The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble…They can never be solved, but only outgrown.
– C. G. Jung
The quote above by Carl Jung is one of my favorite quotes, because it speaks well to the process of counseling. I find that when individuals are struggling, often they look for a quick fix – something to quickly remove the problems. Maybe it is the medication that one believes to be a happy pill. Or the bottle of vodka that will wash away sorrows. It could be over-exercising or starving ourselves in hope that it will not only eliminate fat, but our deep shameful secrets about ourselves. I can list many more, but you get the idea.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the quick fix actually exists, but when our issues involve emotion, many of us want to believe otherwise. Let’s compare it to physical health. If you randomly started bleeding, for unknown reasons, sure you can bandage the cut. The bleeding might stop, but does it resolve why you were bleeding in the first place? Does a band-aid really heal what is at the core of our issue? No. It is simply a temporary solution, until the body begins the healing process. So why do we think we can slap a band-aid on our emotional and psychological issues?
Personal growth and the healing process take time. As a counselor, that is one thing I know for sure. I also believe that with the right conditions, growth is possible. If you have taken an introductory psychology class, you might be familiar with Abraham Maslow and what is known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs1. Maslow believed that humans are intrinsically motivated and have a desire to grow, yet basic needs, such as shelter, safety, and belonging must be met first, before full potential can be met.
Of course, life is complicated, which is why in order to truly heal and reach full potential, we must experience the process and grow from it. We are complex beings with various aspects of the self, and because of this it is necessary to integrate our internal and external elements of our whole self. One approach to such growth is through counseling. Counseling creates a safe place for individuals to engage in self-reflection. A counselor can help you better understand how the different elements of yourself are organized and harmonious, and how other elements might be segregated from the greater core. Through this work, you can discover what works for you, what nourishes your soul, and where lifestyle changes can be made for a greater integrated self. So, the next time you are overwhelmed with finding a solution, instead think about how you can grow from the experience and consider counseling as an option to support this process.