It's been 11 months since I posted "a note from Chris". During that time, I've been grappling with anxiety related to the shifting dynamics of being a father and husband. Things had reached a point where I knew I needed professional support. Today, I'm writing to share my counselling experience and to destigmatise the act of seeking help for men.
As someone who advocates for counselling to support others, it was hard to admit that I needed it myself. I had always believed that I knew how to take care of myself and that counselling was for others. Admitting that I needed support made me question my whole persona as a coach, the security of my relationships, and who I was at my core. I had to admit that I was lost and had no clear path forward.
Talking about this experience is still challenging for me. As a grown man, a professional coach, and a father, I felt like I should have been able to say "things are not okay, and I need help."
During my counselling sessions, I learned a few things that have helped me move forward. One of the most important lessons was that putting your "but" in the way is rarely helpful. In my first session, every comment I made was followed up with "but I know what to do." I had collapsed the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it. Recognizing that "but" was an ego-protecting phrase allowed me to focus on taking action instead of making excuses.
I also learned that it's essential to be careful about what you hook onto. For a long time, I had been ruminating on problems and spending much of my days in my head playing out possible scenarios that rarely came true. I had a myopic view of the world, and I couldn't let it go. I love the phrase "no problem is as big as you think it is after you have finished thinking of it." However, when you're hooked into one negative view, the world seems smaller.
The most significant shift for me was realising that there is always a choice. We're hardwired to protect ourselves from threats, but not all threats are real. Counselling reminded me that I could choose to see actions and comments from others through a lens of love and them merely dealing with life happening instead of deliberate malice and hate. This realisation was freeing, and I could choose to move towards love instead of protection from perceived threats.
After making space to see above the cloud, my counselling sessions moved onto reminding me of what I deem important and creating tools to prime my interactions. Starting with love for myself and others was a crucial first step. It's impossible to hold onto hatred and love at the same time. It's impossible to demonize others or assume the worst when you approach from a good place. Once I opened up and became present, it became easier to be around others, interact with them, and move towards where I wanted to be.
I value growing and creating experiences to remember, and these only happen when I make choices to move forward, hook onto hope and optimism, assume the best, and take action to make it happen.
Life is still not all sunshine and rainbows, and I find the dynamic of being a father and husband to be difficult and I am still grappling with goals that may be too big for me. However, I can express that there is space for me to move forward, hold onto something brighter, and keep taking action on the knowledge I possess.
This has been a cathartic exercise for me but more importantly I want to stress the importance of seeking help when you need it. It's okay to admit that
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