The name of my counseling site comes from the ancient quote attributed to Socrates while he was on trial for his life. While defending himself before the citizens of Athens, Socrates’ claim has two radical implications for humanity.
The first is the acknowledgement that we are the kinds of beings who can reflect back on our past, consider our present, and even project about things in the future. While we are not alone in experiencing emotions, humans do consider the “big issues” of life, “who am I?”, “why am I here?”, and “is there any meaning to life?” These are perennial questions that confronted the ancients as much as they still are live questions for us today.
The second implication that comes from this claim is that Socrates believed that certain ways of living are better than other ways of living. This is fundamentally a judgment claim about what is good and what is not good, which is based on what kind of thing we are, namely human. Socrates is not afraid to claim and defend the idea that a life in which we avoid self-examination is not the kind of life we are supposed to live. The temptation I believe in our world is to skirt our responsibility to honestly evaluate our own lives’. This comes in two main forms; first we avoid examining what our values and commitments are and instead function based on past habits and strategies we’ve developed along the way. Essentially some of us navigate life without a compass or a North Star.
The second way we avoid self-examination is, we fail to be honest about whether we’re living in alignment with those values. Rather than letting those values, that personal philosophy, guide your life we actually substitute the values we claim we stand for, for learned behaviors and patterns that are not rooted in our personal values.Counseling then, can help the person, couple, or group examine what are our values, and ask are these values actually going to lead us to where we want to go? Counseling can also help develop plans of action to better align your life with what you say is important to you.