Therapists live in a world of ideas and experience that has become their “common sense,” so familiar to them it constitutes the fabric of their being. Yet counselors hesitate to offer such knowledge at treatment’s start.
Were they to do so they’d not get the opportunity to find out who you are; and which of those considerations must be knit into the garment of treatment the two of you will share.
Beginnings are not managed best by giving you a lecture or assigning you a reading. Creation of a relationship and safety come first.
Here then are a few notions perhaps unfamiliar to you. No psychologist’s list but mine:
- We all edit ourselves, refine our self-presentation to suit conditions. Once we commence crossing out words, erasing opinions, using white-out on our outline, there may soon be nothing left of us. Whomever is the artificial creature created by hiding the ink-stained unsightliness, public applause for the fiction we’ve fashioned will be less satisfying than if we present truth and receive approval, at least from inside.
- The therapist not only discloses little about himself to avoid getting in the way of the transference. He retreats from imparting his own wisdom — an uncontestable opinion on everything. The patient must find his own. Note, I just violated that rule. Doctor/patient obligations don’t apply here. Neither are my opinions all unassailable.
- Counseling can make you worse.
- Your life won’t be ideal when you say goodbye to the clinician. Disappointment, stress, and death find everyone. Gridlock and rain foil your picnic plans. Your heart will break, desires go unfulfilled, the snow cancels your flight. But comes the day when summer marches in and hope may yet find a runway.
- No two will ever establish a perfect bond together, but much is possible between well-matched people who do the winning of their love over and over.
- Those among us who build ramparts against danger reduce the chance of growth and dazzling surprise. Injury is inescapable even in a lifetime of hiding. Homo sapiens learn to manage risk or else resemble ostriches: still vulnerable despite burying a part of their essence before they die.*
- Most of the planet is covered with average people. If, through natural talent or effort you can make something more of yourself, you will stand higher than your peers.
- Accept people whole or reject them whole. The majority change around the edges, inches at a time, if at all. Few (short of a profound course of personality remaking or a transformative life event) will alter more than moderately.
- No man or woman can be an expert surgeon who carves out unlikable parts of others and leaves the rest intact. Imitate the architect instead: one who recognizes a column of support, a load bearing beam essential to a building’s integrity. Remove such a part of a person you otherwise admire leaves sawdust and splinters, wreaking what made him admirable.
- The most heroic clients begin in pursuit of a wise man’s guidance and end by leading the way, overcoming everything.
- Life, not your counselor, demands metamorphosis. Each person develops adaptive styles to fit his early place and time. He comes to therapy older and off balance: like riding upon the tread of once useful tires now worn away, no longer holding the road. Without their replacement he will crash.
- Statis is not achievable or desirable. Each of us must adapt to a transforming world, a changing body, a different moment in history; a new set of relationships, situations, and requirements. Contentment requires “getting used to not getting used to things.” (Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain ).
- People are far more concerned with themselves than with you. Your embarrassing moments pass unnoticed or speed into forgetfulness. Of course, this was more true before everyone bought a camera phone.
- Few of us understand each other well. We peer at neighbors as if through sun glasses in the darkened room of our own experience alone. Most don’t take the time to acquire the psychological expertise to do better. In any case, we must start by understanding ourselves. People tend to believe they do — their first mistake.
- Therapists search for maladaptive behavior patterns patients are repeating. Repetition of your parents’ mistakes also happens. You might follow in their ill-placed footsteps to reach similar goals and befriend similar people. Beware. Their mission is not yours, no matter your genetic likeness.
- With each added excuse you give for your acts or utterances you betray more insecurity. Even if the excuses you give are to yourself.
- Silence is necessary. Quiet is the needed background for the words you wish to place in the foreground. Conversation is not a test of rapid response time. Eye contact serves better than talking too much.
- The more conventional you are, the more difficult to understand someone who is unconventional. The more unconventional you are the more you will be misunderstood.
