Beginning counseling is a courageous decision. Making that decision to schedule your first appointment is not always easy. How do you know if counseling is the next right step for you?
To put it simply, counseling addresses issues arising from feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. If you’re struggling in any of these areas, that’s a good sign that you can benefit from counseling. Some of these issues may be fairly obvious, like feeling depressed or anxious. Other signs may be less obvious.
Here’s some things we may think are normal but may actually be a sign of something deeper going on:
-Having difficulty making decisions
-Being overly worried about what people think
-Feeling threatened by others voicing their needs
-Being afraid of what God thinks of you
-Being overly concerned about sinning
-Criticizing yourself constantly
-Needing to be perfect
-Shutting down in the face of conflict
This is not how we were made to live. We have patterns in our thoughts and habits that have become so engrained that we own them as parts of our personality. The truth is that many of these patterns can be traced back to past wounds that have shaped our lives, whether we recognize it or not. Our brains are incredibly brilliant and adaptive. Their job is to protect us from harm and threats. That means that if we learned growing up that the adults in our lives become scary when they are angry, our brain convinced us to at all costs avoid doing or saying things that made others angry. Or if we were called selfish for asking for something that we wanted, our brain decided that never again would we voice our needs and instead made the agreement that everyone else’s needs are more important than our own.
We don’t have to live this way.
The first step is to bring to awareness the patterns and habits that are no longer serving you. Are you feeling burnt out from putting everyone else above yourself? Are you constantly feeling anxious from worrying about what people think of your decisions and choices? Are you holding back your true thoughts and feelings from someone you love because of the fear of confrontation? Are you having difficulty getting close to God because you don’t believe he could truly love you unconditionally? Are you discouraged from the shame of past mistakes?
You are not alone. There are many standing in the same place as you. And you don’t have to stay there.
We can journey back into our own stories to find the answers for why we do the things we do and feel the way that we feel. When we allow ourselves to be still and reflect, the Holy Spirit is able to take us back to certain memories and places of significance. It begins with taking time in silence and becoming comfortable with stillness. It makes sense if this is difficult for you; our world is not wired for stillness. Reclaiming this practice of calm and quiet can unlock so many doors for transformation. As you become accustomed to the stillness, the next step is to get curious about yourself, your habits, and any memories that arise.
As you uncover more and more about the habits and patterns that you seek to change, counseling can be a grounding, life-giving place for you to gain an objective perspective on what’s going on. A skilled counselor can prompt deeper reflection and connect dots from your past experiences to your current thoughts, behaviors, and feelings.
God is not limited in his ability to provide healing and freedom. It is absolutely possible to find healing and break negative patterns without counseling. For those who keep running into the same bad habits time and time again, who are having difficulty understanding their current struggles, who are overwhelmed by the pain of their past, or who want support and guidance on their journey to healing and wholeness, counseling is absolutely for you.