Counselling, whether it is in the secular or Christian Counselling framework, is all about change. To be precise, it is about changing from within. We do not wait for the holidays to come in order for us to rest and we don’t have to rely for that great relationship to materialize in order for us to be happy.
In counselling, we decide to change our thinking styles and attitudes into the restful and the happy mindset as soon as we can; independent of the external environment. This is what true empowerment means, we realize that we are not dependent on environmental forces; we are not at the mercy of the circumstances that surround us. The decision to change and the ability to change lies on us and within us. The end result is almost always about the person giving up their old selves in place of a new and healthier one.
The question now is how to facilitate this change?
One important step which I usually go through with counselling clients is to help them grieve from the loss of their old self. Grieving is simply having a proper ‘goodbye’ to something or to someone that you have lost (or in this case, to your old self which you are aiming to lose). For this purpose, this stage of grieving in counselling is all about finalizing your letting go of your old self. A huge reason on why people find it hard to change or to move on from their past is this failure to go through the proper grieving process.
We have to disentangle from our old self so we can move on to our healthier counterparts. This means going through a good dose of grieving. To say goodbye to the old self symbolically is an important step to change. So, before you journey on towards those counselling goals, take some time alone to talk to your ‘old self’ and say goodbye. It would be no different from saying goodbye to an old friend whom you may never see again. The feelings would be confusing; there will be doubt (I don’t think this is a good idea), anger (I hate you for all that you have done), fear (What will happen to me without you?), sadness (I am really losing you aren’t I?), and finally a sense of excitement (Things will get better and better from here onwards).
The old self was a good person; it was our survival mechanism for a long time and this old self kept us alive and well to this very day. Respect it and give it the due appreciation it deserves. Send him/her off properly. This will solidify your commitment for change and lessen the chances of future relapse and regression.
Just like the caterpillar, we have to let go off our old shell in order to grow our wings and fly to higher meanings and purposes. The question now is, are you ready to say goodbye?