In my twenties, I recall going on a Dale Carnegie training course, and being told ‘seek first to understand, and then to be understood.’ As an incessant talker at the time, I found it a weird concept, but it was one that resonated with me and I took to heart. Funny perhaps that decades later I find myself working as a psychotherapist, deeply invested in hearing and seeing the other, and leaving my own personal story at the door!
“Every person in our life is a unique, unfolding universe” Diane Poole Heller
I love this quote, it speaks a deep truth. We are each unique, and we continually morph and change, we are in a process of becoming. I like the reference to universe too, it hints at our inter-connection with everything and everyone else. Are we a universe apart, or a unique, ever changing expression of what is universal?
Each person I meet is utterly fascinating. I love the process of discovery, of finding out more, of making connections, of coming to appreciate nuance and complexity. For me there is a deep, timeless joy in the intimacy of being in relationship. Of sitting with truth, with experience, with what is present here and now.
Not only do I enjoy these gifts in my personal life, they are also the stuff of psychotherapy. At its best therapy enables meaningful, heartfelt connection between the participants. We attune, honour and recognise each other in our common humanity, while celebrating all that makes the client unique and utterly themselves.
Intimacy is not always easy. It can provoke anxiety and fear to be truly known and seen, and it can take time. The restorative work of the therapy is enabling this resonance to arise, at first fleetingly, and in time for more sustained periods and with deeper themes.
Coming to know our own selves can be a deep joy, and a great challenge. It is not an easy path, but it is one that I am glad I travel, and that I am honoured to accompany others along.