- Words are limited. Words are also needed. Ludwig Wittgenstein described their limits this way: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” All that most matters in life is beyond verbalization. Thus, analysis of beauty and love take us only so far. Intuition comes nearest to the indescribable.
- The more logical you are, the harder to understand someone who is emotional. The more you believe you approximate complete rationality, the more you are wrong. The more you think humans are skin-covered computers, the more you misunderstand humanity. We often reach our decisions instinctively and emotionally. A heartbeat later reasons appear, but we credit the rationalized motives with authorship of the decisions.**
- Everyone prefers simple explanations. Conduct sometimes has a single cause, but much of what we do is multi-determined or overdetermined. That is, more than one factor influences our actions and attitudes. For example, you want money to live, but use it to impress. Perhaps it makes you more secure, improves your self-worth, and wins companionship, as well.
- Those who realize they (and their fellow-men) are not always rational own an advantage. They question superficial reasoning. This recognition is itself an important piece of knowledge.
- Be wary of intimate disclosure too soon — in or out of session. You might frighten someone away. Or be terrified by the naked feelings and thoughts you released . Reinvention involving affective expression is best done gradually.
- “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” (Friedrich Nietzche).
- On the other hand, ” To see something as a whole one must have two eyes, one of love and one of hate.” (Nietzche again).
- Living in the moment is dangerous, not living in the moment is torturous. Outside of the moment you will be lost too often in self-made agony: swallowed by regret, wrapped with trepidation, or worried what others think. Within a joyous instant, by contrast, self-consciousness disappears, clocks dissolve, and everything else falls away. Ego is abandoned to the eternity of an episode transcending time. The concern here, however, is that your alert system is also discarded, leaving you exposed.
- Master meditators suggest the solution to life distress is not to judge the circumstances (piling pain on pain), but accepting your condition as it is. Yet they spend lots of time meditating as opposed to existing in the arena, don’t they?
- The species to which we belong can rationalize anything. Consider your friends. Eyeball yourself in the mirror. Even if you have been tested and think you passed, remember who scored the exam: you did.
- Be an enemy of routine. Give the now everything you have, lest the slicing second-hand of the clock wastes you and your time.
- Move toward something, not just away. Be for something, not against everything.
One more. Look up. At architectural wonders, at the powder blue sky. Down at all the small creatures and growing things. Watch the passing beauties of a world in motion. Do not allow your sophistication to impede perception. Hold fast to childlike wonder. Accept joy where it is given.
The chestnut by the eaves
In magnificent bloom
By men of the world.***
Moral: do not allow the chestnut “in magnificent bloom” to go “unnoticed.”
The top photo (untitled) is the work of the author, 2018.
*Ostriches have gotten a bad rap. They do not bury their heads in the sand to avoid danger or for any other reason. Asphyxiation would be the result. Rather, they dig underground using their head to fashion a nest for their eggs. Beyond this, they also stick their heads into the nest to turn the eggs.
** See Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.
*** Haiku from Narrow Road to the Deep North by Matsuo Bashō, 1694.
I was wrong about ostriches. Another great post, Dr. S! I’m guilty of *not* abiding by most of the points you made. Your words are very wise. Also, I like your photography work, and the idea of looking at the beauty in the world. It’s so easy to know that what you suggest would make our lives easier, but why is it so hard to actually do? I also don’t know what you meant by accepting a person whole or rejecting a person whole. Is it possible to reject or accept a person partially? That point made me really think. If I have a hard time accepting my own self whole, do I fail to accept others whole as well? I think I might be making that mistake. That is such an interesting point, as really are all your points.
Thanks, multinomial. What I meant was that since we can’t “carve out” the parts we don’t like, and since most people will not change because we want them to and can’t be changed unilaterally by us, we are left either to accept them “flaws” and all, or reject them and give up whatever we like about them. Even two people in marital therapy are challenged by the others’ desire for changes and may not get every change desired. We are left, most often, with the need to change ourselves. Indeed, the Stoic philosophers pointed out that we alone are in our power, no one else. I hope that helps.
