Wilton Centre psychotherapist says it pays to talk
Psychotherapist Sharon McMahon advises people not to bottle-up their issues
People that operate in the cut-and-thrust world of business should recognise the importance of talking through their issues according to a Wilton Centre-based psychotherapist.
Sharon McMahon, who operates her practice out of the Centre, explains that worrying about what could go wrong in business – cash flow, customer base or colleagues – can create very damaging symptoms of panic and stress that can cause untold harm if they are not addressed.
She said: “Battling demons is part of the human condition. Our big brains allow us to be creative, to imagine and fantasise. This can occasionally go horribly wrong: we can apply all of that creativity to catastrophising issues that might never happen.
“Our unconscious mind doesn’t differentiate between reality and our darkest imaginings. If you’ve ever woken sweaty, heart-pounding and wide-eyed from what was only a dream, you will know this to be true. The same awful feeling can be created with work issues, and that’s not good.
“Those feelings and symptoms associated with panic were original designed to help us fight or flee danger. So, when sabre toothed tigers were the enemy, chemicals like cortisol, the stress hormone, didn’t linger in our system for long but enemies of modern business life are very different.
“Cash flow, contract negotiations and deadlines don’t require the same blast of energy as running for your life, but our brains haven’t quite caught up with that news and we spend more time than ever feeling tense, looking out for dangers that might never happen. This puts stress on our system and, ironically, diminishes our ability to deal with real issues when they arise.”
Elizabeth Kuebler Ross, a psychologist specialising in bereavement found that real issues do arise in the work environment.
She recognised that ‘little deaths’ – events less significant than the death of a loved one, such as loss of a lucrative contract, fluctuating exchange rates, or having to accommodate an aggressive new competitor - can still impose significant pressures on people.
Sharon added: “The final twist is that none of us knows our threshold until we reach it. When we ignore symptoms of stress, we are potentially playing a dangerous game of risk with our mental wellbeing.
“Worrying about how you’re coping – or not – adds to the misery and before you know it, moods are swinging, good habits like exercise are waning and bad habits like overeating or drinking are taking over. Welcome to the downward spiral.”
Sharon advocates that people can take a simple but important step to help themselves.
“In short, we need to talk. Ideally, speak to someone you trust to keep your issue to themselves, and to listen without forcing their opinion on you, so that you have time and space to address the issue yourself. If you are not willing or able to seek out a psychotherapist then a partner, a good friend, or your GP might fit the bill. If not, try writing the problem down: even this can often create enough space for you to get a better perspective on the problem.
“Whatever approach you take, bear in mind these two things: beating yourself up about getting into this mess will only speed up that downward spiral, so be as kind to yourself as you would be to your best friend, if this were their situation. Finally, remember the sun will always come up in the morning.”
Contact Sharon McMahon at email@example.com