The power of self-awareness through counselling
Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut? Deeply unhappy and in despair?
Lacking energy, zeal, gusto, enthusiasm about life?
Spend hours of days watching mindless TV to escape the reality that is your life?
A deep sense of anxiety about your future?
Feel like you are merely existing, and yet have no clue or desire to know how to change your life?
Feel like surely there has to be more to life than this?
Overindulging - overeating, drinking too much, spending too much, gambling?
These are a few of many reasons why clients seek counselling. Basically it's when we reach a place of imbalance and life just seems hard and we struggle to find the inner strength or resources like we used to.
The truth is life can be tough sometimes. At some point or other life deals us certain blows which just throws us and somehow we are just not able to fight back. This might be triggered by a life change or difficult experience like a divorce, bereavement, relationship breakdown, loss of job, illness or stress.
I would say however, that I have found in my counselling experience that sometimes, when these life difficulties knock us down and floor us to the point of despair and depression, it usually is a sign of deeper rooted issues about the self. Who we really are.
One of the theories of counselling is that clients seek counselling because they are incongruent. This basically means that there is a conflict between who we think we are based on others’ expectations (self-concept) and the person we would like to be (our ideal self). The closer our self-image and ideal self are to each other, the higher our sense of self-worth.
In my personal experience, for many years I was conflicted between the person I really wanted to be and the person I thought others would approve of. I chose approval of others as that was where I had any worth. Deep down I was desperately unhappy, which now I realise was because I was not being true to my authentic and true self. The way I looked, the life I lived, my view of success, the decisions I made were driven by external standards and judgements of others. I reached a point of total crisis because I was silencing the voice of my true self, and dismissing my needs whilst satisfying those of others which I prioritised.
For a lot of clients the story is the same. They might be going through a crisis, breakdown, depression or anxiety. As we delve deeper, the truth finally begins to reveal itself. They want to be true to themselves. Perhaps they’ve been in a career that they loathe and for years they have felt stifled and trapped but could never summon the courage to leave and chase their dreams. For some it’s a lifestyle, they have amassed wealth, are living a life of luxury and affluence. To everyone on the outside they are the epitome of success. Yet they feel empty, unfulfilled, burdened by their opulence and would much rather live a life of simplicity. How do you even begin to climb down the very pedestal that makes you feel you are worth something? Who will like you when you are deemed a nobody?
For some people it’s their looks. They feel they have to look and dress a certain way to be beautiful, attractive or acceptable. I can relate to that one. For years I believed that I was attractive only when I was a size 10 or less, with make-up, long hair and expensive clothes. Anything less than that, was failure in my eyes and in the eyes of those I was trying to impress.
Problems arise when there is a major conflict between our internal and external. Sometimes it takes an experience to really bring out that conflict. I see that process as the battle of the self and journey to self- awareness. It's like deep down on the inside of us, we no longer want to live an inauthentic life. Counselling is a great space to really process and start that journey. It takes courage, determination and a willingness to begin to trust yourself to break out of the beliefs you have held for so long. It is a process that involves looking at your past, your history, your attachment system, beliefs, defence mechanisms. Basically the whole self. All in all, it is a journey worth taking, if you are earnestly seeking a more fruitful and rewarding life.
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