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Thank you, Dr. S. Your explanation helps. It’s kind of like finding the “deal breaker” in relationships. I can see how hard this would be for families with children or with “battered wife’s syndrome,” or with those in otherwise intimate partner violence situations – whereby leaving/rejecting a person who is not healthy for you (or a toxic environment in other settings) is better than staying in unhealthy conditions for you. We cannot change other people; we can influence them to change, but they must be willing to change themselves. This is a hard lesson for any individual to learn, but pointing fingers often happens as a result of one’s anger toward someone else’s unwillingness to change. And, sometimes change is not for the best; sometimes the other person wants to change someone else to have control over that other person, not because it is in the best interests of that other person to actually change. I can see the benefits of stoicism more clearly now, and how an internal locus of control and an internal locus of responsibility can both help in such matters. However, when systemic issues are embedded, as ecological systems theorists have suggested, there are some manners in which society (or an external locus of responsibility) are responsible, though individual responsibility is still required for systemic-based changes to happen, as well as for macro-level changes to occur. Interpersonal relationships are complex and dynamic, but the two must be willing to work together and, individually, own up to their own responsibilities for it to work. When only one party is doing all the work, it won’t work; the relationship remains imbalanced. I’m wondering, then, what the opposite of stoicism is. Hmm.
Well said, multinomial. The Stoics (Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius) write a good deal about how non-Stoics live, thus providing an answer to your question. They are too preoccupied with getting and spending, status, and the pain of being human. They have not accepted that being human means pain is inevitable and, in a certain sense “normal.” They also believe grieving is appropriate and necessary, but should not go on indefinitely. Of course, they are talking about the events of adulthood, not child abuse and all that comes with it. Moreover, they were fine with the idea of suicide, believing that if life got too painful you always had a way out. If you recall reading Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” you will recall that Brutus commits suicide and that he is later described as “the noblest Roman of them all.”
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Sadly, I haven’t read any of those, but now I’m interested! I will put that on my “to-read” list. I failed to pay attention in school as a child, so I don’t remember reading Julius Caesar at all. I am aware of the name, but I completely forgot what it was about. Then again, I truly cannot recall most of my childhood, so I will take the time to read some of the classics as well as some major philosophers. The only thing I know about Shakespeare is Macbeth, but I only watched a film that adapted that story from Shakespeare’s work. I’ve got a lot of learning to do, as my assumptions about stoicism are largely based on the stigmas presented from certain educations concerning certain “clients” who need “stoic approaches” (so as not to “become the ‘other'”). I thought that was sort of harsh or cold, but then again, I lack a ton of experience that those people may have had. Thank you, Dr. S.
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#3. Counseling can make you worse. Hmmmm, please explain. I think I might know what you’re saying.
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There are many ways to be injured by counseling, more than I can cover in a few words. To take one example, I’ve known therapists who tried to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder psychoanalytically, when they literature is clear about the effectiveness of exposure and response prevention as the treatment of choice based on well-designed and replicated research. The power differential in the session is another potential area of harm. I would recommend anyone who is thinking of entering therapy become familiar with evidence-based research before they make the leap. Of course, many or most of those who do begin counseling are too distressed to do so, understandably. Thanks for your question, Suzuki.
