Facing the fear…

I don’t like conflict. So much so that I avoid it by usually not saying anything at difficult times, even if I disagree with what the other person is saying. I stick my head in the sand and will often go weeks avoiding making telephone calls, sending emails, letters, what ever. It’s the fear of rejection or causing upset or anger. I think as I was sheltered from upset and protected when I was little, it led to me fearing it in later life.

Since restarting our business last year, I’ve done lots of networking, been to lots of events, handed out leaflets and sold ourselves through social media. I love meeting new people and finding out about what they do and enjoy. I can talk about what I do, art and design, with passion and enthusiasm with others, and make great connections with people who want me to create art and design for them.

And then I can stall. When it comes to calling people back or following up by email, I put it off. I look for other things to do, work on projects that aren’t as important, do housework, anything rather than contact people about working with them. If it’s someone I know, it’s not an issue and I just get on with it. But new people and potential clients? It’s that fear of rejection or causing upset.

After an excellent Skype yesterday, the conclusion was reached that if I could not overcome this fear and make calls when needed, I might as well give up the business. If I don’t follow up on leads, meetings, what have you, we won’t make any money, and I may as well take up stacking shelves for a living.

I don’t want to do that.

This afternoon, I wrote scripts for the calls I had to make. I also scripted what I would say if it went to answer phone. I read them a few times to get used to the flow, making sure I got what I wanted from the call, then made them. The first call was answered, and I handled it really well. I like the person, as we are both creatives, so the conversation flowed nicely and naturally. We arranged to meet next week to plan the project we are working on, and there is potential for even more work as well. Really happy.

The second call went to answer phone, so I used my scripted response, and will await a reply. Again, what I had written works well for, reassuring the client and ensuring that I get what I need too.

After making the calls, I was buzzing with adrenaline and positivity. I had taken on a big issue that has been with me for years, and the outcome was even better than I had expected. I’m proud of myself, and ready for the next challenge. At the moment I feel like I can do anything…

Day One…

I enrolled on my Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling this morning. It’s a nice feeling starting a course, especially when it’s the start of getting another step closer to becoming a counsellor and being able to help young people through difficult times.

There was no clear idea of what the day would hold, as it was the first day of the course. For all we knew, we would enrol, have a coffee and go home. It was really nice to start as we mean to go on, and get our hands dirty, so to speak, and do a full day’s study. We spent the morning recapping the basics of person centred therapy, which is descriptive, and how it differs to other modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is prescriptive. We have a really lovely group, as, bar one, we studied Level 3 together. Our ‘new’ member has fitted right in, and it’s really good getting to know the others in the group better. Two years of study and counselling is going to be exciting and hard, as we will be dealing with some very difficult issues. Some of them will be personal to us.

We have all grown so much as people through Level 3, and the growth through Level 4 will be incredible. It won’t be easy as we will be dealing with very delicate issues which some of us have held onto for years. Issues that run to our very cores and can define who we are and how we act and interact. Already, I have made a very big confession to some of the group about an issue I have held onto for years.

We learn the craft of counselling by working in trios, one counsellor, one client, one observer. This will be throughout the first year, as in the second year, we start counselling real clients in an agency setting. We have to have 100 hours of counselling under our belts before we complete the course.

I purposely chose to observe in our first trio, I was avoiding being a counsellor, as I am unsure of my counselling skills. I understand theory quite well, but haven’t always taken the best approach to practical counselling skills, as I tend to try and ‘fix’ people rather than listen, reflect and summarise. I made a conscious effort in our second trio to do better as a counsellor and use the skills that we are learning, and was really happy with how I did. When it came to my turn be client, I made another conscious decision to talk about an issue which has affected me for years, namely guilt and how it affects me.

I’m not going to go into details here, as I don’t feel it’s appropriate and it’s personal, but I am really happy that I have. It is a huge step forwards for me personally, and my tutor is really happy as our course is a perfect place to explore these kind of issues. We all need to learn about ourselves and what makes us tick so that we are better equipped to help others deal with their issues.

A really good start to a new chapter.

Megalithic musings..

Not sure if there’s a pattern on here yet, and not even sure if there should be one. I think this site is becoming my space to think and express my thoughts to the world.

Last week was hard work, physically at least. There were quite a few business events, and sorting out things for my course kept me busy. Valentine’s was an odd day, with a mixture of feelings, predominately lovely, but the morning was tough, and I had to deal with anger issues and feelings of resentment. Recycling lots of book for charity and a serious amount of cleaning and tidying were amazing therapy, as were a long hot bath, wine and a wonderful meal that my wife made for us.

Whilst I was in the bad patch on Valentine’s morning, I was listening to some really heavy music. Music is incredibly therapeutic for me, even more so since I’ve been making it. Very heavy music takes me to another place, and quite literally blows away all of the detritus, negative feelings and emotions. I spent quite a while making some really heavy loud music on Sunday, which sounds bloody fantastic (to me) through headphones really loud. It’s quite liberating creating and listening stuff like this. I heartily recommend it.

