What Are You Doing With Your Life?

Life can be difficult: Relationships falter; work goes sour; unexpected hardships and losses are experienced. Beyond extraordinary events, the ordinary struggles to meet everyday challenges can be filled with stress and emotional turmoil.

If efforts to meet the challenges of life are not based on a strong but flexible internal foundation, judgment can be compromised, questionable decisions can be made, and feelings of anxiety and/or depression may arise. Feeling anxious or depressed may be a manifestation of incongruence between your espoused goals and your sense of self, or evidence of a loss of direction or purpose, or a sign of the alienation arising from dependence on the affirmation of others. One can drift aimlessly into personal relationships, launch an ill considered career, or remain stuck in anxiety, self-doubt, or indecision. Without a commitment to reflecting on questions of meaning, values, and purpose, one's present behavior can continue to be influenced by past experiences but with little conscious awareness of these influences.

Counseling or psychotherapy dedicates time and space to take stock of your life -- to explore the meaning of your direction, or lack of direction; to consider whether your actions are aligned with your values; to reflect on questions of purpose and engagement in work and relationships; and to raise consciousness of influences that are motivating your behavior and decisions. The dissolution of psychological conflicts that comes from understanding yourself can give way to a new sense of self and new ways of relating to others. It can create a deeper sense of purpose and engagement and lead to new decisions about how you are going to live in this world.

Making time for this process of reflection is especially important in young adulthood, when one faces decisions that set the course for one's future. Changing course becomes progressively more challenging later on, after one has emotionally, financially, and psychologically invested in a particular path. At any point in the journey, however, it can be helpful to meet with a counselor who can join you in thinking through questions of meaning and options for future direction.