Philosophical Counseling: The Basics
Philosophical counseling uses the tools, strategies, thinking, and problem-solving of philosophy to help people navigate their daily challenges.
In my own work, I use the work PRACTICAL very often. Because just keeping philosophy in mind is good, but integrating new insights in day-to-day life and, for some, in business is crucial.
In my 15 years of work, I used a distinct model that I have found worked well for the 1000´s of people I taught it to.
I call it your Suit and your Monk. You have a career, you have money, you have a house or maybe an apartment. I call this your Suit or your external self.
On the other hand, you have a purpose in life, you search for meaning, you want to live a fulfilling life, I call this your Monk or internal self. Here you can see a paragraph about the difference between the two and its application to your life.
When I ask you now: which one do most people focus on in their life and career? Would it be the Suit or the Monk? Take a look at the paragraph.
Most people focus on the Suit, right? We focus on success, career development, and our external life.
And when I run seminars, I ask people: ´´which one is more important? ´´. Then people say ´´actually the Monk´´ because happiness is more important than just success.
However, most people want to also be successful in life. The problem is when you only focus on success and you misalign from your purpose, you create a gap within yourself. That gap creates unhappiness. So I help people bridge that gap, between their Suit and their Monk, between their happiness and purpose and success in life, so they can be happy internally and successful externally. And this has been part of my work for over 15+ years.
If you want to learn how big the gap between your internal and external self is today, you can take a free check-up here, developed by Dr. Mike Thompson to help discover where you are on your journey. Take your free check-up here.
So Why Do We Study Philosophical Counseling?
You see, in most studies of philosophical counseling, people are looking for answers. Answers to questions such as ´´what is my purpose in life´´, ´´how can I live a life with more meaning´´, ´´how can I find my true path in life´´ and what it means to be really happy.
This is a humane need to want to pursue happiness and find meaning while also being successful in life.
While some issues can be resolved with the help of medicines or therapy, it reaches a limit. You one day reach a point where a profound understanding is needed, where your morals, values, ethics, and way of life come in.
Where you need to navigate around questions and go deep into them to find what you genuinely wish for. And all those wishes are intertwined with one main component of our being, our thinking.
Our thoughts are a knot that needs untying. To ask ourselves questions we try so hard to ignore and constantly push at the back of our heads.
That is where philosophical counseling comes in.
Those intricate questions need the kind of exploring that can only be gained through various perspectives.
To dive deep into them and drive logical and plausible conclusions as to why such thoughts and wishes made home in your mind in the first place.
To assist you in finding solutions that will help you further in life if a similar issue arises. It allows for self-reflection and to exercise and heighten your own critical thinking.
“The value of philosophy lies not in furnishing solutions but in defining difficulties and suggesting methods for dealing with them”- John Dewey, an American philosopher, and educator.
We need to study philosophical counseling to go head straight into the uncharted territories of an individual, challenge their beliefs, and where necessary, contradictions.
It is a special kind of talk therapy that dives deep into your life’s big questions and opens distinct dimensions of thoughts, which other therapies might fall short on.
What Is The Main Purpose of Guidance and Counseling?
During guidance and counseling, you help the client first through deep questioning and reflecting to discover deeper truths about what is important for the client in their life and career. This reflection is especially important around midlife, because many people search for a second career at that time.
You help them reflect on the past and talk through major turning points in their life. It is important to understand WHY they made the decisions they made. Here every client is very unique because every client has very different life experiences. So, you need to work with the client’s reality instead of putting your reality ON the client.
My clients have a variety of challenges they want to work on:
- Having been working for 25 years in corporate, I am successful, but I am not happy
- I started drinking because I could not cope with the stress of business and life anymore
- I am considering divorcing my wife after 20 years of marriage, but I am afraid to let go because then I have to pay her a lot of money, and so I am not happy.
One of the key important factors for philosophical counseling is not only to have studied great thinkers but to HAVE LIVED the journey yourself.
I have seen both the corporate world as an expat in China working for an international shipping company, I have later on set up my own consultancy as an entrepreneur. I have been through a divorce, a healing crisis, and I lived in different countries.
