If you have listened to the podcast You know I am a big advocate for counseling. Let me tell you how I got there.
A few years ago I entered a new job situation thinking I was prepared for anything that could come my way. Well I wasn’t, and initially, instead of growing and learning, my confidence was totally blasted to bits. I let fear take over and I had no clue how to even begin to pick up the pieces.
Every Monday morning I dread going. I would cry in the kitchen and my husband would pray with me and tell me everything would be okay. I typically didn’t eat on Mondays. I would say I was fasting, but the truth was it was just easier not to eat because my stomach was too upset. I was riddled with anxiety over what the day would hold. Would I make the right choices? Would I do something wrong and get in trouble or get fired? Could I make it through the day without x, y, or z happening. Due to the nature of the situation, much of it was out of my control, but I wanted to control everything. I thought it would help these feelings go away, if I could just control everything and everyone around me.
Many nights I would come home and lie in bed with a glass of wine and watch scandal until I fell asleep. I pushed it all away, I didn’t want to deal with it. I soon realized this was no way to live. This cycle of fear was not God’s plan for me.
I tearfully emailed my pastors from my church and told them I was dealing with anxiety and maybe depression. I was paralyzed by fear and didn’t know how to handle it. I asked if they knew of any counselors in the area. I had never been to counseling, but I wasn’t afraid of it either. I just didn’t know where to begin. My pastor Bobby and his wife Cindy called me and we talked on the phone for a while and I explained what was going on. They told me they totally understand and there were so many people in this world that were dealing with the same thing and they thought counseling would be great for me. They also asked if they could pray for me, I’ll never forget that. I got their suggestion and made a phone call right away.
Over the next couple of years I would learn so much with my counselor, we’ll call her Nina.
Nina sat and listened to me, and some days, that’s all you need, an objective listener.
She would listen and affirm what I was going through was hard.
She would encourage me and make non-pushy suggestions. I never felt uncomfortable. I always told her everything in my own time.
I did thinking exercises and meditations.
She got me to a healthy place where work, although I still didn’t love it, was manageable.
She taught me to stay present.
She taught me to de-escalate a thought, and realize some of the things I was worried about wouldn’t be so bad. I could handle it if it happened.
She taught me that I can’t control the circumstances around me, but I can control myself and my thoughts and reactions.
It wasn’t always easy, but I loved every minute of it. I even loved it so much that when things started popping up for Brad and I as husband and wife, guess where we went? Counseling!
We learned to share feelings clearly. (Even Brad, who is an Enneagram 1 and we always joke he doesn’t have feelings)
We learned to dig deep and find what feelings motivated our actions.
We learned to trust better.
We learned to communicate better.
We learned how our personalities work for and against each other.
We learned how to make time for each other and prioritize our marriage.
I say all of these examples to say that there is SO MUCH you learn about yourself in counseling. Have you ever wondered why you think the way you do? Or why you react to certain things? Or what your triggers are?
If you have any type of goal for yourself counseling is a great place to go. Maybe you’re dealing with anxiety or depression. Maybe you want to be a better spouse, better daughter, brother, or friend. Maybe there’s nothing you can even pinpoint and you feel pretty normal. Counseling is for you.
I want to get rid of the stigma that something must be really “wrong” with you if you go to counseling.
GET THAT OUT OF HERE! First off: sin, shame, and hardship is in this world, so there is something “wrong” with all of us. Secondly: sure you can go to counseling if something is wrong, but you can also go if everything is feeling right! Counseling is preventative as well.
I hear some people say,”well I would go, but it’s too expensive.” So many places will work on a sliding scale based on your income. It’s awesome. Also, think about it. We pay for classes and gym memberships for our physical health, but why are we not willing to pay for our spiritual and mental health?
I heard something on a podcast recently, and I think it’s true. He said something to the effect of, “So many people have let go of the counseling stigma but they still won’t go. They won’t go because they aren’t ready to face it yet. They know it will absolutely break them.”
I want you to know that it does break you. In so many ways it breaks you, but it is breaking the old you. The things you want to change are being broken. It is letting go of the hardening, and it is making something new. Counseling is heart breaking, but more than that, counseling is healing.
I obviously love counseling. It’s no surprise. I still will go once a month or every now and then because even when things feel running smooth, you can always have a check in. Like an oil change if you will, it’s maintenance for your heart and mind.
If you’ve been thinking about going, don’t squash that thought. Don’t let fear of what other people think hold you back. You don’t even have to tell anyone you’re going if you don’t want to. If you need help finding a place, I’m happy to help. I’m sure your family and friends and leaders around you probably know someone too.
You’re not alone. We’re all here on this Earth for each other to help one another make it through. And I just want you to know, counseling is a pretty cool place if you’re up for it.