What’s happened to you?

A Clinical Psychologist I admire very much (Dr Lucy Johnstone) said something along the lines of this – ‘we need to move from working out what’s wrong with you, to what has happened to you’.

So often we look for a name or a title to hang our problems on. Sometimes this can be incredibly helpful, but at other times a name for the difficulties we’re facing doesn’t do anything to help us with or change the difficulties we’re facing.

Sometimes we need to make sense of what’s going on in a different way. Psychologists call this ‘formulation’. This is when we try to make sense of what is bothering you by putting together information about what was going on around the time the problem started, with information about who you are and your experiences.

This is helpful because it helps to make things make sense. Often when we’re struggling life doesn’t feel like it does make sense. So, putting pieces of the puzzle together doesn’t make everything magically alright, but it does help us to understand, and often it also suggests things we can work on or change to improve things.

Getting over or dealing with tough stuff is about taking one step at a time. One step in the right direction is working out what has happened to you to get you to the place you’re at. It’s a good place to start from. Didn’t another wise person say ‘a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step’?

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