Writing about mental health from a feminist counselling perspective
Over the years I’ve worked with a number of people trying to make hard decisions, and these hard decisions usually boil down to this: “should I stay or should I go?” What people struggle with most is knowing whether the situation they’re in (a workplace, a relationship, etc) is one that will get better by working on or not. I watch people struggle for months and sometimes years, caught up in the distress of trying to make a decision that’s best for them.
When You Don't Like the Person You're Becoming
One question I’ve learned to ask myself in any situation I’m not sure about is “who am I being in this?” If I’m being the Nicole who is grounded, and compassionate, and alive, then it’s probably okay to continue on. If I’m starting to act in ways that don’t feel like me, or that are wrapped up in stress and scarcity, then maybe it’s time to reconsider. For one friend of mine, that’s when she knew it’s was time to leave her workplace. She didn’t like the person she was becoming – both in the ways she caught herself acting, and even in the ways she started thinking about her work. Another friend recognized that when she started feeling snappy more days than not and had a harder and harder time leaving the stress of work at work, that was enough for her. She didn’t like how it was affecting her closest relationships and she didn’t like how much of her life was getting consumed by work. It left very little room for her – in her words, work started to edge her out of her own life.
Making the Decision When You're Ready
Intimate relationships seem harder to leave than any other. We might know that we’re not ourselves in a particular relationship, but it’s still hard to let go. I’ve often worked through a process with people where they’ve gained clarity about what they need to do, but they’re just not ready to let the relationship go. And when we know we’re not ready, the best thing we can do is be compassionate with ourselves, allowing change to happen when the time is right. In the meantime, we can ask ourselves, “What would help me feel more ready to let this go? Is there something I need to say or do in this relationship before I’m ready to move on?”
Ultimately, most people don’t reach a point where they feel 100% certain about a decision, or absolutely ready. Instead, we feel ready enough, clear enough, and centered enough to go forward.
Whole Body Decision-Making
So, how do we make decisions that are centered, clear, and in line with who we are? We're all trying to make our way within a culture that teaches us not to listen to ourselves. When we’re not listening to ourselves, though, we have to base our decisions off what other people value or believe, and that doesn't always work out very well.
To move forward, we need to consciously work at coming home to ourselves. There's a way of making decisions that involves listening to our heads, hearts, and bodies. I call this whole body decision-making, and it involves reconnecting with all parts of ourselves. The idea is that instead of ignoring or suppressing conflicting parts of ourselves, we bring everything into the light, and then try to find a way forward that honors our whole truth.
If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get my free PDF guide on whole body decision-making. In it, we use mindfulness to explore what your head, heart, and body have to share.
A little bit more on the newsletter: This can be a great way to get to know me and stay connected with my work. I send out emails about a dozen times a year with handy guides I've created, information about the latest groups and workshops I'm offering, news about community resources, and a curated collection of the best articles and resources related to mental health from a feminist counselling perspective. And remember, you can unsubscribe if it no longer works for you.
Nicole Perry is a Registered Psychologist and writer with a private practice in Edmonton. Her approach is collaborative and feminist at its heart. She specializes in healing trauma, building shame resilience, and setting boundaries.
About the Blog
This space will provide information, stories, and answers to big questions about some of my favorite topics - boundaries, burnout, trauma, self compassion, and shame resilience - all from a feminist counselling perspective. It's also a space I'm exploring and refining new ideas.
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