When I was new to practice I was still relatively young. I held a fair amount of book knowledge, but perhaps not as much experiential knowledge and certainly not a lot of knowledge about how things worked outside of the small world I was familiar with. So when people came to my office talking about their pasts, their relationships, and the difficulties they had in life, there were times when the best that I could do was to listen. If they needed the help of another professional I would refer them out, but sometimes, all they really needed was someone to listen so that they could sort things out on their own as they were talking. Because my practice grew by referrals, there were many times when someone who had been talked about was later talking to me as well. It is safe to say that I learned a lot by listening. Some of the things I learned include:
1.) The person who you believe has everything going for him/her has problems too…sometimes you just don’t know about them because he/she hides them well from most people. In fact, sometimes they hide them from other people because they know that those people believe they don’t have any problems.
2.) Many of our personal problems are created by our own beliefs and behavior and could be solved by changing either or both.
3.) People are often very embarrassed about having lived through pretty horrible childhoods. They should not be. No reasonable person would blame them for the things done to them when they were too little to understand what was even happening or to have the skills to know what to do to make it stop.
4.) The biggest challenge in almost every relationship is communication. Even in single language homes, phrases and words mean completely different things to different people.
5.) Lots of people are needlessly scared to be themselves.
6.) Most people know who everyone else thinks that they are, but they do not truly know themselves.
7.) If you are in a situation where you feel scared, alone, uncertain, or overwhelmed, use it as an opportunity for personal growth. Things worth doing often bring up those emotions and most people are genuinely happy after they decide to deal with them instead of trying to suppress them. Those who suppress them tend to feel more scared, alone, uncertain, and overwhelmed.
8.) Most people realize they are scared to die. Significantly less people realize they are scared to live.
9.) While growing up, every single person experiences some degree of dysfunction in his or her family. We all have issues appear that we don’t know how to handle at least at first. This is going to happen to parents, siblings, and other relatives as well as ourselves as we grow up. When it happens, sometimes it is going to be handled poorly and sometimes it will be handled well. Those times when it is handled poorly are the dysfunctional moments. No one ever gets it right 100% of the time, therefore, every family has some dysfunction. What really matters is what you learn from that dysfunction.
10.) We tend to express love to others the way that we would like to have it expressed to us. Others express their love to us the way they would like to have it expressed to them. The two are often very different means of expression, but both are love.
11.) The choices we make in life are seldom all good or all bad. We can choose for that to be a comfort or a torment as we try to decide, but it is true none-the-less.
12.) The better relationship someone has with him/herself, the better relationship he/she has and is capable of having with others.
Until next time, may your choices today create a healthier and more balanced you tomorrow!