Learning from Yourself

by Melanie Rathgeber, MC, MA, RCC

One of the questions I often ask clients is “What can you learn from another area of your life?”.

Clients usually can name what skills or strategies have worked well for them in the past, it’s just that when they have low mood or are anxious, it can be hard to tap into what they know works.  If I can get them to think outside of their current challenge or situation, it can become clearer.

For example, if a client is feeling worried about a family situation and having a hard time managing the anxiety, I might ask “How do you manage anxiety in your career?”.  Even though it is a different area of life, the strengths are often transferable.

In counselling, we often think about different areas of life, or domains, such as:

  • Immediate family
  • Extended family
  • Marriage or intimate relationships
  • Friendships and social life
  • Community
  • Wellbeing and lifestyle
  • Career, employment or education

Even though our roles in these varied areas may feel different, it can still help to draw upon successes we’ve achieved in those areas. Sometimes even just pausing to think about a past success, or something you are proud of, can give you enough of a boost to feel a bit more hopeful about your current situation.

A few more examples that you may be able to ask yourself:

  • “How have I successfully handled similar situations in my workplace?”
  • “How did I manage to make changes in my lifestyle (exercise, leisure activities, healthy living, etc.)?”
  • “What tools or strategies did I use when I was feeling overwhelmed by all my community responsibilities?”

You might not find a direct answer, but think about the skills and strengths that have helped you in those other areas of life. How can you draw out that same underlying attribute for your current challenge? One small shift in thinking can help you to realize and to believe that you do indeed possess the skills to manage, to cope, to change, and to succeed. Learning to identify those skills and to draw them out — learning from yourself — is a good step.

Melanie offers individual counselling sessions at Rocky Point Wellness Clinic on Mondays and Fridays. Click here to learn more about Melanie.