I wanted to write about counseling because, as many of you know, this is something that is quite dear to me. Specifically, I wanted to open up a conversation about why individuals may want to embark on this journey of counseling and self-reflection, even if they are not in crisis mode.
It seems to be fairly common that individuals seeking counseling do so out of necessity. Usually something has gone wrong, we feel horrible, there is an impending breakup or divorce, we got fired, etc. What is not surprising is that these same issues have usually been going on, in some smaller capacity, for quite awhile. It is rare that we seek counseling because something came up out of the blue and caught us off guard. Usually feeling not so great has been going on for some time and once counseling is actively pursued it's because things became uncomfortable enough to seek out some support.
Sometimes, I wonder what life would be like if we sought counseling before things were bad and instead when they were just not great. Here’s the kicker: we don’t have to wait until things get bad before we step aside and ask for help. Counseling can be as simple as a few sessions to help balance life, reduce stressors, find meaning in a difficult situation, and get us back on track to feeling great. It surely doesn’t need to be some weekly thing we do for the rest of our life. On the contrary, most people see a counselor weekly a few times, then maybe every few weeks, then perhaps monthly, and finally once every year or so. Counselors are here for the long haul. That doesn’t mean you have to be.
A lot of us consider the amount of time we would have to take out of our busy schedules in order to make a counseling session a few weeks a year (I’m with you, I think about this, too). But stop and think about the hours of sleep that have been stolen by your worries at night, or the days you called in sick to work because you didn’t feel up to going in, or the cancelled dates with friends, or the wasted arguments with your partner. Do you think going to counseling a few hours a year would have saved many of those hours? I bet they would, three times over. So maybe we start considering casual counseling as a time and money saver that helps us do the things we do best while feeling good about it.
Counseling as a causal thing is extremely healthy for us as humans. We feel happy when we have a sense of connectedness with ourselves and others, and when we figure out how to have meaning in life. I can’t stress the connectedness and meaning enough. These two things have a substantial influence over us on a daily basis, more so than financial or professional success. When we start having difficulties with ourselves and in our relationships this can take a huge toll on us over time. We think we can fix it on our own or read a few books to “cure” us, but the truth is we are not seriously looking at ourselves in an honest and healthy light if we do it alone. We need help.
My challenge to you and to others you may encounter down the road is to take a deep look in the mirror and ask yourself if counseling might help you. I bet your answer is yes. I know mine is. If you are nervous about making that first call, don’t worry, we all feel that way. It’s scary to speak-up and reach out to a complete stranger to talk about your personal thoughts. It is for me, too. But, in order for us to become the people we want to be we need to step outside of our comfort zone and put in the work we deserve. There is little to lose yet miles to gain.