Many people come to therapy because a life problem (relationship, work, family) or personal difficulty (e.g. stress, OCD, anger) has become too difficult to manage alone. While therapy provides a great outlet in which to gain new perspectives and explore new coping mechanisms, part of the process can also be about taking stock of what resources the person has at their disposal in their everyday life that can also help. Recognising and drawing on these resources outside of the therapy hour can be an extremely valuable part of managing the issue.
But what do I mean when I talk about available resources? This can refer to many things. Firstly it can be aspects of your own personality or behaviour that you recognise as helpful or that have helped you in a similar situation in the past. In a way, this type of resource is about honouring your own personal strengths and life skills. This could refer to one’s ability to get up and keep going (resilience) in the face of life pressures. It could be your sense of humour. It might be your willingness to ask for help when you need it. It could also be your ability to express your feelings. Have a think about what personal resources you draw on when you are faced with problems in life. You might be surprised at just how resourceful you actually are.
Another avenue of support could be other people. Do you have an especially trusted friend or friends that have helped you in the past? Is there a family member who is understanding and can listen? For those who are religious there may be a clergy member whom you know and trust that can provide additional support. Are you a member of any group or club that you find particularly meaningful and that provides a feeling of connectedness when times are tough?
Activities and hobbies can also be extremely useful resources. Going to the park, photography, hill walking, running, nature walks, meditation, art, attending mass, a trip to the museum, a warm bath, a cinema trip, a get together with friends etc can all be relaxing, stress relieving activities that help us get through difficult life spots. The important point is to recognise what works for you and to ensure that you incorporate these activities into your life that little bit more.
To summarise- life resources can be:
Skills, personality traits or behaviours that have helped you in the past
Other people who provide support
Activites and hobbies that you enjoy
Take some time to think about your available life resources and supports. Maybe jot them down. Consider how many resources you have available to you both within and outside of yourself. This can be a very helpful exercise in reminding you that even when life is very difficult, you are not without skills and resources to cope.
Coming to speak with a trained, professional therapist can be one additional resource when you are finding life especially difficult.