Many people do not accept their own feelings – especially the negative ones. When you feel angry, you might tell yourself, “oh no, I shouldn’t feel angry about it”, or maybe “why do I feel so lonely, what’s wrong with me” ?
But the key to mental health (or suffering a bit less at least), is accepting your own feelings as they are, and not judging yourself for having them. That doesn’t mean they’ll suddenly go away, but just that you realise that its OK to be feeling them, there’s nothing wrong about them.
You need to recognise that you feel a certain way for a reason, so your feelings are valid. Most of the time we have very little (if any) control of our emotions – they appear within us without our choosing them, they are not our creations. So we cannot really judge ourselves as ‘bad’, or stupid for having them.
Nor can we judge ourselves if we’re finding it hard to deal with those feelings – we often think “oh why can’t I cope with this, I’m useless” etc. Well there’s not many people who can easily handle their emotions all the time. The truth is, we’re all struggling with our feelings, few of us really feels in control of them.
So there’s no easy solution for coping, but accepting who you are and what you’re feeling (however painful that might be) is a good start. There’s nothing wrong with you for feeling like you do.
UPDATE – We’ve now opened the forum – please feel free to use it if you might need support with an alcohol problem.
We’re thinking about starting a free support forum for people with alcohol problems, where members can write about what’s happening to them or offer words of advice for other members.
But what we need to do first is find out how much demand there is for this – there’s plenty of people posting comments on the site, and getting support from other readers already, but a proper forum would no doubt work better for developing a real community feel.
We asked people to vote for whether they would use a forum like this or not. The poll is now closed, but here’s how they voted over a two week period:
Yes – 96% (49 votes)
No – 2% (1 vote)
Maybe – 2% (1 vote)
There’s a campaign being run in the UK right now to improve access to talking therapies (like counselling, psychologists etc.). At the moment, waiting lists for NHS funded help can be up to 18 months. This is just not acceptable.
The government is holding a funding review very shortly – so a group of UK charities (including the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, and the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health) have organised an online petition asking for more funding to be made available for this area.
If you’re a UK resident then please sign it now at www.weneedtotalk.org.uk/petition.asp
Update – This petition has now been presented to the government.
The UK National Health Service has officially recognised the effectiveness of online therapy.
Cognitive Therapy is now being offered via private chatroom as part of the NHS services, in an attempt to provide for people who find it difficult to come to a clinic for conventional counselling.
An online chatroom can be used as a private space where a person can get support and therapeutic help from a professional. This is especially useful for people with alcohol or addiction problems, who may be too embarrassed to see a therapist or counsellor face to face. You don’t have to take time to get to someone’s clinic, they can come to you via your computer.
In all other respects, the nature of online therapy or counselling is the same – the same techniques are used, the same issues dealt with. If you’re not sure how this would actually help, read more about how online therapy works.
There are many ways to quit drinking -
- you can check in to a rehab if you’ve got the time,
- you can try taking ‘Antabuse‘ (which will make you feel very ill if you drink anything alcoholic),
- or maybe just try white-knuckle will-power,
- you could go to AA meetings and meet a few people with similar problems,
- then maybe work through the 12 steps?
- you could become a gym bunny and spend all day working out to distract yourself (not going to happen, right?),
- you might want to try Kudzu (a herbal supplement which helps you cut down how much alcohol you want to drink),
- best of all though, you can try the most convenient help available – online one-to-one counselling.
Online counselling will help you to quit drinking by encouraging you to change some aspects of your lifestyle, by getting you to look at the emotional and cognitive aspects of your habit, helping you to deal with anxiety or stress a bit better and by giving you some easy, practical tips to cut down the amount of alcohol you drink on a daily basis. It is probably the best option for those who are abusing alcohol, but who are not dependent alcoholics. (see: Am I an alcoholic?)
To quit drinking you first have to ask the question – “WHY am I drinking so much?” Our counselling service will help you to answer that.
The cognitive therapy approach to alcohol counselling is not concerned with analysing your childhood, or finding out if you have an ‘addictive personality‘, nor does it force you into a one-size-fits-all step by step solution, like Alcoholics Anonymous does.
An alcohol problem is not just a habitual behaviour, but also a habitual way of thinking. So the cognitive approach to counselling offers you a way of understanding how your thoughts influence your feelings, and how both of these might cause your problems. You can begin to see what the individual elements are which make up your addiction.
Once you’re more informed about yourself (rather than just acting on auto-pilot – the ‘habit’), then you can make changes in the way you think about your life, about yourself, about alcohol. But only the changes that you choose to make, you will not be instructed what to change, because at the end of the day you know yourself better than any counsellor or therapist does.
Of course there are some techniques and tricks which have been found to help – ways of changing your habits, and you may be given some suggestions. But counselling is about helping you to redevelop your strengths so you can solve your own problems. It’s not about being given a set of answers, it’s about discovering your own.
You will probably want to make changes to your other behaviour too – modifications to your lifestyle so that you can deal with anxiety, ease your depression, or cope with stress a bit more easily. So that you can relax without a drink, so you can find healthier, more productive ways to spend your time.
As a combined approach, counselling and cognitive therapy cover the internal aspects of your addiction and will help you to change your behaviour too.
Get in touch with us now.
The process of changing your habits towards alcohol is not something that happens overnight. You are learning new skills to replace your old behaviours, and this will take some time. How long it takes of course varies from person to person.
Firstly you have to decide how you will know when you have changed? What will be the signs that you have been successful? These are questions that most people find difficult to answer. Ok, so you don’t drink so much any more, you feel a bit more clear-headed and happier – but have you made the changes in your life that you really wanted at the start?
So, to answer the main question another way – you might well see reductions in your level of consumption within a week or two, but that may not mean you have made enough changes to sustain that improvement.
Usually when people decide to seek help for their alcohol problems, it is not just the actual level of their drinking that bothers them, it’s their emotional problems, their ability to cope with the stress in their lives, the number of crises they create. So reducing consumption is only one part of the overall changes someone might be hoping for.
So perhaps the initial question is a little too vague to be answered accurately. Being more specific in your expectations will lead to more informative answers. So maybe ask some questions like these instead:
“How long will it take me to learn other ways to relax?”
“How soon can I expect to communicate better with my family?”
“When will I be able to get through a whole day without even thinking about a drink?”
“Will I feel that I’m a good person again soon?”