Why am I not in control of my emotions!?
When I have my first session with a client who does not have a history of poor mental health they often have a lot of questions about the uncontrollable experience of crying, or panic, or fear that they feel has no triggering circumstance. They might be aware of the stressors they are under but don’t believe one thing could be causing the issue. In that case, they are right. These experiences can be caused by a variety of issues but there are two that are the most commonly occurring. The first is what I would call an “intersection of stressors”. This is a variety of difficult circumstances that are overlapping such as a death, a birth, renovation or redundancy. The other is a slow accumulation of stressors such as financial debt, work stress or the compassion fatigue that comes with caring for the declining health of a loved one.
My go to phrase for explaining these uncontrollable emotions is that “your brain decides for you when it’s had enough”. With highly motivated individuals, their minds can do an incredible job of pushing through pain and suffering to achieve a sought after goal. Unfortunately if the brain is not cared for during that process then those people will start experiencing symptoms of burn out. It’s the brain putting the hand brake on, because the mind refuses to self-care.
Now this might not be a normal experience for the client, but it is not an abnormal experience for people under these types of stress. The goal in my sessions in these cases is to schedule self care or engage in a recovery process in order to help the brain reset. In highly motivated individuals achieving this can be very difficult due to the habit of treating the brain as if it is always theirs to control, or that experiencing a mental health issue is a sign of weakness and thereby denial their only strategy. Everyone needs rest, some more than others. How good are you at noticing the signs that you need a break and what do you sacrifice in order to make your career and life sustainable. Due to circumstances out of our control we don’t all feel like we get the luxury of self-care. However, you might be surprised about what self-care can look like once there is an analysis undertaken of how a person got to their breaking point and having someone objective to consider all of their circumstances as a team.
Just finally, I think it is probably an important take-away that one of the foremost obstacles to self-care is guilt.