it to affect the rest of our lives.