This month has been a bit rough. We lost my sister at a relatively young age a few weeks ago. I've had a bit of malaise since then. I recently read Joan Didion's "Year of Magical Thinking" and it was such a great book on the subject of grief. I've thought about that a lot since my sisters death - how I had just read that book and how it has helped me in a way to be more in touch with what I've been feeling and thinking. Things happen that we don't have any control over and they are not that easy to just get over quickly. I've had a few things like that happen in my life now. Sometimes I feel like the older you get the more you're subject to having to face things you never thought you would - things that never seemed real or likely or...I guess just things you never think about when you're young.
At the same time I have learned so much from some of the hard things I've faced. I am so much more comfortable with who I am than I have ever been in my life. I feel so much more sure of my ability to find my way through life.
I just started what I hope will be my graduate program for counseling. I'm very excited about this. At the same time I'm a little nervous because these next 6 weeks are basically a 'try out' to make sure we're a good fit for this somewhat rigorous program. So it's good, and nerve wracking at the same time.
I'm excited ultimately about the possibility of becoming a counselor and helping people through the difficulties of life. Really, being a counselor is like being a guide for someone through times that seem dark or scary or just impossible and difficult. It's about helping people understand themselves better, and maybe the people around them better at the same time. It's about finding new ways to think and do and be. Healthier and happier ways.
I sometimes hear people say that they don't want to see a counselor because they are just as messed up as their clients. I don't think that's usually very accurate. What usually is accurate is that most counselors are counselors because they have been through something hard themselves and it left them a more empathic person and it made them feel like they would like to help other people get through difficult things. Most of them work regularly to make sure that their own problems never get in the way of helping other people with their problems. If you don't think a divorced counselor should be a marriage counselor, you're wrong. That person is in a unique position to understand exactly what might go wrong in a relationship. And more importantly, they are usually pretty in tune with what couples are going through when they reach a point of being willing to come in for counseling. Ditto when drug counselors are former drug addicts, or eating disorder counselors have had eating disorders.
Counselors can literally help you learn to be happy. Who wouldn't want that job? I can barely believe that people might some day pay me for what I would actually prefer to spend my time doing; listening to people and helping them with their problems. Hopefully inspiring people to make the changes in their lives that will turn things around in a very real way.
But counseling isn't magic either. Talking with a counselor without spending some time reflecting on the things you learn and trying to apply them in your life isn't going to accomplish anything. And change takes time. Going to a counselor once or twice or even a handful of times isn't likely to accomplish a whole lot either. Sometimes real change takes real time. You didn't get in your situation over night. Your change take some patience with yourself and with your counselor.
One of the hard things about counseling people is that often, people are very reluctant to actually change. Habits die hard. The ways in which they interact with other people in their life, the ways they respond to stress, unhealthy relationships that feel familiar and comfortable are all very difficult things to convince someone they need to change. Even when they know it's true, it doesn't make it easy. And there are many ways we delude ourselves into believing things about ourselves or other people that pull us into a rut or a cyclical journey where it's hard to find where we can get out or off.
As I start this new journey I am hoping to maybe have some blog posts that might inspire or help people to find ways to be happier. Or ways to deal with or look at their problems which might inspire them to get some counseling if that's what is needed.
Are you happy? Keep doing what you're doing. If you aren't, change something.
How simple that sounds right? But that journey can be hard.
If you want some advice on counselors and finding one, you can always email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org