As part of my graduate studies, we are expected to choose a theoretical orientation on which we will base our counselling practice. We are meant to become grounded in one set of beliefs so that we will have a stable base; then we can draw on other theories as needed.
For the longest time, I believed I had chosen a particular theory. Recently I realized that although I love that orientation in the theoretical realm, I actually live my life according to different principles.
(In case anyone is interested, my pet theory is existential therapy while my operating principles are more aligned with cognitive therapy).
This has got me thinking about the frequency with which we tend to hold one set of beliefs while actually living in entirely different ways.
It can be so easy to develop a framework for life that we talk about and espouse to other people. But then when it comes to what we actually do in practice? All those pretty words we have crafted fall out the bottom and we do things quite differently. This is not a bad thing. I think we benefit from having a set of principles to aspire to, even if we are not able to always act in congruence to those principles.
The simplest example that springs to mind for me involves driving. Anyone who has read much here knows that I am constantly striving for self acceptance and calm presence and I see myself as a peaceful being. However, I get mean when I get stuck in traffic! Sometimes the words that come out of my mouth in the privacy of my car are shocking even to me 🙂
Again, this is not a catastrophic failing. My tendency to engage in reflection is allowing me to catch myself when I am acting in ways that feel inauthentic. I am ever learning to practice the actions that I believe to be important and valuable. If I didn’t have that grounded belief system, I would be far less likely to continue to strive to grow and change. So it’s really okay that my actions don’t always match my words. It’s part of being human and it gives me direction.
I am reminded that an important part of mindful acceptance is accepting that I’m going to stumble along the way.