I’m going to warn you now, this is going to be a vulnerable episode! One of my goals for this platform is to help normalize self-help and therapy for busy moms. I hate how moms are often made to feel like they should have it altogether, all the time, without any assistance. Counseling has been a game changer for me and if you’ve never experienced therapy, I can’t recommend it enough. All that being said, let’s get into today’s topic: my biggest takeaway from counseling.
I first began counseling in 2013 after a parent attempted to physically assault me during a parent-teacher conference. I have always had low-level anxiety, but after that event, I noticed that it skyrocketed. My husband and I went out for a date night and I didn’t want to get out of the car because I was afraid we would run into that parent. I recognized that this wasn’t a rational thought and decided to seek help from a counselor (you can read more about my story here).
At the time, my husband and I were also planning to start trying for our first baby. I knew that that would trigger all sorts of anxiety for me, because I’m a planner and babies don’t ever follow a plan. The timing seemed right to get someone in my corner.
After a few sessions with my counselor, I knew counseling was going to become part of my self-care routine. I loved having a neutral third party that I could vent to and get perspective from. My counselor would often hit me with a truth bomb (in the kindest possible way) and I would spend a few weeks processing her profound insights.
The biggest takeaway from counseling was when I was telling my counselor about how I would react when I got overwhelmed. When I was with my husband, my safe person, I would have the equivalent of an adult tantrum. He wouldn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how to regain my control and we both got frustrated.
My counselor was able to coach me (and my husband) to see that when I was in that spiral, I needed to say what I needed. There it is, my biggest takeaway from counseling: say what you need. Those four words changed the game for me. When I would get triggered and start to freak out, my husband would say: “What do you need?” And just like that, I would force myself to pause and consider it. Sometimes, I needed a candy bar. Other times, I needed a nap or an afternoon off.
By him asking me that question, he was able to empower me to come up with my own solution. Before I knew it, the second I noticed the spiral, I would ask myself “What do you need?” It forced me to get concrete, identify it and then I could just tell my husband what I needed, without all the surrounding drama. Game changed.
I am the first one to tell you that my husband is an actual saint. As a verbal processor, I need to talk things out, usually more than once. He is always game to do that with me. However, that is why it’s extra nice to have a counselor so I can re-hash these things without him having to hear it 57 times.
These are the steps that we implemented after my counselor helped us develop these strategies. It’s been seven years and we have come such a long way during that time.
We sat down together and each made a list of what we needed daily, weekly and monthly. You could even go as far as quarterly or yearly, but we stuck with those to begin. After we each wrote our list independently, we shared it with each other. It was so helpful and insightful to see what we both needed. To be honest, my list was longer than his and that’s OK. The goal is just to identify what those things are and communicate them to one another
The next step was consistently using the prompt “What do you need?” Sometimes the answer was “For you to listen to me vent’. That made it very clear what the expectation was for both of us. Other times, I needed something more concrete and we could work together to find a way to make it happen.
This final step is internalizing the process. You know you’ve found an awesome counselor when you hear their voice in your head when you’re going through something challenging. That is what happened to me with this process and the fact that I’m still using it is a huge testament to how effective counseling has been for me.
If you’ve never done it before, I really encourage you to try the exercise of identifying what you need daily, weekly and monthly. This isn’t my entire list, but I wanted to share some ideas with you if you start this exercise, alone or with your partner. I made sure to record these in my MAP Book so that I could refer back to them frequently.
What I Need Daily:
What I Need Weekly:
What I Need Monthly:
Begin to think about whether or not counseling might be right for you. Ask friends and colleagues if they know of anyone they love. In post-Covid life, so many counselors are available virtually, which is so nice and I highly recommend virtual visits as a great starting point. I have found both of the counselors that I have worked with by using the website, Psychology Today.
Another step you can take today is doing the “What You Need” exercise in your MAP Book. To be honest, I try to do this exercise at least once a year because it changes so much as your season of life changes. Be sure you put a date on the top of the page so you can reference it in the future.
If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on Spotify or YouTube so you don’t miss next week’s episode: where I share with you my newest personal life goal. I am SO excited about it, but a little nervous to share and have it out into the world. Help me manifest it, please!
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Thank you so much for being here, mama! Get back to doing your thing, rocking your world and remember – keep growing! Little eyes are watching.
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And finally, you can also check out these related episodes that I think you’ll be obsessed with: