The Road Not Traveled

Photo by MacKenzi Martin on Unsplash

Have you ever believed you wanted something so much that you could not see your way past it? You believed that it was the only way you would be happy or successful. I have.

And I was utterly wrong.

I went back to college after going to work at a local high school to become a counselor. My course of study would allow me to be a school counselor or a clinical counselor or both. I was utterly convinced I wanted to be a school counselor.

There were so many kids who needed help and I wanted to be there to help them. Or so I believed with my whole heart and mind.

I loved working at the school. I sponsored a poetry club and started a literary arts magazine that was published yearly through fundraising and donations. I volunteered to work dances and sporting events. I worked in whatever capacity I was needed while going to school full time, doing counseling internships, and working part-time at a residential treatment facility.

I made friends there and formed bonds that are still there with many of the students and some of the staff. I believed that being a school counselor was the only job I wanted. It was the only road I wished to travel.

And I was completely wrong.

I finished my degrees, two of them, and my internships and waited for a school counseling opening at the school. The joyous day arrived when there was not only one opening there were two. I believed that this was going to be the culmination of all my hard work and desire.

After all, I had given so much of myself in the last seven years to this school and the people in it. How could this not be my dream come true?

I completed the application process and the interview panel. I felt good about my future. I was encouraged by other staff that all would be well and I would finally get the job I so desperately believed I wanted.

And I was unbelievably wrong.

I did not get either job that was open. I was absolutely crushed. I fell apart completely. I went to my car and sat in the parking lot for two hours crying and then I went home and cried for several more days. My dream was gone.

I felt like a complete failure. How could this happen and why? What was I going to do now? I felt that nothing I had done for the school, for my education, for myself had any value.

And I was absolutely wrong.

I picked myself up after I stopped crying and decided not to be defeated. I left the school two weeks later having given my notice and went to work full time at the residential facility for girls with severe trauma and addiction where I had been working part-time for my clinical counselor licensing hours.

I loved working with those girls. Their lives were the kinds of stories you see sometimes and cannot believe that such evil can be perpetrated on a child. They hated me and they loved me. But in so many of their lives, I made a difference. A difference that for some of them completely changed everything for them.

A little over a year later, I went into private practice full time seeing some of those same girls and many others from local middle and high schools along with adult women all with complex trauma. I was happy, fulfilled, and successful. I recently expanded my practice adding another therapist to serve even more people in our city.

I still make use of my school counseling license and education, so in a way, I am still a school counselor just not in a school.

It took me almost a year after that devastating day to realize that if I had gotten the job in the school, I would have been miserable and unfulfilled. School counselors in high school don’t have a lot of time to counsel kids in crisis. They spend a lot of time in meetings, doing scheduling, proctoring testing, and being involved in interpersonal drama at the school where I worked to have much time to see kids who really need it.

I would have been heartbroken to see a kid I knew needed help and have to tell them that I had to go to a meeting. Being a school counselor would not have worked for me.

So often we can convince ourselves that something we believe will make us happy is the only road to travel. Many times we learn that it is the road we never thought to travel that is the way to being truly happy and successful.

And I am ecstatic that I was wrong.

Sometimes it is completely okay to be wrong.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

Be Happy Where You Are

photo of woman looking at the mirror
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Many times we find ourselves being unhappy with where we are. We wish and hope that things will change. We want something, possibly everything, to be different. We cannot seem to be able to be happy right where we are.

I was reading the book The Four Agreements in bits and pieces again between clients this last week. I kept coming back to doing your best. We often can think and then feel that whatever we are doing, where ever we are, we are LESS than. It is not good enough. But in doing your best, it is WHATEVER we are capable of doing at that moment.

Some days, where we are is just awake lying in bed. But our best on that day is being awake lying in bed. Other days, we get up and sit in a chair or on the sofa. On that day, our best is in the getting up and sitting somewhere else. Still other days, we get up, get dressed, and accomplish a single task like brushing our teeth. On this day, our best is doing one single task.

Where we are takes on many shapes. It changes from moment to moment. Where we are can be difficult or it can be easy. Even so, sometimes when it is easy, we are still not happy where we are because we search for something more or find something else that needs to change.

Stop right now and notice where you are. What are you doing? Where are you? What can you see, touch, smell, hear, taste? Tell your mind that you are happy in this moment, right now. You don’t have to be happy about a specific thing, just in this moment I think happy, I feel happy. And smile.

How we think is how we feel, not the other way around. Work this week to be happy where ever you are and practice it over and over. Notice how thinking happy makes you feel happy. Be happy where ever you are.

Until next time,
Deborah

Just Be Happy

So many times, people will say to me, everyone tells me to just be happy. The next thing they usually say is, I can’t just be happy. Which, is true, and then again, it isn’t true. They believe they cannot just be happy, and so they are not. But it is not true that they cannot just be happy, if they pay attention to the thoughts that dominate their minds.

I usually follow up with the question, why are you not happy? And 9 times out of 10, I get the answer, I don’t know. Which, is true, and then again, it isn’t true. If there are many negative, self-defeating, self-doubting, self-judging thoughts in their minds, they truly may not be able to pick just one and say, THIS is why I am not happy. But it isn’t true that they truly do not know any reason why they are not happy. People know why they are not happy. They know what they think. They know what thoughts they believe. Acknowledging these things however, is another story entirely.

The next time you find yourself feeling unhappy, stop, and examine the thoughts you have been thinking. Truly look at them. Writing them down is even better, that way you can actually see them. What are you thinking when you are unhappy? It’s not just, I’m unhappy. There were a lot of thoughts leading up to that point. Are the thoughts about yourself? Are they about how you see yourself compared to others? Are they about yourself in relationships? Are they about yourself and your work? Are they about yourself and your grades? Are they about yourself and your family? Notice, every one of those questions included yourself. Almost every negative thought we have includes us. We may say, I am unhappy because my mother expects me to be perfect and think that is only about our mother. It is about how we FEEL about what our mother is projecting onto us. It is about how we feel that we cannot be perfect or good enough. It is NOT about our mother. Every thought has to be examined for what it says about us.

And this is where the trouble comes. If we have to acknowledge that our unhappiness is because of what we think, feel, believe about ourselves and not about others or outside events, then we have to do work on ourselves. We always prefer to have others change, to have events change, but to have ourselves change, that is where we draw the line. And why do we do this? Because we are afraid of what happens if we do change. Because we live in fear.

If we want to just be happy, we have to just be willing to come to the truth of why we are not happy. Start by looking in the mirror and asking questions and really digging down to the bottom line – I am the reason I cannot just be happy and how do I change the only thing I can change – myself.

Until next time,
Deborah

I am currently accepting new clients (adolescent and adult females) for counseling. Please call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com to schedule an initial consultation.