I am often asked how I manage to hear about struggles, traumas, griefs, and pain day in and day out. My answer is always the same. It’s about the stories.
Everyone Has A Story
We all have a story. No one escapes this life without one. While all these stories are different, they are similar in many ways. The details change but the experiences are universal. We all have chapters of joy, excitement, and love. We also have chapters of hurt, betrayal, shame, or grief.
Of course, hearing these stories can be emotionally difficult at times, but even still, I leave sessions with a sense of admiration and respect for the person sitting across from me. I am excited and motivated about the direction their story is headed.
Our Story Isn’t Finished
If you read my last blog posts, you know that our brains can work against us in harmful ways. Our stories can become habits and old chapters can become current chapters if we are not in control of the narrative.
Most recently, working with adolescents allowed me to be in the perfect position to watch young adults as they transitioned from childhood into adulthood. Hearing their stories and watching their responses highlighted the idea that, for all of us, there is a point where life ceases to happen to us and begins to happen because of us.
Our past does not have to be a foreshadowing of our future. We can respect our previous chapters, acknowledge they happened, learn from them, and then develop into the person we want to be.
We’re More Resilient Than We Realize
Current and former clients have taught me that even the darkest of stories do not have to break our spirit. Many clients have come to me with stories full of reasons they could have given up because of anger, sadness, or grief. Somehow, they continue to move forward. While I hear stories of despair, often, there are threads of persistence and strength that weaves these experiences together.
We tend to look past the strengths that keep us going. We often quickly identify our failures or mistakes, but rarely show ourselves compassion and grace for our struggles. After watching these patterns time and time again, I listen for these hidden strengths and create ways to help my clients notice them as well.
We Hold The Pen
If we have worked together, you have probably heard me say that one day you will experience a moment where you realize that you are in control of your life and you no longer must live by the rules of your past.
Far too often the ink of our story is written by the behaviors and opinions of those around us. It is written by the events that happen to us. Sometimes it is written so quickly and with such bold lettering we feel as though we have no control over the direction our story leads. The more we feel out of control, the more room we leave for other pens to take control.
I work with clients to help them notice the current authors of their story and to discover ways in which they can begin to write their own chapters.
Therapy Is About Relationships
Professionally, this is has been my most important lesson. To become a therapist, you must spend a lot of time learning theories, skills, and rules. These skills are important, but also useless if you cannot build a relationship with someone in the first place. Being my authentic self, while prepared with clinical skills, provides an opportunity for you to make positive changes.
The client brings their most honest self to a counseling session and needs a space where they can be respected, talked about directly, and reflected upon honestly but with grace. Therapy works when the therapeutic relationship provides room for a person to share their story and all its painful details while still being respected, encouraged, and cared for. This is when you learn that your story no longer has to be the end of your story. This is when you, the author of your story, begin your journey towards the future you.