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Dr. S. To build on what you stated about evidence-based research, I was wondering what your thought are on the following (which perhaps could be best explained as a separate posting, if you have the time; if you don’t, I’d understand). (1) The biases involved in research, such that certain theoretical orientations are challenging to research for evidence-based practices, or that certain non-significant findings are left out of publications – and how all of that affects what are considered EBR? (2) Are randomized controlled trials the best and/or only method for establishing EBR? (3) How often do practitioners actually adhere to or even read peer-reviewed journal articles, so as to implement EBR into their practice? Put another way, how exactly does evidence-based research affect policy and practice? (4) At what point, after multiple replications (or even with mixed findings), does research become considered evidence-based? Is there a certain number of significant findings that must be met before a method or treatment effect can be considered evidence-based? Does a meta-analysis need to be conducted for consideration of an evidence-based practice? (5) As consumers (i.e., clients), how can we determine whether or not a particular evidence-based treatment method is being administered properly, and for the correct diagnosis? Are we able to ask for “second opinions” in the same manner as those with physiological disorders or symptoms can ask for second opinions? (6) As consumers, how can we determine whether a particular treatment method is, in fact, evidence-based? (7) When treatments are relatively “new” and are under consideration for becoming “evidence-based,” how can consumers find out about the “newness” of research, so that they can be given alternative options for sound and well-tested (evidence-based) research instead? (8) When it comes to patients’ preferences, how does that factor in to evidence-based practices and the choosing of a particular treatment method? (I ask this because I had attended an APA-hosted webinar regarding the recent uproar a year or two ago on the concern about RCTs and EBR, and one of the questions I asked was concerning the need for future directions in research, in which the speaker replied with a mention that we could research patient preferences.) (9) When it comes to cultural sensitivity, individual factors, and “outliers,” how do therapists weigh their evidence-based practices against the unique needs of the client that may not have been researched much and therefore not yet considered evidence-based, but nonetheless needed? There are statements about the ethics on treating specific types of clients, and how they should be referred out if the therapist is not trained or properly capable of handling certain clients with unique or complex needs. However, if those needs are largely widespread among minority or marginalized populations, such as the assumption that therapists and clients should match one another’s cultural backgrounds or political backgrounds in order to avoid ruptures and other alliance-based issues, then that would mean that many minorities and marginalized populations will be turned away from affordable treatment and, as in my experiences, quite often referred to specialized treatments that require more out-of-pocket expenses that many people (not all) cannot afford. Sadly, what happens in such cases, is that clients (like me) learn to withhold some information so that they can be treated for some (not all) of their symptoms, which may backfire on the client when the client is not able to get all of his or her symptoms addressed and treated. In other cases, clients learn to not seek treatment at all and instead learn to self-medicate or self-heal. In those cases, some help might be better than none. But then again, some help might actually make things worse. In terms of a course I took on the subject of “community psychology,” the professor had presented an article (and an argument) about how there isn’t enough therapists to treat all the people in the world for their symptoms. But my thoughts on that centered around the fact that the same argument could apply in terms of physical health care as well (of course, I was arguing about parity, also). –Overall, I have all these questions as both a client/consumer and a student-hopeful. I’m sure the general population, whose individuals I have spent the most time with, has similar questions.
Well, multinomial, professors must find you a delightful student!. I will deal only with one of your many good questions: “3) How often do practitioners actually adhere to or even read peer-reviewed journal articles, so as to implement EBR into their practice? Put another way, how exactly does evidence-based research affect policy and practice?” My experience suggests that those who are CBT practitioners, where much of the evidence-based treatment is found, tend to pay attention. Elsewhere, practitioners might lean toward theoretical writing. Unfortunately, unless you are trained in both doing the research and practice, many professionals cannot do a critical and knowing reading of a research article even if they tried! As to the leap from research to practice, take EMDR. The last time I paid attention to this, the support for it as a better or more efficient way to deal with trauma was lacking: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/emdr-taking-a-closer-look/
In Illinois, to maintain your license you need 24 hours of continuing education every two years, some of which must come in the ethics of practice. The father of sociology, Durkheim, first identified how all of us have become estranged from others as our professional lives have become more specialized. The solution to this has been to become more narrow in one’s field of expertise. This creates a problem for all health care professionals, not just therapists. They find the job of “keeping up” with professional developments more challenging and time consuming. They also have a harder time talking to each other! All this is to say that the gulf between research findings and practice can be significant.
