‘What do you think I should do?’ is a question I have been asked more times than I can count. I get a client here and there who knows my opinion on the words ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ so will ask ‘what would you do?’ instead, but the seeking of an answer to their troubles is still consistent. I’m the ‘professional’, the one who is ‘educated’ in what is ‘normal’. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad question to ask and I love hearing it, because it means that my opinion is valued by those who sit before me, struggling with whatever life is throwing at them.
Surely, I hear you say, that’s what you’re there for. Telling us what to do about the situations we’ve found ourselves in, how to make it better, how to choose the right path to take. I’m sorry if this comes as a disappointment to you but that’s not what counselling is. Yes, of course I’ll have my own opinion on a situation and probably have an idea of what I would want to do if I were in your shoes, but that’s exactly the point, it’s what I would do, me, not you.
When you are sat opposite me, you are seeing a culmination of my personality, my experiences, my background, my culture, my thought processes, my education … you get the drift. I may be a professional who has learnt about the patterns in people’s behaviour which can allow me to predict what it is you are experiencing, what the possible outcomes are. I might even see past what it is you are telling me into what your body, expression, eyes, and voice are telling me but what I can’t do is tell you what to think and feel, believe and want. This life is yours, someone is already living mine, but you are unique in living out yours, and there is no one else in the entire universe who is able to live it.
So what good am I then? If I can’t tell you what to do, if I can’t make a situation better what can I do? Well, l most of all I can give you space, space to be allowed to just sit and be. A space to be allowed to think and feel your whatever you want. A space where you are allowed to focus on yourself for a while without feeling like you should be doing something else. I don’t always make things easy for you though. I ask questions, I explore.
I see it like this, you open up the map of your life and I look at all the journeys and explorations which you have made. When there is a rumple I ask you to flatten it out for me a little. Sometimes I’ll ask you why you didn’t go a specific route or why you keep visiting certain areas more than once. Together we get to look in more detail at the landscapes of your life, the roads you have travelled, what has brought you to the place you are right now. It’s a process that can allow you to not only learn more about yourself but also about how you see the world around you. I can’t answer what path you should take next, but I might be able to let you see there is actually more options than you thought you had. When we are together, you are allowed to sit down and rest, no more journeying needed while we talk, just exploring the surroundings, where you’re coming from and where you want to go, then, together, we find a way for you to take the next steps of your journey.
I’m sorry I can’t answer your question of ‘what do you think I should do?’, if only life were that simple, but I can help you answer the questions for yourself, and sometimes, I can help you see questions that need asked that you have never thought of.
So how about we go on this section of your journey together? Let’s explore and learn together. Let’s go on a mini adventure within the great adventure of life. Bring your map and I’ll bring the compass and we can find you, a true you, as we go on a search for the answers to your questions.