Should/could or would like to..........


Many individuals live their lives driven by the word “should”: children should succeed academically; teenagers should fit in with their peers; adults should work hard and earn lots of money and so on.

Many individuals who come to counselling have lost themselves in this world of ‘should’. They have lived their lives trying to live up to the expectations of others and the wider expectations of society emphasised in social media. Their day to day lives are frantic as they try to meet the endless expectations.These individuals have often lost sight of who they are as a person, and are, sad, worn out, frustrated and struggling. This struggling can manifest itself in individuals questioning their relationships, loathing their careers, and envisaging a unhappy, problematic future for themselves.

Counsellors listen to clients without interrupting, passing judgement, giving opinion or criticising. Counsellors encourage clients to avoid the use of the word ‘you’ or ‘we’ and to share their thoughts and feelings using the word ‘I’. For some clients who have lived their lives following thoughts such as “you have to force yourself to not cry because it’s not acceptable for a grown man to cry’ or ‘we women do this don’t we – put up with aggression and unhappiness in a relationship – for the sake of keeping the family together’ this can be very difficult. They have lost themselves whilst living up to external expectations, and to talk about and listen to themselves is something they have avoided and find uncomfortable associating it with being somewhat selfish.

 As sessions continue with clients using ‘I’ and talking about their own values and beliefs, past patterns and future longings become clearer. Clients make sense of past events which they found difficult and relationships which they are unhappy with. Gradually a sense of self appears where clients identify changes they wish to make, conversations they would like to have, career directions they would like to follow. These changes fit in with their personal values and beliefs which have been explored during counselling. They become ready to make positive change for themselves as they learn to live according to their own individual needs and desires.

Sarah Greaves