One of the most fascinating things about studying to be a clinical mental health counselor is studying varying theories on how people believe change happens.  Some people believe you have to address the past in order to gain insights into the present moment. Others believe having insight is less important than finding effective solutions for current concerns.  Some believe it’s our thoughts that create our emotions and behaviors,  Others believe a more philosophical approach about how our inevitable mortality can spur us to take ownership of our lives.  Still, others believe our subconscious informs our reactions to life. There are hundreds of theories and, in all honesty, I don’t know exactly where I stand but, I can say, I’m completely riveted by the conversation.  

How do you believe personal change happens? What have you done to create change in your life?  Was it a change in your actions?  In your thoughts?  In your behavior? In your environment?  Perhaps a combination?  And, what prompted you to make those changes?  If an action comes to mind, like, I stopped eating fast-food or I now regularly exercise, then what compelled you to take that action? You see, the beauty of asking these questions about how you believe you made changes in your life is that it empowers you to better understand how to look on your struggles in a way that can empower you toward what it is you are desiring for it.  

How much of who you are do you believe comes from your childhood experiences?  Do you believe that this is the time in a person’s life when they begin to develop beliefs about themselves, others, and the world?  Do you believe that this is when we discover the desire for love, safety, and belonging?  Perhaps you don’t believe in the need for love, safety, and belonging as key forces to shape a mindset?  The fascinating part is, you don’t have to!  You can believe whatever is true to you!  It’s about discovering what that is that then allows you to find the kind of guidance and resources that could serve your life for the betterment.  Many theories contend that addressing childhood experiences is essential to discovering insights about why we do what we do, or think what we think.  What about you?  Do you feel that addressing childhood challenges is of importance to maintaining lasting change in your life?  Why do you believe that?  What about those memories; do you feel is or isn’t a valuable aspect of the life you are seeking to have?  What I have discovered now, as I counsel others, is that people’s past is always in the present.  However, it’s not for me to say how valuable it is to address that past for change to occur for them in a positive way in their lives.  Now, where I do my internship, we utilize one particular theory that does investigate the past to discover thoughts that one has formed about themselves, others, and the world, that are impacting their current behaviors.  Note though, that this theory is what we call, evidence-based, which means it’s the most researched, and thus the most widely accepted.  But, that doesn’t make it the most useful necessarily.  

Where I conduct my internship, we slowly peel back the layers of each area of a person’s life. We review their childhood and family history, their social system, their relationships, their current environment, their career, their physical activity and health, their emotional state, their thought patterns, their coping strategies, their stressors, their spirituality… basically, we investigate all areas of the client’s life.  We don’t give advice or offer solutions, but rather, help the person unravel the mysteries within their life until they feel confident in how they want to make changes.  We do offer tools, or skills, toward that process, but more so to help the individual better identify with who they are under the layers of obstacles they experience.  

Think about a challenge in your life and perhaps consider if there are perspectives, other than the one you are currently holding, that might also be true.  Consider allowing yourself to daydream from that alternate perspective.  If that perspective were true, how would you be different?  What if you could even go so far as to embody that difference for an hour or so, what does that feel like?  You see, whatever you believe about change, I am confident everyone is capable of empowering themselves and aligning their lives to a place of true fulfillment.  What do you believe?

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