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Taking It With You Author: Chrissy Stergos, MAC,PLPC

I spoke with a young person a while back, a counseling client who was thinking about moving away from her current life and starting over fresh “somewhere else”. She dreamed of a life of peace, maybe a town house in a suburb, maybe a job with a nice boss and encouraging co-workers, maybe a new set of friends… It would be awesome. Fresh. New. Different.

From previous conversations, it had become evident that this young woman’s life held some pretty significant chaos. She was scheduled from morning until night with things she had said “yes” to, but which left very little white space for margin in her life. She’d survived a very chaotic childhood, a couple of traumatic betrayals, the death of a friend, and she was navigating a less than ideal work situation. She found herself now in a state of pretty constant stress, and more and more frequent bouts of anxiety and sleeplessness.

And so, a fresh start in a new place sounded like a big glass of iced sweet tea on a hot summer day. It did.

The only hitch in her plan is that the peace she is looking forwon’t be found in a place. Or a friend group. Or a new job. Because the circumstances of her stress and anxiety were largely inside her – swirling around like a tornado, keeping her constantly on her toes and unable to find rest. And when the storm raging is inside of us, we take it with us wherever we go.  

My client would have to discover peace on the inside before she would ever find it anywhere.

And so, we kept talking. I explained to her the fruitlessness of picking up and relocating without first figuring things out here. While moving away is sometimes an option, our motivations reveal everything about whether we will find what we’re looking for. There’s a vast difference between running away from and running to something, someone or somewhere.

As a mental health professional, I have found that this conversation is not unusual, and so I was able to share some strategies with my client that, over time and practice, will almost certainly alleviate some of the internal storm she’s experiencing and lead her into a place of greater peace. There her mind will be clearer. Decisions will become less about escape and more about what is good for her – in the present and longterm, for a more abundant and vibrant life.  

And if you are one who struggles with some internal chaos (and let’s face it… who doesn’t?), maybe you’d like to learn about a few of those strategies, too:

• There is nothing like a good working relationship with a skilled counselor to work through past traumas (or smaller wrinkles) in your story, to navigate current situations, or to look toward future goals. There is nothing better than sitting with a competent, wise and objective someone who will listen without judgement, ask curious questions and help you to find the way forward. Find a counselor with whom you can connect and do the hard work on yourself that will lead you toward peace – a peace that will follow you wherever you go.