This work is humbling

Therapy and other forms of personal work are a humbling task.

We may start the work in pain. Propelled forward by desperation or an inner prompting that requires us to change.

We learn and grow.

Then we “know” something. We might read about it. We might be able to articulate our experience in new ways. We feel better. We have “gotten somewhere”.

We might then study and grow further.

For those of us who move to take this work into the professional realm we are then up against the pressure to “be an expert”. And we fall prey to it sometimes — speaking of our knowledge about self-esteem, relationships, grief, etc etc.

And of course we all do know something. We do have experiences.

But life has a way of throwing us on our ass again.

Into a world where everything seems fleeting and nothing seems solid. Where everyone around us is struggling and we are too and there seems to be no lifeline. Where the world is so obviously not getting better.

And this being thrown on our ass — we know this is part of it. We know that losses and shocks and disappointments are just as much part of life as the things we actually want.

But that doesn’t change the sadness. The unsettledness. The fear and the anxiety.

In the midst of uncertainty, our theories and ideas have the potential to keep us afloat. They are life preservers. For to always be “in it” is too too much. We have to explain it.

We talk about relationships all the time, for example. When someone is in relationship pain they often ruminate — looking at the same event from multiple angles, talking endlessly about their hopes, fears, hurts, and anxieties. They ruminate, we ruminate, because we are trying to relieve our intense feelings. We want absolution, security and relief.

When you start to look for this tendency it is everywhere. The desire for security through understanding.

A few times round on this train of loss and the shine comes off the next new theory or idea that comes around.

A few times round on this train and I am much less interested in talking about anything.

And what is left is perhaps less exciting and “clinically relevant” but perhaps more real. A cat — curled up beside me. The fall breeze. A hope, sitting in my heart like a bruise, that the last weeks of the year are filled with good work. Whatever that means.

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