Right now, I live in Spain, I published books, have been on a deep spiritual journey of self-healing, with an awakening moment in 2011 that completely changed my life. I´m still enjoying both the business world, external life, and internal life, and it has become my purpose to help people integrate both in order to be happy internally and successful externally.
Being happy with yourself and your life is an integral part of living.
The main purpose of guidance and counseling is to help you understand and gather the strength to take these difficult decisions that need to be made in order to be happy. When you aren’t satisfied, every day becomes a struggle; you spring into survival mode, and your body starts going on auto-pilot mode.
It is a journey full of ups and downs and will take you on a rollercoaster of realization. There will be times when you will feel bad for prioritizing your happiness over the feelings of others, but that is where you need an external party tells you it is okay to do so because you will be the one living this life of misery for the sake of others’ happiness.
Recognizing and working through this emotional and spiritual issue is where guidance and counseling play an important role.
When you start this journey, you will feel lost and a little overwhelmed. There is so much to do, and you don’t know where to start. I have lived through this feeling of being, and I know it can be unclear.
But at the same time, this step is oddly liberating. To learn to live for yourself first, know yourself in and out, even the parts you have yet to uncover, is what guidance and counseling are all about.
Counselling I needed to know that trying to find yourself in this life is not a selfish thing to do and how can you identify all that is holding you back to do so.
How Can Philosophical Counseling Be Used in Daily Life?
Here it is important that philosophical counseling becomes practical. In my work as an author and coach, I use 3 main methodologies.
1. Develop a good Suit or your External Life:
- This means building a career around your passion and purpose. For some clients, this may be a career change. Money is important because it´s how you live and pay for the standard of life that is comfortable for you. So, if you can build a big healthy Suit, it will increase the quality of your external life.
- The second part of developing your Suit is to create a healthy mindset and overcome any fears that may block you from moving forward or any limiting beliefs.
2. Release the Emotional Backpack
- Release unfinished business in life. Conversations with loved ones who have passed away. Resolve unresolved conflict. Work through and release any emotional trauma´s that you may have. Improve emotional self-management in life.
3. Increase your Monk and Inner Happiness
- Open the channel, doors to implement your purpose in life into the real world. Take decisions according to your values and what´s really important to you. Ask yourself the daring questions you have been putting off and review your answers. Challenge your morals where necessary and broaden your vision.
These are vital ideologies for achieving a fulfilling life. These ideologies, if implemented correctly, can improve the quality of your life tenfold.
You cannot ignore one of these and focus your entire attention on others. We certainly do not rush into them as well. As someone who has actively worked towards incorporating and building them up, I know it is not easy. It might take months or maybe even years to accomplish the goal you want to achieve, but the bottom line is that you can.
I use these three main ideologies because each focuses on the part of your life and being. It focuses on bettering your external life in a way where you do not dread making the money you need to make to survive. Instead are filled with healthy determination and passion for doing better and better. You work towards becoming more ambitious and overcoming all mental limitations.
To find happiness and purpose in your life, you must first address everything weighing you down. How can you find happiness without acknowledging past regrets and traumas and letting them go? This step is the hardest, but I will be here with you on this journey, delving into all the emotional baggage you have carried and working towards releasing it.
Why is Philosophy Considered an Important Foundation in Our Lives?
Philosophy basically teaches ancient wisdom that can still be applied today if used in the right way. Philosophy is also timeless.
It means, that being happy was as important 1000 years ago as it is today. Our external worlds have changed, but the quest for happiness and a meaningful life remains important for many.
So, philosophy can be used to draw upon ancient wisdom and still use those tools, methodologies, and practices in day-to-day life.
Philosophy holds significant grounds in helping you see your self-worth. You realize the control you have over your life and how you can make it better.
Introspection becomes a vital element and helps you find what you truly want. In order to guide a person and help him unravel his many layers, you need to go deep into their lives. To probe all aspects and analyze each and every major and minor event in one’s life.
Philosophy is essentially the art of living well, and that is the entire goal of guidance and counseling.
