Will Counseling make me Happy?

For most people who seek therapy, they find a feeling of catharsis in sharing their story of suffering with an objective caring therapist.  On the other hand, for some, it may have to get worse before it gets better.  I think of it as opening a scar, which may bleed and be painful, such that the wound can re-heal in a healthier manner.  Obviously the ultimate goal of counseling is to improve satisfaction, but for some people that may require an exploration of painful memories or experiences. This process may create rather than alleviate pain.  Sometimes I wish it were no so, but I did not make the rules, I just help people navigate the pain they must endure to get better.

But, I just want to be happy!
The problem with feelings is that we all have all of them whether we want them or not.  But, along with sadness, anxiety, and jealousy, we also get: joy, pride, and love.  So, it can be agreed that feelings as a whole are not all bad, it just so happens that not all of them are pleasant to experience.  Basically if you want happy, you must have sad.  If you want joy, you must have suffering.  They all come together in one package of feelings, you either get all of them or you get the emptiness of none of them. Again, I did not invent the rules, but I can help you cope with the difficulties in managing and containing the feelings we all have.

What seems to happen when it comes to feelings is that different people have different problems with different feelings. For instance, one woman might hate to feel jealous but have a certain tolerance for regret or sadness.  The same might go for a man who feels comfortable getting angry but finds it intolerable to cry.  Basically, each of us has a spectacular individual symphony of feelings made up of all kinds of varying instruments. On top of that, making things even more complicated is the fact that we also have feelings about those feelings that we inevitably must have. Phew.

Why can't I just have good feelings?
What most people want is to get rid of the bad feeling they are experiencing.  "I don't want to feel sad anymore." "I don't want to feel anxious anymore." Well, here is the bad news: to have the good feelings, you have to have the bad feelings.  You cannot perform surgery on your psychology to remove that one pesky feeling that is the most unpleasant to you. Whether it is shame, frustration, jealousy, anger, sadness, or anxiety, we all have one or more that we could do without.  I didn't make the rules but it just doesn't work that way.

Why do I have such problems with certain feelings?
If you are asking this question, you are on track toward feeling better.  It is curiosity about your self and your feelings that leads to control and power over them.  If you do not run your feelings, your feelings will run you.  The resulting knowledge about your feelings, the information about when, why, and how they happen can help unlock a feeling of confidence and satisfaction in life. 

Yes, but why are certain feelings so much harder for certain people to cope with? 
How does a presidential candidate handle the anxiety of public speaking while another person faints?  This is a complicated question and in truth it has not been fully understood or explored by psychological researchers.  What we know now is that it is a combination of an individual's inborn temperament and their childhood experience.  Some babies, put simply, are born calm while others are born anxious. 
With respect to childhood, do you remember the first time you felt regret?  Well, you probably have some memory that comes to consciousness, but my guess is that you felt it once before you really knew what it was.  These first introductions to feelings occur constantly during early childhood, making up a great deal of social learning during the formative years.  Now, if the parent teaching you about your feelings has problems with one of their feelings, it can get passed on.  Thus, a mother who had issues with anxiety might produce offspring who have issues with anxiety.

The Good News
The good news is that we can become comfortable with all of our feelings.  We may not learn to like them, prefer them, or want them; but we can learn to tolerate and respect them.  In addition, tolerance to unpleasant feelings like anxiety, envy, and frustration can be built and practiced.  Just as a marathon runner will train their muscles to handle longer runs, so to can a person build endurance and tolerance to unpleasant emotions.  With this, comes the power and control over our feelings that most people are looking for.