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Thank you, Dr. S! (Professors either hate me or love me, or love me at first and then hate me later. I ask a lot of questions, and then I poke and prod some more. I’ll have to work on my people skills in order to be more in line with an “ideal” student – at least, an overachiever with some reserve and containment.) CBT was really helpful for me, though I don’t know why I feel that I’m missing some benefit of some other therapy that might help me more (I’m speaking here as a patient, not a student, and one who has had many different types of therapies – primarily for the short-term) . What you said makes sense, however. I can’t imagine what it is like for practitioners to stay up to speed with all the new findings; that must be exhausting, even if their focus is narrowed to one specialization. EMDR never worked for me; in fact, I was highly sensitive to the many different forms that were administered to me – from the pencil waving back and forth while I was in a psychiatric unit for a week, or the extension of EMDR called “brainspotting” that was done halfway without the “wand” to spot my brain (the headphones were on, and the VA therapist at the time just asked me questions or had me speak about my current issues – not even my past issues – as she said I needed to get used to them). I don’t think their administration of EMDR or brainspotter were done properly, so I didn’t benefit from that at all. It just seemed like I was in some weird experiment that made me feel “controlled” and highly sensitive to touch, and then I dissociated at other times. I never actually processed anything with those two methods. DBT is sometimes used for PTSD, even at the VA, but my three different forms of DBT over the course of three different years with three different MH professionals were not helpful for me, though they were helpful for some others. DBT, to me, was “basic knowledge” stuff, and it almost made me feel like I was being fragilized and infantilized when I was mature and strong enough to handle the suggestions they were making. CBT, overall those treatments, made more sense and was more simplistic and parallel to my intelligence. The other methods depend on how they are administered and by whom, in my opinion. They also work for some populations but not others, which should be looked into. And when I say looked into, I mean that some people may have been misdiagnosed when receiving those treatments, whereas others may have other mental health issues that interact with other mental health disorders and their related treatments. I also should say that therapy resisting behavior is not always the simplistic answer to mixed or nonsignificant findings; in any given relationship, including the therapeutic alliance, it takes two to tango, and there are many confounds that have not been identified and/or controlled for. When it comes down to it, the relationship with the therapist is highly important, and the trust that the therapy being administered properly is equally as important. All the rest can be worked out in some way. But for those with comorbidity, it’s not so simple. One treatment for one disorder may interact negatively with the absence of a treatment for another coexisting disorder; to research each treatment effect on a unilateral basis does little to address the prevalence of comorbidity among the vast majority of clients who present with more than one disorder or more than a range of symptoms that may or may not meet the requisites of particular disorders. When clients (who have no knowledge about psychology – or, for that matter, the difference between a psychologist, a counselor with a Master’s degree, and a psychiatrist) – walk into the talk therapist’s office, they may be unaware of what their diagnosis is (i.e., they need assessments, but may not know that they need assessments), and therefore they may not know what treatments for their unknown disorders exist in order to look up evidence-based treatments. They may not know what evidence-based treatments mean. Then there are some who may have been misdiagnosed or correctly diagnosed who haven’t had the best of luck with past therapies and would therefore not know why it didn’t work, if it would work with some other professional, or if they were in fact misdiagnosed and thus in need of a new assessment. Translating research, policy, and practice to practitioners is tough, but imagine how tough it is for both students and clients to navigate around the plethora of information that exists in clinical psychology alone! One need not a degree to understand how tough it is to find the answers to the myriad problems that exist among mental illness and maladaptive internalizing and externalizing symptoms and behaviors, respectively. As both a client and a former student of psychology, I’m left with more questions than answers, and I’m more confused than I am clear about who I am and how in the world I survived to this point. All I know is that something must have worked correctly while other stuff didn’t, and that I feel more empathy for those with mental illnesses who aren’t getting treated properly. Still, I have much respect for researchers and practitioners who spend nearly every day of their lives trying to tackle all these problems and manage their work-life balance in the midst. The secondary traumas and compassion fatigue that might be experienced by such professionals are beyond what I can fathom, so I highly respect those who meet those challenges every day! I may be argumentative and in disagreement at times, and I may have emotional reactions to some of the things I’ve heard and seen in terms of psychotherapy, but I have always maintained my respect for those who sacrifice their time (and, in some cases, their lives) to help others in some meaningful way. Such services benefit individuals, communities, and our nation.
