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What’s the Whack-a-Mole have to do with my emotions?


Hi, and welcome to this week’s blog post.

I’m thinking, you’re either a regular reader of my blog or you got curious about the title.

Either way, I’m glad you’re here!


In this post, I’d like to address something that I believe in and that colours the therapeutic work that I do. It also colours my life if I’m completely honest!

I didn’t go looking for psychodyamic theory or its way of working, it kinda found me! (That’s part of my academic journey and for another post, if you’re interested.)


Firstly though, let’s talk about the link I’ve made between the whack-a-mole game and our emotions.

In this classic game, what happens is, you have a mallet and the aim is to hit the mole (sometimes a crocodile or another thing/animal) when it pops out of the hole. You never know where it’s gonna pop out so you’ve gotta be quick! You’ve gotta be on top of it and thinking very quickly indeed!

Our unconscious works in a very similar way.


If we have a situation, a set of emotions, an encounter with someone, or anything that affects us emotionally, it will continue to do so until we address it.

There is no time in the unconscious, so whatever happened 40, 30, 20, 10, 5 years ago (or more recently) will continue to affect us until we do something about it.


So just like the mole, the unresolved stuff won’t stop popping up in different ways in our life, until we look at it straight in the face and work through those difficult emotions and thoughts, and possibly relational difficulties, that it might bring us.

It can get tiring trying to think fast to keep these things under wraps…

Working through the difficult stuff will help in a massive way.

It might take a few months or even a few years, but once the change that happens when we process emotions comes to pass, then you’ll be forever changed.

It might be a massive change or a little change. But change nonetheless will help you live a better life, where you’ll be able to manage those difficult emotions with more resilience and calm than you were able to before you worked through them.


Now the whack-a-mole will forever be popping moles up and down the game. In a similar way, the unconsicous will always be trying to bring stuff up from within the deepest depths of itself.

But once we know what’s there (the mole) and how to get it under our control and it becomes manageable, smaller (through therapeutic processing), its effects will become less taxing or overwhelming in our day to day lives.

For lack of a better analogy, before working through, the emotional “mole” might have been big and overwhelming. After working through, it becomes small enough to hold in our hand, and therefore more manageable.

I tell my clients all the time, that we don’t get amnesia from therapy.

And that’s a good thing, because the things that make us who we are, with the strengths we have now, are sometimes those difficult things we went through and worked through.


Until next week…


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