This week we split up into small groups to discuss how we could use counselling theory to understand our own personal history, and to reflect on what we have learned about the theories so far to help understand events in our life, and our responses to those events.

Studying theory has definitely made me fully aware of how the past impacts on the present, and also the future. I mentioned core beliefs in relation to how they formed aspects of my personality last week, and this week they are prevalent again, but this time I’m thinking about how they were formed in the first place. The belief that is foremost in my mind is the one in which I would be removed from the group if I behaved in a way that upset the rest of the group. My Dad leaving our family unit when I was young definitely contributed to the formation of this belief – as at the time I was under the impression that he was forced out of the group rather than him leaving of his own accord. For a long time I would seek acceptance from everyone in a group so as to not be rejected, and I’d do this by being far too agreeable, even to my own detriment. I often ended up doing things I didn’t really want to do just because I went along with something that someone said!

This core belief could also be construed as an external locus of evaluation, a concept from Person-centred Counselling. I would always put others above myself, and look to them for approval before doing anything drastic. I had day-to-day autonomy, but when it came to larger things, I would defer to others. I had tried to break out of this system before, like going to college to do an IT course, but I always self-sabotaged. I would rationalise not escaping by thinking that even if I tried hard, I would fail. I would always be kind of relieved that it fell through as well to be honest, it really was as if there were two forces pulling me in opposite directions – one telling me that I deserved more, the other telling me to stay in my comfort zone.

Was it my id telling me to stay comfortable and have a nice, simple, easy life while my superego chided me for not doing more with my life like a parent would? Or was it my id that wanted to go and attack the world with vigour while my superego wanted me to remain safe at home?

I was always told I was good at drawing when I was younger, but I never believed anyone that said it. I thought they were lying. Would this be denial? Anyway, I didn’t pick up a pencil for ten years or so, but out of the blue one day, I had an urge to draw. I enjoyed it, felt like I was improving and I was definitely enjoying it – I even bought a graphics tablet for my computer so I could do some digital art. I drew some pictures, got them printed onto canvases and gave them as gifts to people. My brother, friends, work colleagues, I even invented some cartoon characters and drew them up for my son’s nursery. I was looking to escape again, this time using my art as a springboard. But my wife told me that I shouldn’t, as although my work was good, we couldn’t afford me to do that because of the mortgage, even though I intended to carry on at my day-job and do this I my spare time. Since then I’ve not touched any drawing materials, apart from doing doodles with my son*. I see now that this was a result of me having an external locus of evaluation. She said I wasn’t good enough, and I believed her.

*I have actually picked up artists materials and done some meaningful art twice since then, both times on the Level 2 course – the mask we made on the workshop weekend, and the Self-puzzle.

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