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High Achievers Utilize Counselling

People have so many different ideas as to what counselling is about, what it is like, and who it is for.  I get comments from many different people who seem to suggest that counselling is really for those people who are experiencing a crisis or are not managing life well.  They seem to suggest that you would only go for counselling when you really “need” counselling.  The problem with this outlook is that it suggests stigma and shame associated with what it means to go for counselling.  From my perspective, the people I see as clients are amazing.  They are courageous, open minded, and striving to become their best selves.  They are authentic, real, and I respect them so much as they look at making changes in their lives that will enhance their lives. 

In other words, these people who “do counselling” are not lesser, but greater for it.  They don’t want to continue going down the average path.  They strive for more.  So, why do High Achievers do counselling?  Here are a few of the top reasons.

High Achievers Do Counselling to Become More Organized and Effective. Just like any workplace or organization, they more organized a workplace is, the more effective and efficient they are at accomplishing what they want to accomplish.  This is so true in a person’s life as well.  When your thoughts are disorganized, it can impact your choices and impact your life negatively.  A High Achiever’s business always works to become organized.  So, they use counselling to enhance their thinking and decision-making process. 

High Achievers Do Counselling To Get Support, Build Resources, and Enhance Skills.  Any professional in any field knows that professional development is essential if they are going to work long term in their industry.  Those who do not do professional development tend to lose their “cutting edge” ability to be innovative.  They tend to get into a rut regarding their thinking or how they work.  So, many professionals do counselling to refine the way they work, the way they see the world, and to enhance their personal lives. They see counselling as an opportunity to have a devoted person who is completely “in their court” and who can not only give support but also build the person’s personal and professional resources and skills. 

High Achievers Do Counselling To Increase Their Self-Awareness.  Self-awareness is a sought-after commodity these days.  We have all had a boss who would regularly lose their temper.  Even more problematic is the boss who is aware they tend to “blow up” but does not understand why.  High Achievers look inside themselves.  They use counselling to understand their relationship with themselves, and to improve their relationship with themselves.  They more one understands themselves and builds a positive relationship with themselves, the better their relationship will be with others.  Counselling greatly increases self-awareness and is key to enhancing your relationship with yourself.

High Achievers Do Counselling to Enhance Resiliency.  Let’s admit it – life can be very difficult at times.  Life can through us a “curve ball” and to pretend that the curve ball did not have an impact on us is like pretending we to not hurt when we accidentally use a hammer on our thumb.  Of course, it hurts.  Our body has pain receptors in our thumb that communicate with our brain the amount of screaming pain we are in.  However, if we then squeeze our thumb, the pain diminishes, and we recover faster.  Why?  Because there are pressure sensors in our thumb and when we gently squeeze our thumb, it helps to partially block the pain receptors from continuing to communicate pain.  Resiliency is that ability to “bounce back” and recover from adversity.  High Achievers use counselling to enhance their own recovery process.  They see counselling as a tool to become more resilient so that when the curve ball happens in their own life, they are more capable to bounce back.

High Achievers Do Counselling To Enhance Their Motivation.  Many times, we can know what we need to do, but we lack the motivation.  We may want to bring positive change into our lives, but we struggle with the motivation to do it.  High Achievers use counselling to find different ways to approach change.  There are many specific processes in counselling that can enhance the motivation for changing what you want to change in your life.  Ambivalence or reluctance to make change in our lives is normal.  We might say we want change, but we may lack to ability to get there.  A good counsellor can greatly enhance your motivation to become who it is you really want to be. 

High Achievers Do Counselling To Invest in Themselves.  Yes, many times the saying, “you get what you pay for” is true, but we don’t normally apply it to our hearts and minds.  We might invest in our clothing, in our education or training, and in our physical heath, but High Achievers invest in their mental health. They know that good mental and emotional health is just as important as good physical health.  They invest time, money, and energy into their physical fitness.  Likewise, they also invest in their mental fitness. Doing so increases their resourcefulness, their meaning within their lives, and their overall sense of wellbeing.  Ultimately, they invest in themselves to feel more in control of their lives and to create the life they want. 

