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From Cows to Counselling

People I meet who have known me as a farmer and contractor often ask me what motivated the change from the world of agriculture to the totally different world of counselling. Perhaps there is more than one answer to that question but I do clearly remember the moment, and even where I was on the race when following the cow's home one morning when the thought arrived that "is this all I am going to do for the rest of my life?" Sometimes there are things that you just have to do.

Nearly seven years on, having done the countless numbers of assignments and essays needed to get qualified and around 1500 hours of counselling I am convinced more than ever that there are many parallels between the two worlds. For example a little bit of maintenance can save major breakdowns is a classic. Ignoring a problem rarely makes it go away.

While many of the principles are the same, there seems to be one major difference. If I get stuck cultivating or feeding out, I will go and get the neighbor to pull me out. If I have a sick animal, after trying to diagnose and fix it myself and perhaps giving it a bit of time to see whether it gets better or worse I will get the vet. If I am about to build a new shed, put in a new irrigator or considering putting a feeding system in, I will do the research and seek advice but where does this commonsense disappear to when it comes to family or relationships issues. The first response is often to ignore the problem and hope that it will go away. When that doesn't work, the next strategy is to blame the other person and tell them that they have a problem and need help. People either don't get help or leave it so late that whatever they are trying to save is already dead.

There seems to be this idea that "if I am with the right person, we won't need to work at the relationship or learn how to make it work." This idea makes about as much sense to me as giving every person a car on their fifteenth birthday and letting them loose on the road without any training in how to drive and no instruction on the road rules. It would end up with so many people crashing and taking out innocent people on the way many of them children, and all for the lack of knowledge, skills and understanding. When the inevitable conflict turns up in relationship, the conclusion is reached that"I must be with the wrong person" so the only way out of the problem is to get out of the relationship. The other extreme regularly encountered in my work is that people will stay together for years succeeding only in making life miserable for each other.

That is not how it is supposed to be. It can be different.

The time to get help is when the first signs appear that we are working against each other rather than as a team. So often I hear in my room the words "if only I had learnt this stuff years ago we could have saved ourselves years of pain and frustration."

Don't leave it too late to get help.
 
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