Life's Little Intervention
One of the most eye-opening things I have done for myself, in recent years, was to go for counseling. Like many of us who have not been initiated into the world of counseling and coaching, we might have some pre-conceived notion of what counseling is, the types of people who actually go for counseling and why they need counseling. Like the many people in Singapore who sees a counselor, I ended up seeing mine, through an intervention. A common thread that runs through many when they see a counselor for the first time, is that they are going through a negative, distressing or generally demoralising place in their lives. Sometimes, their family and friends would intervene and seek counseling help for the person. Sometimes, the workplace might intervene and seek counseling or coaching therapy for the person.
In my case however, it was life that intervened. I was at the top of my game, I had a great career with wonderful prospects; a loving family who supports me in what ever I do; and great friends who would stand by me whenever I need people to laugh and cry with. However, I felt a little empty and misunderstood. I was bored. And perhaps, I was misunderstood because I myself had lost sight of what kind of person I wanted to be, and what kind of life I wanted to have.
"When the Student is Ready, the Teacher will Appear"
Few phrases rings the truth to me, in the same way as the phrase “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. In many ways, this is true of a counselor. A counselor is a teacher of sorts, but a counselor is focused on the student or learner. A counselor helps the student gain awareness of themselves, their motivations and beliefs; shines the way in gaining insights and understanding of the situation the student is in; and equips the students with the necessary skills in deciding what outcomes that are best for them.
However, for true self-awareness and self-help to happen, the student must be ready. Counseling can only work if the student is a willing and ready participant who wishes to change and is able to collaborate willingly with the counselor.
Perhaps for me, it was a cry out to the universe that was answered (this phase rings true to me as well, and I think I will blog more about this concept in future!). My counselor came to me in the form of an old family friend, who has an inspiring story herself as well. She had just completed her Masters in Counseling. She was in her 50s then. She was motivated to do counseling as she had volunteered in a women’s association, and was deeply moved by the women she had met there who were recovering from family violence. My sessions with her started out as sessions over coffee and a massage chair(!) at her place. She helped me gain self-awareness of my motivations in life and my belief systems. I bared all, good thoughts, bad thoughts, thoughts I thought I was ashamed of, deep secrets I didn’t even know I had, memories of a sweet childhood, hopes for a wonderful tomorrow, everything. Counseling does that to you, as the space you have with your counselor, is a CONFIDENTIAL and “safe space” where you can say anything you want to, without the worry of being judged.
A counselor is NOT there to give you advice, NOR is a counselor there to judge you. Most importantly, a counselor is NOT there to sort out your problems for you. You do it YOURSELF.
A counselor is there to help you explore your own feelings and the difficulties you may have through counseling tools and techniques. The counselor will guide you by helping you articulate your situation and choices to yourself. Through this clarity, self awareness can be developed; such that you can come to a place of making the best choices for yourself, based on the clarity of what you are, what you want and the situation as YOU interpret it.
Clarity, Self-Awareness and the Journey of Helping Yourself
I loved the counseling sessions I had. Or should I say, I am grateful to the sessions. Immensely grateful. As opposed to a single “eureka”, I would liken counseling to a journey of self-discovery, peppered with many little “aha” moments. Through the exercises I had with my counselor, as well as the personal journalling I did, I came to understand so many things about myself. Dots were connected, mind mists were lifted and I came to realise, that I had brought on to myself the situations I were in, and that there was no wrong or right about things, they are all just opportunities to become a better, kinder, wiser person. I learnt the real meaning of forgiveness, and in a rather peculiar way, I learnt too, the true importance of choice.
My counselor moved away from Singapore about 2 years ago, and yes, indeed, while I miss my regular sessions with her, the skills and insights I had gained from the sessions have stuck with me since. It’s changed the way I think about life and my choices in life. That's the wonderful thing about counseling. It's a change of perspective that stays with you for life. It's not just a one off "solution" to a problem you have, it's a perspective shift that evolves as you continue in this big adventure called life. And YES! I must say that I am in a great space right now. At this moment, there is no where else I would rather be. And that clarity of mind, came from the counseling guidance that I received. Thanks to my my cry to the universe (and counselor of course!).
And it is with this my gentle readers, that I would like to leave with you this message on a Saturday evening. If you do ever come across a counselor, do have a chat with him or her. If you approach it with an open mind, you might be surprised on the 20/20 clarity counseling can give you, and how truly limitless an open mind can be.
At CaregiverAsia, we think that mental wellness is an important topic that need to be explored and understood more. For the month of August, we will be putting up more useful and interesting articles on this topic, the types of therapies available, and testimonials of individuals who have benefitted from these therapies. Do subscribe to our blog to continue reading!
If you wish to consult with a professional counselor, you can book one now on the CaregiverAsia website.