WHAT WE DON’T HAVE TO DO
Last year I wrote a piece on Starting Therapy that could be helpful to share with friends who are starting in therapy (or thinking about starting in therapy.) It is my consistent experience both as therapist and client that while commitment to the practice of showing up and talking is the foundation of the work, there is a lot of grace involved too.
We create the conditions for things to happen. We enter therapy. We try to choose the right therapist. We talk about the process and we talk in therapy about ourselves, our lives, our experiences.
We’re talking at the border between what we know and what we don’t know. The border between the conscious and the unconscious.
Feelings come and go. Physical sensations arise and fade away.
And then, perhaps at an unexpected moment. Perhaps during a routine task. Something shifts. An opening. A tear. A feeling of being on solid ground. I remember being on the subway and all of a sudden I was really there. On the subway.
We can’t make this happen. We can’t force the experiential understanding that comes with long-term work in therapy.
I think of it as grace.
I think of it as what we don’t have to do.
It’s not magic and there are many clinicians who might argue with my perspective. But from the perspective of experience rather than theory it comes across to me as grace.
It is grace because I don’t know what it will look like or when it will happen but I do know that opening myself up and trying to hold a broader understanding of my experience, trying to pick up more pieces and call them mine, working in a relationship with another person to do this - this results in a fuller experience of life.
I keep feeling the desire to go to theory in this post - to explain it.
I’m trying to resist the explaining and just tell you what I experience.
Somehow, as my technique and understanding increases over time I have a corresponding desire to honour the process of living which goes on despite our thinking, talking, and planning.
And I’m wondering what else I don’t have to do.