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The best way out is always through... (Robert Frost)

Updated: 3 days ago

On Robert Frost's famous quote.

It's so easy to look for the quickest, most soothing or most comfortable route 'out' of stress, misery, despair, loneliness, grief or anxiety. It's natural to want to attempt to make a quick exit - to go around, over or under our problem or issue, and sometimes we just don't go anywhere at all in order to avoid the discomfort that comes with going 'through', facing our troubles head on. What we often overlook, however, is the consistent and unrelenting discomfort that not facing our problems causes us, which can appear as somatic and physical complaints (migraines, back ache, IBS etc), depressed mood/motivation/energy, feeling numb, anxiety and/or compulsive behaviors (over-working/eating or restricting calories/overly risky behaviour).

What are we trying to avoid in these moments? Perhaps it's one or some of the following... conflict, challenge, awkward conversations, stepping back, stepping up, saying no, letting go, saying yes, standing firm, being flexible, taking responsibility, allowing others control, being assertive, being vulnerable, standing up for others, taking a break, working hard, slowing down, putting your head above the parapit....

Some people struggle more publicly than others, but we all have our own internal challenges, together with our own individual coping mechanisms to alleviate the discomfort that comes as standard.

In therapy we talk of 'working through' issues we're experiencing, and 'processing' trauma, loss and/or grief. Though it can be tough, there is often a sense of movement, energy and healing in these moments, rather than the feelings of helplessness that often accompany avoiding those difficult feelings or situations.

And this is why understanding what we are consciously and unconsciously avoiding is central in therapy. When we work through our difficulties, understanding and exploring them, we learn so much about ourselves and we can start to face what we have been denying, displacing or diminishing. It's not always the easiest path, but the rewards of autonomy, self-worth and finding your sense of Self is so worth it!

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