I never know where he is going to be - he is always getting on a plane. I don’t have even a minute to think - I am pulled in a thousand directions.

I just want to move. Anywhere.

This room is a bit hot.

I am determined to make more money this year.

I love this blanket - it is so soft.

I can’t make my session next week because of a meeting.

I can’t afford therapy.

My partner and I don’t have time to spend together - our work schedules are totally out of sync.

This room is chilly.

My feet are cold.

I need my husband to go to therapy.

As therapists, we are trained to hear statements such as the above expressing many possible levels of meaning. The meanings are unique every time.

When we’re talking about the outside we’re talking about the inside.

It is often safer to externalize our problems. To put them out there in the world and throw up our hands or complain.

But our experience of the world is our experience. It’s not actually out there. There’s no difference.

So from the dinner table to the presidential debates we can listen to what we are hearing. We can hear the content. And we can also ask - what is being said here about the experience of the person speaking? What is going on for them? And what is their relational stance to me, the listener?

And we can ask this of ourselves when the world and its imperfections and demands calls our attention over and over again. What is happening for us - us.

This level of listening can take the situation to a new level.

Beyond 'issues' to the emotions and experiences below the issues.

Our feelings hang onto ideas. Because we have been taught that ideas are the thing. But below our ideas are always feelings. Feelings that need some air.

And so: I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m hungry. I’m too busy.

Becomes: Will you love me? Just as I am? Am I alright? Will you stick with me no matter what? I’m scared.