Putting out fires vs. being on the front foot in life Written by Brendan Mooney Psychologist
Most people tend to seek a psychologist or counsellor when they are experiencing an issue, dilemma or problem of some kind. For example, they may be experiencing depression, anxiety, having relationship difficulties or struggling to keep up with the demands of their work. Counselling can be a great support for people to address these difficult or challenging areas in their lives.
Although there is another approach to counselling that is perhaps undervalued. This approach is when a person seeks counseling not because they have an issue or problem as such, but because they would like to deepen their lives in some way. They may be starting to become aware of a greater potential in their lives, and although everything is going well, they would like to expand their life in some way. For example, they may have a great relationship with their partner but would like to deepen it even further.
There is a big difference between the above two approaches, for the first one is more about putting out fires whereas the second is about preventing the fires in the first place.
But why is the first approach much more common?
Perhaps we could ask the same question in another way…
Why do we wait until there is a catastrophe until we decide to seek support?
When we wait for a small issue to become a big issue, by this time we are typically experiencing a lot of intensity making addressing the issue a lot more difficult. Here we are ‘catching up’ on something that has been left unresolved for a while. Whereas the second approach is about being on the front foot in your life, going deeper and stepping into a greater potential– which prevents the problems from occurring in the first place.
Seeking support only when there is a crisis is unwise, and unfortunately for many once the initial crisis is over they go back to life as usual only to find another crisis comes along at some point in the future.
But does life have to be so dramatic?
Would it not make more sense to commit to a continual deepening within ourselves, working on all aspects of our lives before any become a problem?
Have we considered that receiving support is a natural part of living as a human being? And this support may not need to come from a professional, but from a family member or friend. For many civilizations throughout history, people sought counsel from those who could offer understanding, and this was seen as a normal part of living. Although in modern times we seem to have largely lost this aspect of community living, with many preferring to soldier on without support unless it becomes unbearable.
And on a deeper note…
What if our issues are created because we have a habit of getting comfortable in life? In other words, when we perceive that our lives are going ok and there are no obvious ‘problems’, we tend to start cruising in life rather than continue to work on going deeper. What if this comfortable way of living creates the bedrock for issues to insidiously grow, and eventually an issue surfaces seemingly ‘out of the blue’. For example, when a person is on the verge of a relationship breakup they want to prevent, they typically put in an enormous amount of dedicated effort to save the relationship. But the question is: why don’t we bring this same amount of dedication and conviction when thereare no problems?
More will be written in an upcoming series of articles on this topic. If you would like to read more be sure to subscribe to receive email updates.
BIOGRAPHY Psychologist Brendan Mooney works with adults, adolescents and children. With a genuine interest in people's well-being, Brendan brings a warmth, practicality and an equality that supports clients to truly address underlying issues and blockages that are preventing them from moving forward.