Tips for maintaining your inner balance in an ever-changing world
InnerPiece Psychologie Praktijk is an Amsterdam-based private psychology practice, providing psychological support, counselling and life coaching for expats in the Netherlands.
In ancient Greece, philosopher Heraclitus stated that "everything constantly changes", and he felt that the concept of continual change was very central to our universe.
Today, this idea seems to be more true than ever. In our fast-moving world, there are constant demands for immediate adjustment to a variety of different areas: relationships, work, culture, priorities we set and so on.
How do we adapt to change while at the same maintain our inner peace?
Emotions and thoughts during periods of life changes
Change is often compared to grief and loss. When something or someone we used to know is not the same anymore, we feel lost and often isolated, at times even helpless.
We compare ourselves with others in similar situations, trying to cope with what is changing and often feeling we are left behind, not being able to enjoy our daily life.
Stress, mood swings and the challenges we face in our interpersonal, professional and social interactions, seem to build up while our own internal resources appear to be insufficient for dealing with everything. But is that really the case?
Stress affects our perception on whether and how we can deal with change
Under stressful conditions, our problem-solving capacity gets restricted due to a number of factors. We might see the glass half-empty and get overwhelmed by what we "should" do or who we "should" be, instead of taking some time to carefully listen to our inner needs.
Staying calm when things get tough
When under stress, our mind can interpret things in a way that leaves us feeling threatened. Our thoughts become more focused on the negative aspects of change, and at the same time our bodies also increase the levels of certain hormones such as cortisol.
This in turn affects how our body reacts, and makes it hard for us to relax or even to take a deep, long breath.
Psychological sessions can help
Talking to a psychologist can be a great first step towards lasting change. During therapy sessions, we have the opportunity to spend time with ourselves to really find out what it is we need to feel more wholesome again.
We focus on identifying who we are, what we like, where it feels safe for us, what the missing pieces of our inner self are and how we can integrate everything into becoming whole again.
This enables us to pinpoint small steps we can take in order to modify our daily life in a positive manner. Reconsidering everything with a psychologist and acting upon it at our own pace can result in new horizons and perspectives.
What can I expect from sessions with a psychologist?
Psychological sessions can bring out several surprises. Things we did not know we were thinking become more conscious and we gradually become more aware of our feelings, which gives us the opportunity to learn a "new language" - the language of emotions.
More importantly, through therapy, we come closer to our needs, our goals and aspirations, our wishes - everything that constitutes our concept of self. We learn to accept our inner-most thoughts and feelings and give them space and time to be explored. It can give us the tools for healing and for deciding the future we want for ourselves.
Last but not least, the truth lies within the words given to us by humanistic psychology: "The paradox in life is that we can only change ourselves once we have truly accepted who we are".
An expat living in the Netherlands since 2011, Despoina Kairi is the owner of InnerPiece Psychologie Praktijk, where she offers psychological services to individuals. She also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate psychology courses at Webster University in Leiden.