The other day I mentioned the 'stuff' that we acquire through life that distances us from our real selves. But what is this stuff and how do we acquire it? As soon as we are born we are influenced by the values, beliefs and expectations of our families and society. These shape who we become and they are an important part of how we become functioning members of society. However, sometimes what we pick up is not so helpful or does not sit well with our natural characters or simply is not very effective in our lives. For example we may have acquired false beliefs that inhibit us in life, such as that we are not good enough or that we are not capable of certain things. Or we may have picked up some unhelpful behaviours like reacting defensively or angrily in inappropriate situations, which can damage our relationships. Or we may have picked up some unrealistic expectations of how life 'should' be that lead to feelings of dissatisfaction. Counselling can help us sift through all these aspects of ourselves and decide what is useful to us and what is not. Therapy allows us the freedom to make a more conscious choice in terms of the person we want to be.