Paradoxes in Life and Counseling

Life is full of paradoxes. What I mean by that is that things that are contradictory often can lead to freedom when they are acknowledged and accepted. For example, the first step of the 12 steps of AA asks person to acknowledge their powerlessness over alcohol and drugs in order that they may be able to achieve power from other sources. Once someone accepts the powerlessness of their willpower, they are able to add support and power that comes from other areas in their life, like from 12-step meetings, contact with a sponsor, following through with actually doing what the 12 steps say to do, etc.

Another paradox: once we accept or decide to let go of a problem or concern, often the solution presents itself. As long as we hung on and fought against it, we made no progress. Have you ever tried really hard to remember or think of something you forgot, only to have it pop into your mind automatically later after you give up trying?

In relationships, if I try to control, manipulate, or smother my partner, all they want to do is get away. However, if I back away and give them some space and allow them to be who they are, they more than likely will want to come back.

In counseling, just the fact of contacting a therapist and coming into a session is a surrender of sorts that says, “I’m going stop trying just on my own.” The paradox is that, once someone does that, they open the door to healing and progress by letting in new ideas and getting other input.

It’s a good idea to keep watch for how we struggle and fight against things and stay stuck instead of letting go and moving forward. Look for the paradoxes in your life and quit fighting them.

By Ron Deage
Clinical Director at A Turning Point

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