I feel unable to take the next step

Mary Fenwick, our agony aunt offers some words of wisdom on whatever is troubling you


I feel unable to take the next step

I retrained as a counsellor seven years ago and have managed (finally) to find a part-time position that combines my existing management skills with my newer counselling experience, but the salary is not good. Now, I am caught in my own procrastination. I wonder if I made a good choice retraining in this area and am putting off doing further training. I do not have a degree and was considering doing one at one stage, but now it is way beyond my means. I would love to develop myself professionally, but everything is so expensive. I feel stupid, uneducated and under-skilled. I help people unlock themselves, yet feel tightly shut down myself, frozen by all the options and wrong decisions I may have made. I literally don’t know where to turn. Name supplied

Lately I have been listening to a guided meditation on self-compassion, and I would love to have a magic switch to let me download it straight to your brain right now. The way you’re talking to yourself is so harsh that I winced reading your letter. I don’t see any evidence of you being stupid, but what I do hear is that you are feeling hopeless. To counteract this you need to work your hope muscle (it’s a bit like your pelvic floor; you take it for granted until it disappears).

I’m going to be more prescriptive than usual, because if you reject my suggestions then it means your ideas are better – and that would be great!

Step 1. Give yourself a break. Find something that absorbs your full attention – recite all the lyrics to your favourite song, play chess with a friend, try a local outdoor boot-camp – whatever works for you.

Step 2. Get to know your own strengths by name 

Step 3. Consciously use those strengths.

Whenever you feel stuck, you can ask ‘how can I use one of my existing strengths in a new way here?’. And please congratulate yourself for reaching out for help in this letter – you will have helped other people by putting these thoughts in words.   

More inspiration:

Do take the test to discover what your character strengths are at viacharacter.org

Research Low-cost online courses at the Institute of Child Education & Psychology at icepe.eu (I recommend their certificate in teaching hope and optimism).

Visit self-compassion.org for guided meditations

Read What to do when your comfort zone at work feels like a velvet prison by Vanessa Anstee on LifeLabs

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email mary@psychologies.co.uk, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line