We all face challenges at different stages of our lives, and will wear many hats throughout this time including: child, sibling, friend, partner, parent, grandparent, student, teacher, mentor, employee, and employer. Within these Life Issues we also have to manage our own personal core issues, which can resurface many times in life if no attention is provided to fix the problems that keep coming up.
What are “Life Issues”?
Life Issues that present are never ending in our busy western society and culture. Life Issues are the constant challenges we face which sometimes are not so easy to manage and navigate. The ongoing ‘busy’ nature of western societal life can cause additional stress even though these life issues can be positive and are a normal part of life. Transitions from one challenge to another can cause us to experience mixed feelings and confusion, together with excitement, stress, uncertainty, and/or loss.
Some examples of life issues:
- changing schools, jobs or cities;
- moving out of home or in with a partner;
- money and financial security
- navigating problems within a friendship, partnership or family relationship;
- clarifying your sexuality and coming out to family and friends, starting a relationship or getting married;
- pregnancy, family planning and work/life balance;
- becoming a parent or managing a blended family; making changes after separation or divorce; adjusting to a different lifestyle after your children leave home;
- managing physical and emotional health
- planning the next phase of life after retirement.
What are “Core Issues”?
Most of us have one or more ‘core issues’ which surface repeatedly over the course of our lives. These issues are usually rooted in deep unexpressed fears. Depending on your perspective, core issues either cause all sorts of problems, or present many opportunities for transformation. When you choose to look at core life issues as an opportunity, you are much more likely to transform your fears into learning tools which lead to a better life.
Below are the most common “Core Issues” and their associated fears:
- Abandonment – Nobody cares about me. I’m all alone. I don’t matter.
- Arrogance – I’m better than all of you. I’m too much. I’m right and you’re wrong.
- Damaged – Something is wrong with me. I’m a failure. I’m damaged.
- Inferiority – I’m not good enough. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I’m boring. I’m hopeless.
- Rejection – I’m a burden. I’m unwanted. Nobody wants to spend time with me.
- Shame – I’m bad. I’m evil. I’m a mistake. I’m a monster. I’m disgusting. I’m possessed.
These core issues often originate from childhood family scenarios. They can be a result of negative messages that were repeated many times to us by our parents or other significant people in our lives. Or one of these beliefs may have been driven deep into us during one or more traumatic experiences. Was one of the above statements drilled into you in your early years?
Note that some people are over-compensators. If you are in this category, you may unconsciously do everything you can to make it appear as if you are anything but your core life issue. For instance, someone with inferiority as a core fear might outwardly appear very macho or domineering. Yet deep inside, this is covering up a fear of being inferior. A person dealing with shame may be overly nice and giving to cover up a fear that they are really bad.
Examples of Behavior of Over-compensators and associated behaviours:
- Abandonment – Always need to be included, join everything to avoid deeper feelings.
- Arrogance – Act very humble, hiding their deeper belief that no one can match them.
- Damaged – Present themselves as always great, avoid talking about their problems.
- Inferiority – Macho, domineering, need to prove they are better than others.
- Rejection – Present themselves as incredibly desirable, yet reject others easily.
- Shame – Overly nice and giving. Over competency. Secretly fear being exposed as fraud.
Whether you are an over-compensator or not, by exploring the deep, underlying fears of your core issues, you can transform your life for the better.
By identifying and choosing to deal with our core life issues, we transform our deepest fears and end up feeling more alive and more connected with ourselves and with those around us. This then inspires us to participate more fully and effectively in building a brighter future.
Counselling is not only for more serious problems with diagnostic criteria – it can provide you with understanding and support during times of managing Life Issues and Core Issues especially when uncertainty raises its ugly head, and transition from one challenge to another is inevitable in our ever busy and constantly changing society.