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Why We Need Professional Counseling

Why We Need Professional Counseling
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The world we live in today comes with a lot of pressure from all aspects of life; it could be work, family, health, the environment, politics and even problems from around the world. Whether you admit it or not, we often succumb to these pressures and wish that there was someone who could shoulder the burden for us. The best among us have to qualms sharing their problems with friends, family or even strangers. Unfortunately, there is another category of people who would rather take their problems to the grave than give an inkling to their suffering. This article may help change your mind.

Professional counseling

Even the boldest people in the society are often quick to dismiss the notion of seeking professional help to deal with certain matters. The idea of sitting in a counselor’s office going through the chapters of your life seems like a strange notion, and some people will even call it cowardly. They prefer to drown out their sorrows in a bottle of their favorite liquor and dance the night away hoping that their worries will find another victim. Well, victim or not, we all need to let off steam at some point in our lives. While some of us need it need more than others, there is no victim in the counseling room, only a winner determined to stay sane. So, what type of problems can counselors solve?

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Common problems solved by counselors

Professional counselors do more than getting into your business; they listen with the intent to unearth the source of your issues in a bid to help YOU, deal with your issues better. After a round of counseling sessions, the patient signs off equipped with tools to cope with the particular issues. The most common problems that call for professional help are as follows:

1. Drug addiction and alcoholism

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Many additions that plague today’s society ranging from television, the internet, gambling, food additions, etc. However, alcohol and drug dependency is top of the list of addictions that many citizens grapple with from day to day. Alcohol addiction can stem from childhood problems, the pressures at work, bad relationships with family or spouses, significant losses, etc. Whatever the source of the dependency, alcohol and drug addictions have ruined lives and shattered families for generations. If you need a chemical substance to cope with everyday responsibilities, seek professional help before you begin a downward spiral that leads to bigger problems such as failing health and even death. You may ask, why do people get addicted or hooked? The lucky among us can enjoy a sundowner every day or drinking binges while on vacation and still, resume our normal lives. Count your lucky stars because not everyone can manage this. A therapist with experience in this field will be the first to admit that treating alcoholism is an arduous journey that cannot guarantee results. It is common for patients to get ‘cured’ only to fall right back after a couple of months or years. The rule to surviving alcoholism is taking it one day at a time and staying away from triggers.

2. Stress and depression

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Mental disorders are a common problem in society, but we tend to downplay them to avoid opening the proverbial Pandora’s box. We face everyday stressors such as work, family, business, endless bills, etc. While a little bit of stress is essential to keep up on our toes, too much of it can easily progress to something bigger. Mental health is a vital part of our general well-being, and it is for this reason why professional counselors will recommend distressing now and then. Take a few moments from your day to appreciate yourself and the amazing things you are trying to accomplish. This little break will not only relieve stress but also boost your enthusiasm to tackle tasks that lay ahead. Most people often interchange the term stress and depression. While the two may stem from similar issues, they are completely different animals. Depression is much more advanced and requires professional counseling to manage. Find the best therapist for you and stick to the program.

3. Relationship problems

This type of problem is all so familiar to many of us who have gone through bad relationships with lovers, siblings, parents, coworkers, neighbors and even the mailman! As professional counselors will tell you, our tendency to fall into a series of poor relationships can stem from our childhood. Your therapist will ask “What happened to you as a child?” If you are the recipient of this question, you may be tempted to think that the doctor is fishing for material to fill up the hour for billing purposes. Who can blame you? Your counselor is right to ask this question because our childhood has a lot do to do with how we relate to people in our adult life.

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Conclusion

If you have suffered a trauma and cannot stop pondering about it, make an appointment with a therapist at the earliest opportunity. Seek a therapist outside your home area if this makes you more comfortable.

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Vikas Agrawal

Vikas is the co-founder of Infobrandz, an Infographic design agency that offers creative visual content solutions to medium to large companies.

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Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly
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Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

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After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

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Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

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Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

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Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

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