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  • Writer's pictureAntonia Higgins

2. “Life should be fine; why should I have counselling?” Because stress can creep up on you

In blog 1 of this series ~ Because prevention is better than cure ~ I talked about some of the limiting thoughts that might prevent someone from accessing counselling. Once you overcome those and make that first appointment, what then? What might we discuss? Read on...

Setting the Scene

To anyone looking in, you’re living a good life ~ you’re successful, comfortable, loved. You feel like you have everything that you should need to be happy. But you’re not, and it feels like something’s missing.

What’s going on in you?

You’ve noticed that you’re finding it hard to ‘switch your brain off’ and you’re quicker to anger than usual. You feel tired more quickly, you’re not going to the gym anymore and you’ve started having a glass or two of wine most nights because it helps you sleep.

You feel ashamed that you are taking for granted the people and things you have in your life. You’re sure everyone else would pass harsh judgements on you if you told them how you feel and what’s going on. You imagine that nobody would be very sympathetic to your ‘first world problems’ so you just keep quiet. After all, you’re giving yourself a hard enough time as it is, without the rest of the world joining in! You assume that if you just focus on your family and your work the feelings will go away. But you’ve been doing that for weeks now, and it doesn’t seem to be working.

So, what’s that all about?

There’s a lot of negative self-talk going on here, and you’re judging yourself very harshly. You don’t seem to have much tolerance for yourself about this which can mean that you will avoid thinking deeply about it because it feels like ‘a waste of time’ or might even feel shameful. You just don’t know how to get yourself out of this slump you’re in.

How could counselling help?

As a counsellor, lots of things spring to my mind when I read this story. From what I know of the situation I could guess at what might be going on underneath it based on my experience of working with similar stories. And I’d check those assumptions out with you. I’m also curious about the bits I don’t know and what you haven’t told me yet.

I want to know more about your life story so that I have a context to help me understand what’s going on for you now. I will empathise with you and acknowledge your struggle without judgement. We’ll talk about your life ~ family, school, previous jobs, anything that feels important or relevant to you ~ and about any significant feelings about these people, relationships and experiences. This helps me to understand you better; to see your life through your lens.

You tell me that you have always wanted to do things perfectly; you find it difficult to say ‘no’ and you are the person everybody comes to with their problems. You want to make people happy so you help everybody, whether you have time to or not. You feel like you’ve ‘lost yourself’ because you change according to who you’re with. You’re exhausted because you feel like you are ‘playing a part’ all the time and can’t be your real self.

You also admit that the ‘good job’ you have is not what you ever imagined yourself doing. You followed the career path that other people thought would be best for you because it gave you a good chance of job security. But actually, what you really wanted to do was follow your heart and pursue your passion, even though it was risky. But there had been no support for that decision, so you took the ‘sensible route’ and forgot about your dream career. Now you feel ‘trapped’ in a career you don’t enjoy because you have a family who rely on you and bills that need to be paid. So you carry on.

You know that you need to change something, but you’re not quite sure where to start, what you’ll do, or how you’ll do it. You hope that talking to a counsellor who is objective and ‘outside the situation’ will help you to decide what to do.

Look out for the final blog of the series: Blog 3 ~ “My life should be fine; why should I have counselling?” Because counselling can make you stronger.

This considers the worries and fears that could relate to the issues in blog 2 and talks about some of the thoughts, feelings and ideas that I might explore with a client.

I hope you find these blogs interesting and helpful. If you’d like to read more of my musings you can subscribe to my blog at, follow me on Facebook at or LinkedIn at

New blogs will be published on Fridays.

*These blogs are based on a hypothetical issues that can be explored in counselling and not on specific, real-life client cases.

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