One of those clients – The day nothing could be done
I recently had what we in the psychotherapy business call, one of those patients. The type of patient that stubbornly and resourcefully clings to their beliefs. Regardless of what the environment/feedback is telling them (even that the earth is flat.) The kind of patient that inwardly really does mean well, however, the harder they seek to help, the less effective they become.
Despite persistently trying to bring about a shift in the patients viewpoints via reframing, perceptual positions and a host of other strategies and ‘tricks’, still nothing. In desperation I sought to systematically go thought the pre-suppositions of NLP (again) to highlight reasoning that was not facilitating a state of resourcefulness. Still nothing.
Highlighting that the meaning of all communication is the response it elicits and to respect others map, using logic, empirically based arguments and who knows what else. Still nada.
Then, it all dawned upon me. I was fighting myself. I was walking deeper and deeper into a pit of frustration. And the situation or relationship I’m referring to remains my most challenging. In short, my assumptions and critique of their behavioural trajectory, decisions and health lead me to believe that they were racing towards a premature end and utter oblivion. This pained me deeply.
“if you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family” ~Ram Dass~
I could give a host of subjective reasons why I went outside the boundaries of my training and sought to change/disrespect their map of the world to have them relook at what they are doing to themselves; but that simply would neither be useful nor helpful. The fact of the matter is that each person is in charge of his or her mind thus his or her results, and I must respect that. Regardless of how much I desire to keep them alive, healthy and thriving.
I forgot that the most important factor or ingredient needed to bring about change is intent. However motivated the individual is to bring about sustained change in their life, the reality is that you can take a horse to the water – you can pick them up and throw them into the water, even going as far as drowning that horse. But if they do not want to drink, there is nothing you or I can do about it.
Now I hear you saying well just let them be, it is their life. Correct, however I was seduced by my own desires. See I do not easily invest in people nor bring them close into my being, so in this case I was blinded by my own desire for continued attachment. Take a moment to reflect on the following questions:
• At what point do you stand back and let a loved one slowly decay into a shadow of their former self?
• What if that person was your teenage sister, a son or parent for that matter?
• What if you were witnessing them being lured into a web of substance abuse, eating disorders or abusive relationships?
I know my answer, only because I have mauled it over for many years. Sadly, my answer has not brought about much joy or easy of living. Simply because what I wanted and what the other wants is seldom the same thing. After many years of fighting, boughs of anxiety and endless acting out – I’m beginning to learn and understand that I am the only person responsible for how I feel.
I have no right to force my will upon anyone, no matter how well intentioned I believe it to be. Once I began to more fully realise this and incorporate it into my way of being my anxiety eased and I could again resourcefully remain in my NOW. Each relationship and sentient being that crosses our path holds the potential and opportunity for us to learn a lesson and grow. As many of you have come to realize, you can ignore a lesson or stone in your shoe, for only so long.
It is vitally important to recall that you and I write our own script, so what are you benefiting from adding so much drama? Instead, keep writing scenes full of empowerment and constant resourcefulness.
Always remember, if what your doing is not working change it, lets not fall victim to what Einstein defined as insanity – *doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result. At the end of the day, you can always do something even if that something is stepping back and allowing the other to walk into destruction with open arms and a smile on their face.
Step away, set yourself free – learn from afar, take notes and keep focusing on creating the life that you have always desired. You know that you are deserving of it. Do not let the behaviours, pain or dogma of others drag your gaze away from your goals! As the old adage highlights, the hardest thing to do and the right thing to do are often the same thing.
It has taken me years of continued self-exploration and curiosity to gain deeper insights into myself and my practise. Slowly I’m beginning to love those on a path to destruction simply because it is their path and I must respect that. Besides you can take that horse to the water, but you cannot make a duck wear a saddle!
Wesley Kew, Clinical Psychologist firstname.lastname@example.org