Trainee diary: Counselling Skills
Cherished memories and lessons learnt
Having been asked to bring in five items from home, I was really looking forward to this week’s class. I was intrigued and thought it would be a way of sharing a bit more about ourselves through our objects.
We were separated into groups of four and asked to set our objects out on the table and not to say anything about them or touch them. Once everyone had done this we were then asked to say what they were, keeping it as short as possible and without touching anything. Everyone named their objects. I found it easy listing mine but difficult not to ask any questions about everyone else’s items. I was itching to say more about my choices and could tell everyone else was too.
We were then asked to say what they meant to us, keeping it brief and again not being able to touch them. This was quite hard as each item meant something special to me. We were asked to analyse how we had placed our items on the table. I had placed mine in order of importance, or so I thought. When I came to explain this I realised how much they were all interlinked and that they were all of the same importance. All of my items were linked to the past in one way or another. All were given by – or produced memories of – family members that have since passed away. Each item induced memories that I could remember clearly, taught me things that I hadn’t realised had come from these people. I have a lot of interests in many different things but didn’t quite realise how all the things I had been taught as a child had such a huge impact on me now as an adult.
As well as being placed in order of importance, I had also set them out facing me in a neat and orderly manner. I was asked why they were all facing towards me. I realised that although I was happy to talk about them and for everyone to look at them I still wanted to keep some sort of privacy and reassure myself that they are still mine. I know that this is something I do with my emotions too. I’m not afraid to show emotions but I tend to hold something of myself back. I’m not sure now if this is due to mistrust or self preservation or whether this is just, simply, the way I am. The fact that my items were placed in an orderly way is also significant. I am a neat and tidy person at home, which some may say is controlling. Perhaps I try and control my emotions too. As I have learnt previously, I try and segregate my thoughts and emotions and put them neatly into little boxes in my mind. Perhaps being neat and tidy with my possessions helps me to focus and deal with my emotions and thoughts more easily.
Finally we were asked to talk about the emotions our items raised and we were allowed to touch them. I immediately started to fret as a couple of the items could have potentially reduced me to tears. I asked if another member of our group could go first as that meant I would have time to compose myself and get my thoughts together. When I began to explain what emotions the items brought out in me there was a mixture of emotions for each and every item. I couldn’t necessarily name just one solid emotion. This caused everyone to question me, saying, “well I thought that made you sad” when I’d added that it also made me feel happy or strong. I don’t think I ever feel just one emotion, no matter what the circumstances. Perhaps we all feel a plethora of emotions but only know how to recognise one or two?
Being able to touch the items meant that I could share my items freely: one item in particular makes me feel a mixture of being proud and courageous, happy and sad. I wanted everyone to see this as I wanted them to know exactly how I felt about it.
I enjoyed doing this exercise. It made me realise in some aspects why I am the way I am: how certain parts of my character have been formed, who I’ve really learnt from in life, how my thoughts and feelings can be reflected in objects I cherish and how being orderly and neat at home helps me to cope emotionally.
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