Why being told what to do sucks
....even when you wish that someone would!
Your relationships are full of conflict. You are not where you want to be in work, you feel as if you present one version of yourself to the world and experience something completely different inside. You want something to change. You are desperate for a more satisfying life but you have no idea what to do to improve things. If only there was someone who would tell you what to do, somebody surely must have a solution?
Maybe that somebody is a counsellor?
Many people come to counselling with the hope that a professional counsellor will provide answers and solutions. A short time into things, they discover that advice is not part of the counselling process. This can come as a crashing disappointment. Having someone tell you what to do would bring relief, it would guarantee change, happiness even! Handing over the power to somebody else for deciding what you should do and how you should be, would take the pressure off and give you a rest. No more beating yourself up for being where you are, no more doubting whether things will ever be different, no more anxiety about making the ‘wrong’ decision.
The downside however, is that you don’t get the joy of working out what you want to do and how you’re going to get there either. You want someone to tell you what to do because you doubt your own capacity to find a way through.
A fundamental principle of person centered counselling is that given the right conditions, we all have the capacity to move towards growth, to create change for the better. When you have at least one relationship where you can focus on you, where you can be fully heard and accepted as you are, (even the bits that you find difficult to accept yourself) it becomes possible to hear yourself more deeply. Then it becomes possible to access your inner wisdom, it becomes possible to relate people in a different way, to take action that’s new to you and to see yourself in a new light. Anyhow, there are no wrong or right decisions, there are just decisions and then learning.
Stay with the feelings. Before the way forward emerges, it can help to be right where you are, which is not easy since you do not want to be there. But being present to your feelings, by exploring and unpicking what’s going on and what it means for you, can paradoxically shift something. As you get more in touch with yourself and where you currently are, you begin to know what you want, what to do and find the courage to make changes.
So why does it suck to be told what to do? Because you’d miss out on that reconnection with yourself.
By going straight to the answer, which yes has appeal, you would reinforce to yourself that you don’t have the capacity to improve things. Seeking help to find your own solutions, you realise that you are ok. You have capacity, you have courage and this will give you confidence in future situations.
About the author
Amy is a BACP registered counsellor. She practices in Hitchin, Hertfordshire
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