“The more we fight life, the more we struggle’
Psychotherapist and author of Ten to Zen, Ten Times Happier and now How To Be Your Own Therapist, joins our podcast to discuss working on yourself, managing change and addressing your internal tone
Owen O’Kane believes wholeheartedly in the power of good therapy. As someone who was previously a NHS Clinical Lead for Mental Health, and is now working in private practice as well as writing and speaking publicly about the subject, he’s all too aware of the stress on the system and the need for more support for many more people.
This is why the idea for his most recent book How To Be Your Own Therapist came about. “It’s not a replacement of one to one therapy,” he shares honestly. “But my argument is, if it gets someone started or it helps them to make sense of who they are and on the road to recovery, then I’ve done my job.
“Very often one word, a line or a suggestion can sometimes make an incredible difference in someone’s life”, he explains. “We think it has to be complicated but very often it doesn’t. For example, in my line of work, I see people talking to themselves in a really cruel harsh way, regularly, and the one thing that I reinforce a lot in my book is if you can help someone stop doing that then their life transforms immeasurably.”
“How are you talking to yourself? I’d really encourage anyone listening or reading today to really ask themselves that question. If you wouldn’t speak to another human being the way you’re speaking to yourself, then that’s where you need to get started.
“Give yourself permission to be who you are and feel what you’re feeling and then make the decision to say to yourself “I’m going to look after you, it’s okay. I’ve got you”. When you begin to make those adjustments, it’s a game changer.”
“In psychology, we often talk about anxiety and depression and trauma but something we probably don’t talk about enough is adjustment disorders, which are very often linked to changes in life. And of course, adjustment disorders will present as anxiety, changes in mood or people can develop behaviours that are maybe a bit more obsessional or habitual.
“This can play out in many different ways for people. And I think as human beings, many of us are hardwired for predictability. If you look at a definition of anxiety, it’s an intolerance of uncertainty. So basically we, as human beings, tend not to tolerate uncertainty very well.
“Very often we want life to go a particular way and we have a notion about how life should be. However, life often delivers a complete opposite of what we want and for me, psychological wellness is about how we navigate that middle ground. And that’s about psychological flexibility because the more tolerant you can become and the more you can go with life as it is not how you think it should be, that’s one of the cornerstones for good psychological health. The more we fight life and work against it, the more we struggle.”
Watch Owen’s incredible TedX Talk – Bombs, Bullets, Bullying and a Piano.
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