Counselling in Wokingham – Tigers

Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 –
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page

Yesterday, I saw “Life of Pi” at the cinema; it was a film that got me thinking. It left me thinking about a lot of things, but I’m going to blog about tigers. Not the black and orange striped things, but the tigers that live within us.

TigerIn a crisis, we often need to “dig deep” – to find strengths in ourselves that we do not normally call upon – that we don’t normally need. Sometimes we are able to get help from others – friends, relatives, professionals – but at other times those people may not be available, or be willing, or be able to help us – and we may find ourselves on our own, just as Pi finds himself alone, on a lifeboat, with only a tiger to help him. And often we have that choice – do we look to others for help or do we look within ourselves?

At first, Pi sees the tiger as a threat, as the enemy, and so too we may see our emotions as enemies. “I shouldn’t be feeling like this” or “I hate feeling like this” are expressions I often hear from clients – and they may apply to range of emotions; anger, jealousy, fear, sadness, loneliness and so on.

The emotions we might feel can be horrible, of course, and we may want, desperately want, to get rid of them, to stop ourselves feeling the way we do. And so we may resort to various ways of getting rid of or reducing these emotions – we might, for example, throw ourselves into work or some other project, take a holiday, buy the car of our dreams, or turn to drink or drugs, either legal or illegal.

All these things can be helpful in making it easier to deal with emotions we don’t want, though they all carry with them their own drawbacks – and all of them are essentially ways of avoiding our emotions rather than confronting them and dealing with them. That can be helpful, of course, a bit of distraction can be just what we need when we’re feeling bad.

But sooner or later, we are going to have to face the tiger within us – he won’t be seasick forever – and so we need to confront and deal with our emotions. In the first place, this means allowing them to exist and giving them time to develop. One way of doing this is to talk about them – admitting our feelings to someone else can be very powerful, but we can also talk about them to ourselves, or even to our dog. Another way is to express them physically. Punching something (preferably not a person) can help many of us release anger; tears help to release sadness, and so on.

Pi eventually finds that the tiger is an ally – the tiger helps him to survive – that he could not have survived without him, and so, too, our unwelcome emotions can become our allies. This can happen in different ways for different people, but for example, our anger can give us energy to change, our loneliness can lead to inner strength, our fear can become defiance.

Our emotions, even though they are painful and unpleasant, are natural and normal. They are part of a process of change – an opportunity for change that we can choose to reject or accept. Do we try squash the feelings, get rid of them, or do we accept them, see them as part of ourselves, see them as our potential allies?

When Pi’s tiger dives into the water, he has that choice – to leave the tiger stranded, to let it drown, or to build it a ladder, to allow it back onto the boat. There are moments in our lives when we all have the chance to make choices like that….

About Paul Cockayne

Counsellor, musician, iPhone developer, games-player, cheese-lover....
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