I never thought that I should go for professional counselling. Instead, I talked to pastors, journaled, prayed, and besides that I knew people whose lives seemed much harder than mine, it was those people who needed counselling, not me. At least that’s how I used to think, but just over a year ago I had the opportunity to go for counselling and ran out of good excuses not to give it a shot. Despite my reluctance, I decided to meet with a counsellor. I am so glad I did. I learned so much and grew more than I ever thought I would. Here are a few things I gained from the experience:
Counselling helped me be more intentional with life.
In general, I have found that it is easy for me to become complacent with life. But in my first session, my counsellor asked me what my goals were for counselling. So I came up with two goals and started my journey of growing instead of just stagnating in my pain and insecurities.
Counselling helped me to heal where I didn’t realize I was hurting.
It’s an incredibly humbling experience to talk about something you thought wasn’t that big of a deal just to find yourself holding back tears the more you talk about it. I was so good at making jokes or smiling when talking about my pain that I wouldn’t even realize how bad I was hurting until my counsellor gave me permission to feel the pain. I had to realize I was hurt before I could heal.
Counselling taught me to be more honest.
I don’t think anyone has lied to me more than me. Counselling has challenged me to be honest with myself about what I’m thinking and feeling instead of pretending I’m doing better than I am. After working on being honest with myself, it enabled me to become more honest with others.
Counselling helped me recognize my strengths.
When I first went into counselling, I was really anxious about how I was doing things wrong. More specifically, I was worried that my attempts at getting a girlfriend were not healthy. Entering counselling not only helped me to establish the root of my unhealthy thoughts and behaviours so I could work towards change, counselling also helped reveal some of my strengths I didn’t even realize I had.
Counselling helped me to be present.
When I first went into counselling a lot of my anxiety and emotional stress revolved around my failed pursuits of a romantic relationship. But the thing is, I would worry so much about what relationship may or may not happen tomorrow, that I would forget to be present today. Towards the end of my time in counselling (I do still like to check-in with my counsellor from time to time) I found myself getting excited about what the present had to offer. I started being more intentional about the relationships I do have, and even took up some new hobbies. All of these were by-products of worrying less about tomorrow, and being more present today.
Counselling taught me to celebrate progress
I have known now for a while that I need not look for perfection, but progress; however, recognizing personal growth in the shadow of personal failure is easier said than done. In my first counselling session I had to establish goals for my time in counselling, and 6 months later, my counsellor told me it looks like I actually accomplished the goals. Despite continuing to fall short now and again, this does not diminish the fact that I have made progress.