Becoming a counsellor is without doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done. However, it hasn’t come without a cost! It is so different from any course I have ever studied and one of the most challenging. I knew it would be difficult because there were essays, presentations, case studies, and more to do but I was not prepared for the emotional side of it! The following post includes two areas of my life that the course highlighted, the good and the not-so-good! Hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment below.
Getting to Know Myself
The more theory I learned, and class exercises we did, the more I got to learn about myself. Personal development groups were particularly good for this. I learned that I was kind, caring, and compassionate to others. It soon became apparent that my self-worth was really low, so I was able to work on this (and still am) especially in personal therapy. Knowing this has highlighted to me how I allow myself to be treated. Now I am much more assertive with others and with myself. I have learned to get to know the real me and I have learned to love myself. Loving myself has enabled me to place importance on caring for myself. I spend hours a week just sitting on the beach. I have massages, rests, afternoon naps, paint my nails, and lots more self-care. And I have learned to say no!
I also know that I enjoy my own company and that spending time by myself is comforting whereas before I really didn’t like spending time by myself. I have been away on my own for three nights in a hotel by the sea. This was an amazing time for me, I felt very brave doing it because I have never been away on my own.
The Not so Good!
Unfortunately, I realised that I had quite a few character defects! Pride was something I had no idea that I struggled with. I particularly had difficulty asking for help. I had the mentality of thinking ‘I should be able to manage anything on my own! I became aware that I had always had this way of thinking and that I was afraid to ask for help!
Anger was another area I found out I had a problem with. I knew I was angry about some life events, but I didn’t realise that it was affecting me so much!
The next thing I am about to say is something I never imagined I would come to know, and I certainly did not think I would ever admit it! I can be an absolute brat especially when I don’t get my own way! I named this part of my character Angelica. If you have ever seen the Rugrats cartoon, then you will know who I am talking about!
I feel that I have become a better parent by becoming a counsellor. Actively listening to my children was something I started to do very soon after starting my counseling training. I have always thought ‘why don’t my children just say what their problems are’? But they always did, I just didn’t listen. A profound moment for me was when my teenage son was having an emotional talk with me. I was just about to say something and instead, I stopped myself. Then after a length of silence, he started to talk. If I had not allowed the gap and filled it like I would have usually done, then I wouldn’t have heard what was going on for him. My relationships with all three of my children have strengthened and I believe this is down to learning to listen, having empathy, and having an understanding of people’s behaviour.
The Not so Good!
I was absolutely dreading learning about attachment theory. I had my first child at the age of twenty and was in a very different place from where I was when I had my second and third child. So, I knew that learning about the bond between a main caregiver and child in those all-important early years was going to cause me massive feelings of regret and remorse. When the time came to learn about it, I really struggled and gave myself such a hard time. Fortunately, I was having personal therapy and was able to go through it with my counsellor. This was one of the hardest things I had to learn about myself, I knew I felt rubbish about my parenting, but I had no idea just how deep my feelings of guilt were.
Another struggle was thinking about how different I could have been with my children if I had done the counselling course years ago! I thought about how I could have listened more, and how I could have had more understanding which would have allowed me more tolerance! So many if only’s!
All in all, I am so glad I am a counsellor. I would never have got to be my true self and my relationship with my children is good. I am not the perfect parent, not by a long shot! I make errors just like other parents, but I can say that I am a good enough parent and that is good enough!