When I sit with both individuals and couples I am often a witness to stories and narratives that describe what “other” people are doing and the impact it has on the person speaking. The benefit of being a witness is that I don’t have any attachment. I can see patterns, habits, and the residual impact from the choices that were made. I also have a further advantage in that I have a broader perspective from the opportunity to sit with different individuals and couples across various situations and life experiences.
I can differentiate between commonly experienced situations and uniquely individual experiences. We all experience life in a unique and individual way, but many of these experiences can be normalized to help ground us and let us know we are not alone. With that said, there are also many uniquely individual experiences that cannot be replicated no matter how close the experience might be to another.
Many individuals express they feel like they are stuck in quick sand and continuously sink deeper and deeper, they tend to focus their attention on others and it makes it worse. As an example, think of the last time you logged on to a popular social website and scrolled through all the posts and updates. The majority of posts and updates illustrate “happy”, “great”, and “fantastic” moments which depending on the mood you are in can send your brain swirling into a tirade because life isn’t like that for you.
I try to offer a first step in a different direction. That suggestion begins with: Let You Be You…
Commonly, with individuals and couples they are focused on what others are doing. The problems that are being experienced are due to the actions of others and/or the perception that other people are better off than the person or couple I am sitting with.
One of the residual experiences that I commonly find is both individuals and couples spend an enormous amount of time externalizing what is troubling them while keeping much of their life experiences to themselves. Leaving many to try and deal with it on their own and eventually being left to wonder if what they experience is normal or strange?
In addition, on many occasions, people have cultivated a toxic belief that they are not good enough, or they can’t do what someone else is doing, or that they have a social, emotional, or cognitive problem and need to be fixed.
I am a strong advocate for each of us to celebrate who we are and embrace the differences. Especially the differences, because that is what makes us special. I offer support to my clients by building a strong foundation in who they are and identifying what matters to them. This starts by fostering self-awareness in all areas of their life. This is not a 5-minute exercise. Rather it is a practice of self-reflection and introspection across various domains of life.
These domains can include personal life planning, personal health, family, religious & spiritual beliefs, recreational aspirations, self-development, professional endeavors, and social connections.
Start with the area that resonates the strongest. If it’s personal life planning, then begin there. If social connections are speaking to you then explore that facet of your life. The process is not a linear start to finish exercise. Allow yourself space to wonder and bounce from domain to domain and be open to identifying the blind-spots that you may not have been aware of.
The objective is to cultivate a keen self-awareness for what matters to you which will eventually lead to an even more powerful ability for being comfortable with who you are, by paying less attention to what others are doing, fostering a belief that you can impact what happens around you, and celebrating You being You!