What philosophy does is make you question your thoughts, your attitude, your innermost feelings. It uncovers all that you are and all that you can be.
You cannot guide a person you do not understand, nor can you help give solutions until you know their thinking and how their mind works. You need to be open to possibilities and theories, perspectives, and realities.
Philosophy is a journey of self-exploration and how to explore yourself is where you can ask for external guidance.
We go through life experiencing its nastiness, getting wounded in the process, and trying to come out of it as a survivor. And to not revisit them is understandable but not practical or logical.
These are the primary reasons that hold you back in life and prevent you from gaining the happiness you want. Counseling helps you revisit them and find solutions to overcoming them. With the help of philosophy, you look at all situations and ponder on the whys and hows.
The 5 Main Philosophies used in Philosophical Counseling
1. Lao Tzu…
Despite the surface differences that all philosophers had, they all understood one essential wisdom of life: there’s more to the world than physical reality. They all had a quest to understand life and its domain beyond the ordinary sense perception.
The Basic philosophical underpinnings behind philosophical counseling tend to explore the holistic nature of people, the uniqueness of each individual, the strength of multicultural pluralism, mental health and personal growth, self-responsibility, and social and vocational involvement for individuals.
Why do Some People Ditch Their Therapist?
A therapist, psychologist coach, or healer doesn´t always have the understanding of the bigger picture of life; Your life journey.
They often work on ONE problem or a few problems to resolve, but they don´t always look at the BIG picture of your life. And so, after you resolve the issues that they helped you with, you are often searching for something else, something different that can help you further on your journey. This is where philosophical counseling comes into play.
In extensive work and research and publishing two books on life and leadership, I have developed a life journey model that shows you the bigger picture of your life and career.
When you look at the model it looks complex, but it is actually easy to understand. You have the upper line, which is the outer world we live in, and you have the lower line, which is your inner world. The goal is to help you bridge that gap in your life.
Philosophical Counseling and Mental Health
Perhaps one of the major setbacks of our ever-changing and ever-evolving world is that it is confused with so many options out there.
The idea of always doing more, achieving more, and working more is praised so much that everyone is anxious about failure and setbacks. Mental health issue rates were never so high.
So how does one stay optimistic amidst the chaos?
Philosophical counseling provides one a sense of autonomy (the ability to choose things for yourself) and decreases anxiety.
When the fog of uncertainty lifts, you automatically become better at handling your relationship, understanding your emotions, and navigating your way. Moreover, philosophical counseling encourages constructive criticism of oneself if needed instead of destructive criticism.
Philosophical Counseling and Leadership
Philosophical counseling is sometimes used in leadership as well.
The reason is that leaders have to make a lot of decisions on a daily basis. And it is the quality of your decisions that will determine the direction of your life.
So philosophical counseling through deep questioning helps the leader to make better decisions.
This is not only be rationalizing the decisions but also looking at including values and intuition to make the right decision.
Philosophical Counseling and Career Development
It may seem unrelated, but career development and philosophical counseling in the process are actually very important.
If you look at career development, you typically look only at your rational components, your skills, your background, your education, your past corporate experience, so this is all very much your Suit or external self.
In a recent blog post, I wrote why career development is overrated because, from a philosophical point of view, what I have seen for many of my clients is that their careers took twists and turns that looking backward they never expected.
So choosing a career that is aligned with your life path or life journey is critical if you want to be happy internally and successful externally.
Do you need Philosophical Counseling?
If you have been to retreats, you have read many books on personal growth, the law of attraction, meditation, you have attended seminars, and maybe done leadership workshops.
You have had sessions with a few coaches and did personal healing, but you have still not arrived at the point of your journey that brings you to the journey of self-realization and happiness.
That´s typically when I come in. I help, guide, and mentor people on the bigger picture of their life’s journey in a practical way.
In the end, the journey of life is the journey towards self-realization, including the people we meet, and the jobs we
have had, all contributed to this journey.
If you want to deepen your understanding and bring your life to the next level and help you bridge your gap, you can contact me at raf(@)suitedmonk.com or make an inquiry below.
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