Just to respond to one point, not all “effective” treatments are effective for everyone, as you know both personally and from your studies. Still, having such knowledge of what “usually” works or works more often than the available alteratives is better than knowing nothing.
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Great photo! I’ll have to stop next time I remember to look up. No more falls! I read your blog just after reading an article about Terry Gross of “Fresh Air.” Good juxtaposition. I feel doubly enlightened.
Thanks, Joan. Actually, I saw the guy walking ahead of me look up and stop. I wondered what he was looking it. Then I saw what I tried to capture in the photo.
Dr. Stein-What a wonderful piece!
Could you please explain the concept of a therapist and client who do the “winning of their love” over and over? Deb
Thanks, Deb. I was not referring to therapist/client relations, but rather to any two people in the world who fall in love and hope for that love to continue. The research suggests that there are predictable ups and downs having to do, for example, with raising children. Additionally, we tend to live an enormously long time by historical standards, so relationships get taxed and tested. It is hard to “keep it new” and sometimes, even to listen to the end of a sentence from the other, where you think you’ve heard the beginning 1000 times before! The point being you have to remind yourself what you are grateful for and what is good, exercise forgiveness, try to adapt and remake yourself, work on acceptance, be careful of temptation, and fight for “or win over and over” the love that came easily early on.
Thank you so much. I love the last sentence…
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This was a great post. Lots of truths and food for thought.
Thank you, Rayne.
The two points I’m most guilty of (among others on the list) are these: “With each added excuse you give for your acts or utterances you betray more insecurity. Even if the excuses you give are to yourself.” AND “Silence is necessary. Quiet is the needed background for the words you wish to place in the foreground. Conversation is not a test of rapid response time. Eye contact serves better than talking too much.” I make many excuses, which probably explains my growing insecurities. I need to work better at being more honest with myself and honest with my self-improvement. Additionally, I speak to much, as evidenced by my long-winded posts. I once considered myself to have typographia or some other form of hypergraphia, but that’s just an excuse. I don’t have epilepsy, as far as I’m aware, and I know I can contain my words when I need to, but I also know that loneliness leaves one with the cravings of communicating with others when such is lost with self-induced isolation or with other-induced ostracizing. I have no excuse; I’m rude and should respect others’ time. I have to get used to socializing properly again, or reintegrating back into society after many years of being in and out of hospitals and secluded within the confines of my home or some hospital’s institution. The effects of institutionalization and isolation require more effort on my part to communicate better – even with therapists whom I speak too quickly with in order to get out as much information in a short amount of time. I dreaded the “time’s up” phase of 50-minute sessions where I’d walk out the door in tears and dealing with a lot to process for an entire week before I saw my therapist next. And I dreaded the three-month evaluation or six-month evaluation or two-week evaluation – when the therapist concluded that that was all the therapy I needed or that I needed some other specialist who deals with “complex cases” like me. I used to think that verbal vomiting of my entire life’s history would help them arrive at that conclusion much faster than having me waste their time and my money. I should have approached it differently, but I haven’t had the best of role models either. Despite all these hangups, I recognize that I alone need to work on these issues. I need to stop and smell the roses; I need to utilize the kind of mindfulness that allows me to not dissociate while doing it. But I also need to avoid distractions and get to the nitty gritty of the issues I need to speak about in order to process them and the pain and fears I still have on a daily basis. I forgot what it felt like to sit still and silent without rumination, anticipation, and fear. Silence brings tears sometimes, but I suppose it also enhances relationships and self-awareness – especially when trying your hardest to not dissociate or fall asleep.
