Having a good relationship with yourself means knowing and accepting your story, even the bits that you might have consciously or unconsciously forgotten, says counsellor Ron Perry. Once you understand this, you’re on the road to peace with yourself and openness to others.
Ron Perry, counsellor and psychologist for over 30 years, aims to help people live the best life they can.
People seek his help when things aren’t going the way they want, when they feel out of balance, unable to cope with a particular challenge that life has thrown at them. Sometimes they feel deep emotional pain. Many people’s issues are around relationships that aren’t going well.
The thing to remember, he says, is that everyone has limitations and struggles.
“We’re all going through a struggle,” he says. “And everyone else is too.”
The first step, he says, is accepting that struggle. The next step is learning to survive the struggles that life presents us with, with the resources we have, some within, some coming through our relationships. These differ for everyone, explains Ron.
When presented with a client with an issue they are unhappy about, he works with them to uncover their story. “Your story will show you what you have learned to manage life,” he says.
A person’s story may seem straightforward, but dig a little deeper and it’s not necessarily so. People have a way of compensating for, or forgetting, experiences and this often has a profound impact on our lives and values.
He gives an example of someone who may be having trouble maintaining relationships, but can’t work out why. If, for example, that person’s parents didn’t model good relationships, they’ve unconsciously picked up unhelpful values around relationships. These unconscious values then play out in their adult life. With the counsellor’s help, they can uncover why they might hold a set of unhelpful beliefs, examine them, and decide whether they want to change them. This can depend on the deeper values they hold.
He sees breakthroughs, such as when a person realises and accepts how their story has impacted their lives, as a step in the healing process.
Over the years, Ron has learned that no two people will heal the same way. “Emotional healing happens in its own way in its own time,” he says. “It can be quite miraculous the way a breakthrough can happen unexpectedly.”
Ron feels that a sense of belonging helps people connect to others and their place in the world, which is why affirming relationships are so important. At the same time, he advises against comparisons with others.
“There is a richness in everyone,” he says, “but no two people are the same. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are your own story.”
When you’ve understood that, says Ron, you’re better able to appreciate yourself, what’s important to you, and what strengths you can draw on as you go through life.
Then, says Ron, “You’ll be in a better place to live your life being true to oneself, more likely to be able to love oneself, and one’s neighbour.”
Ron Perry can be contacted at ronperry.com.au.
This article was originally featured in the Ordinary Time/Winter 2021 Edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine.