Tonight, I’d like to write to you about my experience of the previous evening, when I finally began the NHS-funded Self-Esteem course that I signed up for following the end of the CBT-based lessons in Anxiety Management. This time, they’ve extended the course duration from 6 to a total of 8 weeks, which should allow people to get more form their chosen course (apparently, it’s a common ‘complaint’ amongst past attendees).
Where I had to drive to Portishead (very unfamiliar territory) for the previous course; this one is held in Weston-super-Mare… Which should be very familiar but, I still find it easy to get lost once you stray from the seafront. In actual fact, this location is within walking distance of the beach, which implies that I might well try and spend a small amount of time there after a future session, since we should still have reasonable daylight beyond 20.30 for the next month and maybe two.
It was a town I recognised but in a building that I did not know. A different leader for the course and I’d first have to find myself somewhere to park (Google helped with that, after taking the suggestions of a friend who knows the area very well). I noticed the café was closed but a door to the right was still ajar. I was greeted by a man who looked like a ‘Nervous Derren Brown‘ and welcome in to a room with a dozen people already sat down and filling out the compulsory questionnaires that we are required to complete each week in order to track our ‘well-being’ as the weeks go by.
When I did the anxiety course, I too often felt as though I was going back over old ground. I did learn some useful CBT techniques for coping with certain situations but, after focusing on ‘anxiety’ for the best part of three months at the end of last year; I felt like I could’ve gained more from a different course and the reason I chose self-esteem is because I’m already aware of certain issues I have (partially from counselling)… A big one for me (well, one that certainly bothers and concerns me) is that I’m unable to fully accept comments and appraisals from all but one person in my life (that one person, I see a being ‘sacred’ in some way). Whether it’s at work or what; I have to question their intentions; whey they’re suddenly saying these things and what they really want… It’s not as if I don’t feel deserving of these words. In fact, I often feel like they’re stating the obvious, which I see as patronising towards my own intelligence.
Please note that this is not personal with anyone. It possibly is more severe with certain individuals. I know that one of my friends reads this blog and I’d like them to know that I have found myself ‘softening’ my thoughts this year with the more time and effort I’ve made towards getting to know and to trust my friends. Perhaps I naturally allow this one woman’s thoughts to pass through my security system because of my own feelings for her and how I want these kind of things from her…
We started looking at the ‘Vicious Cycle’ and how it affects our self-esteem (high or low), which links between Thoughts, Behavious, Physical Symptoms and Emotions (we did an identical one in the anxiety course). We later briefly moved on to how Drive, Soothing and Threat affects us. This is something I’m still struggling to comprehend as we only touched on it briefly but we should be delving in to it more next week.
Our course leader did seem nervous in the beginning, as was just about everyone else in the same room (it was a bit ‘strange’ being sat on the ground floor, with the door ajar to pedestrians and passers-by, because of all the heat). As more ‘patients’ began to speak out and share their responses to what was being written and explained on the board, he seemed to grow in to his role and became very engaging with the entire group, which felt like quite at experience. Before that, I found myself constantly comparing him (psychologically) against the woman who had led the other course I did; somehow who I had found that I could open up to and trust with my secrets.
He shared a very interesting belief about group work in a therapy-type situation… Because these courses are not “Group Therapy” as such. We are not asked or expected to reveal our secrets, pasts and problems. There is no obligation to speak a single word throughout the eight-weeks if you do not want to. We leant together, in the classroom and then take that home and put it in to practice in our own time. Anyway, he compared our situation to one-to-one therapy or counselling, insisting that you could spend a long time doing that without realising that you truly are not alone… In a group environment, one person will step up to raise a concern or common fear they hold (perhaps of how others might interpret them) and, even if you don’t share that one within yourself; there will be others in the same room who are nodding in agreement.
Later on, we were asked to think of 5 qualities that we would look for in another person. We were asked to consider the option of a partner but, I imagine you could use the same with regards to a parent, friend, etc. Then, we had to briefly consider the opposites of each item (eg. Trust Vs. Untrustworthy) and to think about where we would place ourselves on a line drawn between each pairing. It’s so interesting that I might even attempt this in a separate post this week! 😉
I’ve probably forgotten some things but that’s otherwise all I was hoping to cover with this evaluation of Week One.
I’m feeling very positive about it and I felt positive when leaving the centre last night. It could more than just ‘a place to go’ and ‘something to do’ on a Monday night… I feel like it may really help me. I may’ve said something similar when I started the anxiety course but I truly believe it this time. I’ve always found that talking about anxiety can pull me down deeper. Self-esteem appears different. It’s almost ‘unexplored’, in my experience.
Thanks for reading. 🙂