So, I have been privileged to work with many High Achievers.  It is always such an honour to be a part of their journey, their process, and their growth.  Their courage, drive, and resiliency inspire me.  If you can, find someone who has had a great experience in counselling and ask them why it was valuable to them.  It might inspire you to invest in yourself to become the person you really want to be and to move closer towards the life you want to live.  

 

Beating Negative Self-Talk Before it beats you

So many people I work with struggle with how they feel about themselves.  Many people struggle with depression and don’t want to admit it because it is unacceptable to them.  Yet they question their, attractiveness, lovability, intelligence, level of success and even their worth.  What many do not realize is that how they feel about themselves is directly related to the thoughts and beliefs that they have about themselves.  For how we think affects how we feel.

THE TRAP

It astonishes me the number of people who essentially believe that they have no real control over how they think – let alone how they think about themselves.  Thus, they make the assumption that they are forever trapped by negative beliefs and thoughts about themselves.  And the gate that encages them is their belief that nothing can change how they think about themselves.

THE PLUMMETING CYCLE

The way it usually works for people is that they tend to work hard at trying to forget or avoid how they think about themselves.  They may do this in lots of different ways including humour, drinking, drugs, busyness, watching TV, and continually socializing.  But then something happens.  Usually it is something small.  It could be something someone says, or being asked to do something you don’t like doing but say you will do anyways, or it could be simply losing your keys, not getting an A on a report card, or your kids acting up in some way. 

But whatever it is that happens, it becomes the trigger – a trigger to the start of an onslaught of negative condemning self-talk.  And as you hear the terrible words in your own head, you begin a negative emotional spiral downwards, plummeting down till you hit the bottom emotionally. 

Some common examples of negative self-talk that people experience are:

  • “You’ll never amount to anything.”
  • “You’re a failure.”
  • “You’re no good.”
  • “You’re a screw up and always will be a screw up.”
  • “You’re ugly.”
  • “You not lovable or worth loving."
  • “You’re so stupid.”

There are many more; but, these examples of negative self-talk invade the thoughts of the individual creating depression, self loathing, and anger.  The cycle usually ends with the individual trying once again to get distance from their emotions.  They distract themselves and with time they recover until the next trigger.

OUR BRAIN WORKS AGAINST US

You see our brain actually works against us in this plummeting cycle.  Our brain has natural tendencies to continually look for associations.  This is how we learn.  We associate “bright red glow” with “hot” and maybe with “pain”.  However, when we have a trigger that starts the negative self-talk, our brain naturally looks for all associations we have to that negative thinking which only exacerbates the problem and makes us feel worse.

For example, when a person receives a phone call that a friend has to cancel getting together with them.  This could be a trigger to start the negative self-talk of something like - “You’re not lovable. Nobody will ever really like you.”  And as this thinking progresses, all associations through out one’s entire history that may add weight to this belief is brought to the surface and the emotional devastation follows.

WANT TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF?  FIGHT FOR IT!

If you want to change how you think and feel about yourself, it mean’s that you are going to have to fight for it.  Changing your thinking requires commitment to a plan.  So, what can you do to begin to fight back and not allow these negative thinking patterns to hurt you?  There are many ways to address negative self-talk, but, here is a simple 5 step effective process for beating it:

