The One Thing You Need To Know About Counseling

That’s a pretty dramatic title, right? “The One Thing You Need To Know About Counseling” is pretty vague but it got you to click on this article. Maybe you’re another mental health professional and you were interested in coming to see what it was I had to say (so you could agree or disagree); maybe you’re someone that’s aching for any kind of help or the secret that’s going to solve your problems. It doesn’t matter because now that you’re here I’m going to try to back up this headline with something more substantial than just being click-bait.

This may be the only time that you read an article about counseling and so I wanted to present to you what, today, I consider to be the one thing that you really need to know to help yourself get as far as possible.

Stop keeping secrets. That’s it. Stop trying to keep things stuffed inside a box in your mind.

If this is the one thing that you can do for yourself, it will open up miles of freedom and psychological flexibility for you. Here’s why --

Imagine that you have a car and that car has a gas tank that is fueled by emotional energy. You never know when the tank is going to be refilled or how it’s going to get refilled but you do know that you want to go on a “long trip” sometime soon and that it’s going to take a lot of gas. If you idle the car in the driveway, you’re just wasting some gas that you might need to get where you want to go. If you’re doing donuts in the cul-de-sac, you are again wasting gas that you need to get where you’re trying to go.

That “long trip” that you want may be to go back to college, it may be to start your own business, it may even be to simply love yourself for who you are.

Trying to prevent yourself from thinking about something is like driving in circles around the block just for “fun”; it’s all gas wasted that will interfere with you getting to where you’re really trying to go in life. So many of the problems we see in our society and that I see in my office exist because, for a long time, we have been pretending that our problems don’t exist. One comment that I hear all the time is that, “it’s great to come here and get some of this stuff out of my head. It doesn’t seem so powerful now”.

The “suck it up” mentality just doesn’t work. Tell me:

  • That thing that your partner did that really bothered you or hurt your feelings but said nothing about; are you over it?
  • That feeling of depression that makes you question your worth and value but try to shove down in the back of your mind; is it really gone for good?
  • That loneliness you feel but don’t tell anyone about; are you un-lonely?

None of those things are actually gone. Sure, they may temporarily seem like they’re not annoying you but they come back pretty often and change how you live your life. If everyone could just stop pretending like they’re okay and be a little bit vulnerable with one another, with a trusted friend, with…gasp… their therapist, a lot of the power that they hold over you will go away. When we stop trying to avoid our more challenging emotions and start making room in our lives for them to exist, we are able to live with them better. They won’t hurt as much. They won’t knock you off the horse.

I want you to live and love your life as much as possible — that’s why I got into this field; to help as many people as possible do that. The one thing that you need to know about counseling is that it makes it okay for you to talk about and make room for those secrets. The one thing that you need to know about counseling is that what we’re here to do is to help you not suffer alone with those thoughts anymore.

Try it out. If you’ve been struggling with something, say it out loud to yourself. Don’t change it, don’t challenge it, don’t judge it. Just say it out loud to yourself and sit with it. What happens? You may be uncomfortable at first in dealing with it and if you are, great, that’s what we’re here for. But what if you tried it and you realized that it wasn’t that bad and you didn’t have to be afraid anymore?

That seems like a pretty strong proposition to me.

Until next time be well,

-A