Lessons from counselling

I've been going to counseling and today's session made me want to take down notes so that I don't forget. It's a bit of a hodge-podge, but I'm sharing it here in case it can help.

1. What toxic means

The word toxic is bandied around so often that I didn’t really know what it meant. So I asked and was answered:

When you’re in a toxic environment, you come away feeling worse (lower self-esteem, depression) than you did before.

It doesn’t really matter if the people in that environment are nice to you. If you come away from the environment feeling bad, the environment is toxic.

2. Experiences are unique

I was thinking that maybe I’m the weird one because I know a lot of people who like to speak badly about the Japanese as the whole and my experience has been very positive. But my counselor pointed out that I am not those people and they are not me, so we naturally have different experiences.

And it’s not just that. Our personalities shape the experiences we have. So I may not be naive/dumb, but rather I perceive the same country differently because of how my personality works.

You all know that’s a weak point for me so I have to keep it in mind.

On a related note:

3. I need to learn to be more secure in my friendships

I cried when talking about the last point because for some reason, I take insults against Japanese people in general as insults specific to my friendships with the Japanese. My counselor pointed out that I’m giving too much importance to the words of others. Unless there is evidence that my friends are not truly friends, there’s no need to doubt them.

There’s no need to doubt them.

There’s no evidence to doubt them.

Words to keep in mind the next time this fear strikes. It’s probably not going to go away so fast (because when I think about it, it’s a pretty deep-seated fear), but now that I’m aware of how irrational it is, I can put things in perspective more easily.

4. It’s fine to make mistakes (the important thing is to learn from them)

I was doing a lot “if”-ing during the session, which my counsellor pointed out was not helpful. Hindsight is 20/20, but I made the best decision that I could in that circumstance.

The important thing is to learn and grow from this experience. It’s okay to give up on something if it’s mentally and/or physically bad for you. It’ll just be one of my learning experiences. Now I know more about the type of job that suits me.

5. Nobody can force you to keep working

According to my counsellor (I’m saying that a lot today), there is no reason for me to stay in a bad environment. Unless I’m working at a survival level (aka don’t have this job cannot eat no place to sleep), then no one can force me to stay.

The company might try to guilt me into staying (not saying that they will, this was a hypothetical), but even if it is the case, there is still no reason to stay. There is no need for me (or anyone) to sacrifice my health for a company.

Sometimes the situation might feel like it’s impossible to get out of, like “oh, if I leave they’ll be short staffed etc etc etc” but what I should keep in mind is that I have to make the best decision for myself and my health, not for a third party. If I don’t want to stay, I have the freedom to leave.

6. Part of being an adult is making your own decisions

One of the reason’s I’m in two minds about quitting my job is because some of the people I know believe that I should tough it out, that because this is my second job I should work for at least a year.

But my counselor pointed out that these people aren’t going through what I’m doing. Even when I tell them about it, I’m essentially giving a summary. I can’t convey how I feel or how much it impacts me (though the gastric is pretty obvious)

Which means that even though I consider the opinions of others when making a decision, the only one who can make the decision is me. I can’t rely on other people to make decisions on what’s best for me.

At some point in time (now/very soon), I will have to step up to the plate and make my own decisions. They may turn out to be the wrong decisions, but like point 4 says, it’s okay to make mistakes.

In short: I cannot grow if I cannot take responsibility for myself.

These are my main takeaways from today’s session. Now I have to muster up the courage and take the necessary steps to get myself to a better place both mentally and physically.

I encourage everyone who needs it to seek counseling. Physical health is important, but your mental health is just as important and I cannot stress this enough. Everyone needs to be mentally and physically healthy.

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