I watched a man die today.
Last night, I decided to write something about my experience during counseling.
I wrote the title and left it at that.
The next day, a man jumped from the roof of a parking garage near my office.
It was surreal and not something you’d expect on a typical business day.
So I thought all the more about how much I needed to process. I am going to pull on some nuggets I’ve received from when I was in regular counseling.
Lesson 1: It is what it is
Emotions are just that, emotions. We tend to define our feelings as good or bad. Yet, I learned that it’s not the emotion itself. But instead what we do with emotions.
I can be angry about a situation or something someone said. But, that does not give me the right to hurt someone, whether physically or verbally.
It’s a hard distinction to grasp, but it can be great if we develop the awareness to see it at the moment.
My emotions are set, and it’s a matter of what I do with it that matters.
Lesson 2: Acceptance
I would often come to a session and air out all my grievances. This person does this petty thing I don’t like. Or this person is always like this.
My counselor would stop me and give me a different take. Maybe it was someone similar in his life or a circumstance he learned he couldn’t change.
In those cases where something you cannot change, he’d talk about acceptance. Learning to accept someone just the way they are rather than trying to change them.
It would hurt, but it’s true. If you love someone or want to keep a relationship, you will have to accept that person entirely.
It’s the same with circumstances. If you can’t change it, what point is there complaining about it?
Now is the time to start making decisions to chart a path for yourself.
Lesson 3: You can’t make me
I grew up saying, you are making me so mad. Or I did X because of you.
But, counseling showed me that no one can make you do anything. Whether emotionally or physically.
We all have a choice. We can choose to let bad news ruin our day. I can choose to get angry at a colleague over a dispute.
You may feel that a situation has to elicit a specific response. But, often, it doesn’t. You can choose to respond with grace in the face of hurt. Or peace in the face of conflict.
The choice is ours.
Lesson 4: Expectation
In counseling, I spent a lot of time working on my past. Whether good or bad, I had a lot of expectations.
I expected my parents to act in a certain way. My siblings needed to meet certain expectations. I created demands for my wife as well. Friends got on the expectation list too.
What I discovered is that those expectations often created issues when I felt let down.
I noticed that lowering or removing expectations freed those around me to be human. If only in my eyes, at least I could enjoy the relationship without the feelings of being let down. Typically over some minor thing.
Lesson 5: Hope
When I start to put things in perspective, I see how small some of my significant issues were.
Things I felt were life-changing seldom were. Having a baby didn’t shift things permanently.
Buying a house didn’t end in disaster. Breaking up with my HS girlfriend wasn’t the end of the world.
I learned that this too will pass. Often, those painful moments are just that, moments. It passes, and life goes on.
We wake up with another day to make decisions and move toward a hopeful future.
I plead with you to take a minute right now. Put things in perspective. There is never a reason to end your life.
We have too much to be thankful for, no matter how bad things get.
Life is a gift from God.
To the family of the man who ended his life, you are in our prayers. We send our deepest condolences, even though we don’t know you personally.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, the number below is available 24/7.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish. Learn more
Also, you can leave a comment or find me on my site or social media. I will connect with you.