Am I Crazy if I Go to Counseling?
Have you ever felt intense emotions of frustration and no one seems to understand what you are talking about? Welcome to the human experience! The short answer is no. The term “crazy” is often defined as someone who has “lost their mind” or “do things that make absolutely no sense.” The reality is that people do things that make sense if sometimes only to them. People do not do things that do not make sense! A child does not cry just for fun! The child is probably crying for a variety of reasons such as feeling scared, sad, or frustrated. We often feel “crazy” during life’s challenges because “we are having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.”
I like the saying “every behavior has a function.” That means everything we do has a purpose! The child who is crying may feel scared but what does the child really want? You probably guessed it; to feel comforted and safe. The question that I am always trying to answer is “what need or want is the person trying to get?” The behavior may look “crazy” on the outside simply because other people may not understand the function OR the behavior is not very effective in achieving the function. As the old adage goes "Those who dance are thought mad by those who hear not the music."
Imagine you are trying to get from where you are to the other side of the hill. Unfortunately there is a mysterious wall that is blocking you from crossing. What do you do? For some people, the logical answer is to break down the wall. The person believes “this is my problem and I am going to fix it myself.” So the person may use a sledge hammer or other power tools to break through. It doesn’t work. The person tries to hit harder. Not a dent. The person begins to feel frustrated and continues to hit the wall for an extended period of time. Nothing. After many hours of effort, the person may simply conclude that the wall cannot be tore down. Does this analogy sound like a problem in your life where you have tried everything you know how to do but nothing seems to change?
This is where counseling comes into play. Imagine a counselor comes alongside you and asks “what are you trying to do?” The person looking exhausted and frustrated would say “I am trying to tear down this wall but nothing is working!” The counselor asks an even more fundamental question “why?” The person pauses for a moment and says “I’m not sure. I just heard from someone that the other side of the hill is better.” At this point, the counselor will discuss what “better” means for the individual and to see if this is actually what the person wants. Why waste a ton of energy and emotions if the goal is not clear?
Counseling can help provide that clarity.
Let’s say that the information is clear that the view on the other side is indeed beautiful and worth the effort. The goal is clear as well as the reasons why. The counselor goes on to ask “what have you tried?” The person tells him about the sledgehammer and other tools used on the wall with no progress. This has led the person to conclude that it is impossible to break through the wall. The counselor starts by validating his efforts and lets the person know that it is completely understandable how frustrating this whole process has been as well as how important the goal must be for the person. He also works on shift the person’s belief system to find perspective that perhaps breaking the wall is impossible OR we simply have not found the way through YET.
Counseling can provide emotional and mental support.
Let’s say the person starts feeling less hopeless and more confident. The person finds this newfound energy to try again! Then the counselor begins to work with the person on describing the wall (e.g., height, width, material, etc.) to better understand and define the problem. The team begins brainstorming other approaches that have not been tried before that will help achieve the goal without necessarily breaking the wall. The person realizes the wall really is not as tall as he imagined and uses a ladder to climb over.
Counseling can empower and create space for creative solutions.
If you are experiencing some real challenges that are preventing you from living your best life now, you don’t have to figure it out alone. I’ll tell you what IS crazy: choosing to continue living a distressing life with no positive results and thinking “I can do this myself.” Seeking counseling is probably the most non-crazy thing you can do! For more blogs like this, please follow me on https://timyen.com/timyen-blog/.