Helping Your Life Work
May 1, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 5

"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 congruent lives.

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
416 498-1352
“Helping Your Life Work”

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