  1. List Your Negative Self-Talk Statements - You need to know who your enemy is if you are going to do battle.  Thus write down all of the statements in your head that come when you start to emotionally plummet.  Start each statement with “You …”, from the perspective of hearing someone else saying them to you.  After you have done this identify which one is the worst for you – which one is a real zinger that gets you every time.
  2. Identify the Lie - Take a 3x5 card and on the top line write the following line filling in your own zinger negative self-talk statement:‚Äč   Lie: “You… (and the rest of your negative self-statement).”As much as you may sometimes believe the lie to be a truth, does not actually make a truth.  People can believe awful lies about themselves.  So declare it for what it is – a lie.
  3. Identify the Empowering Truth On the very next line, write the following: Truth:  I am… (and fill in the rest of your truth statement).  Your truth statement must smash to bits the lie statement that emotionally attacks you.  It is the truth that shall set you free, so it is important that what you write truly is the truth.  Obviously you can not overcome a lie with another lie.  It doesn’t work very well. If your lie was “You’re a failure”, an example of a truth statement might be: “I am a successful person because I continue to try and always seek growth in my life.” If you lie was: “Your not lovable or worthy of love”, an example of a truth statement might be: “I am a worthy person who cares for others and deserves care in return.”
  4. Prove Your Truth!  Once you know the lie that you are trying to battle against and you have the truth as a statement of defense, there is still more important information you will need.  Take the rest of your card and in point form write out all of the proof that would prove your truth to be the truth and the lie a lie.  Write out a list that fills the card front and back.
  5. Put The Game Plan Into Action!   Now that you have your card, you need to know what to do with it.  Take control of your negative thinking patterns by following this 5 step action plan:
    1. Carry the card with you at all times.
    2. Become aware of when you are being attacked by your negative self-talk.
    3. When you become aware of an attack, SHOUT  “STOP!” (inside your head).
    4. Pull out your card and review the card in its entirety.  If you can do it out loud, all the better. 
    5. Repeat this every time the negative self-talk begins.

If you are faithful to doing it, you will begin to see and feel results within a couple of weeks.  If you can even memorize your entire card and review it in your head it will implant positive thinking at a time when you may need it the most.  You can dramatically change how you feel about yourself.  Although it does require some work up front, the benefits are great.  Give it a try.  Or if you need some help doing it, contact a counsellor you feel comfortable with and talk to them about your negative self-talk.  Taking action now can change and improve the rest of your life.

Is Your Engine Light On?

A lot of people ask me, "Russ, how do I know when I might need counselling?" This is a good question. Many think that counselling is for when life is falling apart. Certainly, getting good support and resources for helping you navigate putting the pieces back together again, is critical. However, counseling is really an opportunity to grow, enhance and deepen our understanding of ourselves and our relationships. Many people wait too long to address a problem in their life.

        If their car engine light was on, they would take it in to be checked out fairly quickly. However, when it comes to their emotional struggles, relationship difficulties, or work stress, they ignore the "engine light" for weeks, months, and even years. Only when the engine of their relationship is about to fall out, do they then decide to invest in the addressing the issue - which is really an investment in themselves and in their relationship.

So what can tell you if your engine light is on? Here are a few questions to consider. If you answer "yes" to any of them, your engine light is "on" and it is time address it before more damage is done:

  1. Do you have unfinished emotional business in your life that you know you are avoiding?
  2. Are there physical or relationship symptoms (physical ailments, fatigue, insomnia, stomach problems, distance in your relationship, unresolved conflicts) in your life that point to the fact there are unresolved issues that are hurting you and your relationship?
  3. Are you engaged in activities or behaviours (drinking, drugging, numbing out with TV, over exercising, etc.) to intentionally soothe or distract you from pain in your life?
  4. Are you withdrawing from people, situations, and especially supports in your life?
  5. Are you feeling stuck emotionally, relationally, spiritually in your life and can't seem to get unstuck?
  6. Are you overwhelmed by a problem, issue, relationship, and just wish it would go away?
  7. Have you been stressed out by life for more than 3 months and you don't see relief coming in the future?
  8. Have you or others found that you "just aren't the same person" you used to be because of an event, situation that you have gone through?
  9. Do you know that you are your own worst enemy and that you battle with negative thinking about yourself, others, and life?
  10. Have you lost spiritual faith, meaning, or hope, that you once had and wished you had it again?

These are just a few indicators that your engine light is on. Sometimes, a person can even get used to living their life with their engine light always on. This state becomes their new "normal". This new "normal" is really a chronically unhealthy lifestyle and places the person in a much higher risk for greater problems down the road.

So, take some time to look at your own life and see if your "engine light might be on". And if so, reach out and do something about it. You will never regret attending to the "engine light" in your life.

If reading this made you think of someone in your life who's engine light may be on, share this with them as a way of caring about them.

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