Well, your self-awareness puts you on the right path. There is a continuum here: we all have a limited time on the planet and, if we face that, the next question becomes what is the best use of that time. Many senior musicians have been known to narrow their repertoire to only those few pieces that mean the most to them. As the legendary Artur Schnabel said, “to play those pieces that are greater than they can be performed.” He meant loftier, most reflective of the genius of the composer.
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You’re like a walking encyclopedia, Dr. Stein. How do you remember all these famous people and their quotes? Thank you for the complement and advice. 🙂
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Oops, I meant that your recall of famous people and their quotes are amazing! I will learn to pick and choose what is most important for the timing and place, and then figure out when to just be silent and/or listen/observe. Thank you for the feedback!
I’ve been blessed with a good memory. I also have what is called a good “incidental” memory, meaning that I notice things and recall them; moreover, I’m curious about lots of what we would say makes up “life.” This made my conversations doing therapy interesting for me. I learned vicariously from my patients about their experiences and emotions; of course, not the same as “living it,” but useful to me and, to those who succeeded them in my office, if some of what I learned helped me understand others.
As to recalling the quotes, often I consult Google!
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Oh, wow. That’s amazing. I never heard of that term before – “incidental memory.” That’s an awesome talent, and one that was probably very useful for you as a professional. Okay, so Google helped with the quotes. Although, for you to even recall what to look up on Google to be able to quote those is an amazing gift! Your memory is quite incredible. I don’t have that great of memory, though I can recall some odd microexpressions from others at the strangest of times. Your gift really does help. It’s not only interesting, but your examples really do parallel the empathy you feel toward others as well as the understanding you have for others. I’m sure your clients in the past were very appreciative of your gifts!
You are very kind.
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I zeroed in on your comments in #8 and #9 that, to me, are linked:
“Accept people whole or reject them whole… Remove such a part of a person you otherwise admire leaves sawdust and splinters, wreaking what made him admirable.”
In my experience of building new friendships in my adoptive homelands, your observations ring true. No one is perfect, myself included. In understanding this, I have been able to connect with others who hold different belief systems but share a common humanity.
Yes, I thought of them as linked, as well. For many it takes a long time — often more years than they have — to realize that the terms life permits cannot be changed. Thanks for your always worthy comments, Rosaliene.
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I especially like this quote…”People are far more concerned with themselves than with you. Your embarrassing moments pass unnoticed or speed into forgetfulness. Of course, this was more true before everyone bought a camera phone.” When I am filled with anxiety and anguish over something I think I may have said or done to hurt others, or embarrass myself, I need to remind myself of this. My therapist stresses to me “Because you are worried about this it looms large in your mind, when what you are worrying about does not even register with the other person. What you are worrying about never, never, happens.” He is right of course, but each incident always sets me off in a new direction. I am trying to remember and reduce the amount of time worrying about something. My last incident I reduced the worrying to 24 hours from three days or more. Being consumed this way is exhausting and is a life ruiner.
It does eat up time, Nancy, one of the most precious things we have. But, you’ve made remarkable progress! You correctly identify that catastrophes are long shots. In addition, your therapist probably has reminded you that if the worst would happen you’d survive and adapt. The very worst things most often take the form of surprises, not those events we spend most of our time expecting, imagining, or fearing.
Oh you are so right, Dr. Stein. EVERYTHING I have ever worried about truly does not come to pass, and it usually my consuming worry about offending or hurting others, when reality is I am very polite, kind, empathic, and thoughtful. It is the old tapes that keep replaying themselves, but I am improving. We can not control the unexpected. I enjoy your blog because your wisdom is very helpful and supports my own therapy. I hope you and your family have a very nice Thanksgiving!
Glad to help and thanks for saying so. Best to you and your loved ones, as well.