"To the Core"
After ten years of working out at my local community centre, I
joined a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility. The world of fitness
as I had known it suddenly expanded dramatically. I was introduced
to gravity training systems, core boards, bosu balance trainers,
stability balls and fusion yoga. And while each had something unique
to offer, they all emphasized a similar result- “strengthening
the core.” I learned that this would increase muscular strength,
improve posture and performance, prevent injuries while relieving
prior ones and enhance one’s general well being.
I began to think about this concept of “strengthening the
core” and realized that there is a similar emphasis in the
work that counselling professionals do. We assist clients in getting
in touch with their core selves, living life according to their
core values, and working through some early core issues, related
to core beliefs about themselves. We do this in order to empower
them, improve emotional health, nurture development and growth,
relieve emotional pain and enhance one’s general well being.
In my practice, for example, when clients are unhappy with the
work that they do, a values-clarification exercise helps to identify
and prioritize core values. This in turn, leads to recognition of
how these core values may be lacking in their current work and prompts
decisions on how they might incorporate these values into their
personal and work lives in the future.
When using personality assessment tools, such as the Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator, Personality Dimensions, or True Colors, clients
learn about their core selves, their adapted selves and their contextual
selves. By better understanding how they prefer to interact with
the world around them, they are better able to choose careers and
lifestyles that fit their personal style and therefore live more
Clients often come to counselling with some long-standing negative
core beliefs about themselves. Growing up with a learning problem,
they may believe they are stupid. Working for a critical boss, they
may recall old feelings of incompetence that they experienced from
a critical parent. Lacking intimacy in their lives, they may feel
unlovable. Using cognitive behavioural techniques, clients are encouraged
to examine these core beliefs and challenge some of the distorted
thinking upon which they are based. Ultimately, they learn to replace
them with more balanced beliefs.
While “strengthening your core” is the latest catchphrase
at the gym, it is more than a passing trend in one’s emotional
life. It is a process of growth and development that you can undertake
at any time in your life. If you have decided, after reading this,
that you wish to strengthen your core, I would be pleased to offer
my assistance in supporting you on that quest.
Barbara Fish, M.Ed.
Personal and Career Counsellor
“Helping Your Life Work”
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