I can only play for a short while at present, as my fingers have softened off from not playing ukulele for a while. At present, I’m making the sounds heavier and more messed up by adding distortion and amplification through my PC. At some point, this’ll go live, and there will be a new amp, mics, pedals and a repaired ukulele. For now, learning to play heavier and fstaer again is my goal, and making my fingers tougher again!

Thanks for listening.

Never stop learning…

I got a letter from the college I’ve been studying (and used to work at…) at today, offering me a place on the CPCAB Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling Level 4 course. I’m really happy about this, as this is another big step to my becoming a qualified counsellor.

I started studying counselling 2 years ago, when the head of the counselling faculty recommended that I took the Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Studies, as there wasn’t an assertiveness course at the college, and this would be a good start. This was a short ten-week course, and as I progressed through it, the modality we studied, person centred therapy, clicked with me and made such sense. It was so natural and intuitive, and felt like this was something I’d known for years. I also had a new hero, Carl Rogers, the father of person centred therapy.

By the end of the course, I’d made some really good friends, and more importantly, realised I could help others. This was reinforced by one of my friends telling me to go onto Level 3 and become a counsellor, as there aren’t that many male counsellors, especially those that work with children…

See, after we’d been on holiday with our grandson, who was 9 at the time, I started researching child development. Our grandson was behaving like a stereotypical moody teenager at the time, and I really struggled with this. After some online research, I found out that puberty starts early with lots of younger children, around 9. This must be really scary, as it’s bad enough when you’re older dealing with mental and physical changes, but imagine going through it at such an early age… Now, the reason I’d been recommended going on an assertiveness course at my college (I was working there at the time…), was that I had issues dealing with disruptive ‘bad’ behaviour from teenagers, and needed to learn better strategies to deal with this kind of behaviour. They are going through massive changes just like our grandson was.

So at the time I started Level 3, in September 2013, I had decided that my focus was to work with younger people, and help them through this time of amazing transformation from child to adult. I got three weeks in and had a complete breakdown, and was signed off work for three months, due to mental health issues. My plan to become a counsellor had stalled, though our lovely head of faculty told me it was fine, and that I could restart the course the following year. Phew.

Level 3 Counselling was amazing. I learnt so much, about myself, about others, how we are all different and all have issues. It was also empowering for me as I became the only male student in the group, and I really learnt how to talk to and understand women as equals, not that I’ve ever had an issue with this anyhow. The course also allowed me to be completely open and congruent with others, talking about issues which had held me back for years, viewpoints I held, and attitudes which caused me issues in the past. I felt so much better as a person in all aspects, and I finally put to bed the notion that I was stupid, as I had not done well academically in the past. Being told that my course portfolio had passed was a very proud moment, as I focussed in a way I hadn’t before, reading, checking facts, cross referencing and evidencing my work. The exam was okay, and we have to wait until April for the results, but I was really happy with how I applied myself to revising, and was confident with all of the answers I gave.

Level 4 is two years of hard work, and I’m already determined to focus really hard on my studies. We’ll start counselling others too, as we have to have at least 100 hours of counselling under our belts. It’s going to be hard, but I’m relishing the opportunity to push myself and challenge my preconceptions and attitudes. After this, I’ll be looking for a placement to start my counselling career, which will run alongside my creative one.

These are amazing times, and the best is yet to come. Thanks for reading.

Big kid…

I write another blog about my comics projects (http://anywereonline.blogspot.co.uk/), so won’t go on too much about the projects I’m working on here, as you can find out more there…

I’ve loved comics since I was tiny, my Saturday morning treat (if I’d been good) was a comic of my choice, usually one of the Marvel UK reprints, Planet of the Apes being a particular favourite. It stood to reason that I’d start writing and drawing them eventually. I had my first strip published at age 12.

12 was a pivotal age for me. It was when I decided what I was going to do for a living, to be a graphic designer. I loved drawing comics but thought it would be hard breaking into the industry, and graphic design was an easier route to follow that would allow me to be creative for a living. It was a practical decision. More recently, I wish I’d stuck to my gut instinct and become a cartoonist. Ahh, regrets…

So, after a lifetime of drawing and reading comics, I finally published two of my own last year. It’s the best thing I ever did, art-wise. Sure, they’ve not sold loads, but they have sold, and I have a fan base building. This year, the challenge is to release a new comic (PDFs to start for £2.00/$2.00) bi-monthly, with the hope of getting a small print run later in the year. My first title should be ready for the end of this month. It’s written, and I’ve drawn the first five of twenty-four pages. They’ll be six issues in this series, alongside six other titles which will be separate stories, probably stand-alone. I’m done waiting for the big break, and am making it myself. Life’s too short right?