I had a session recently that was pretty profound and I thought it might be helpful to see how our individual fears and needs can sometimes get in the way of being connected and safe in a relationship. Potentially causing you to abandon a relationship that may have been invaluable.
When I say profound, I mean for me. Though I think it was beneficial for the client as well 😉 .
Thanks to the client’s ability to be honest with me (not an easy thing to do) about what she was experiencing and feeling I was able to recognize that my own feelings of guilt were getting in the way of doing my best work.
One of the issues I continue to struggle with at times is believing that I am responsible for ....well, almost anything and everything. This predominantly shows up in my work. I’ve gotten a lot better over the years, but it was stirred up when I left my practice in Illinois and has reared its fearful little head again.
I was fully aware of this during the decision making process of leaving my practice and did some preemptive moves to keep it in check. But like all core fears, it can show up without recognizing how strong it is.
So, back to the client and the session...
My client sent me an email in between session to “check-in”. She shared an interaction with someone that was triggering; expressing that it left her feeling badly. In my effort to pack as much learning (i.e. benefit) into our last couple of months together, and hopefully make her feel better about it, I focused on trying to get her to recognize that while she took it personally, it may not have been a personal statement about her.
Because I tend to take on too much responsibility I tried not to read into the emails, trying to figure out what she really meant, etc. I had to be able to expect that if she needed or wanted something more she would let me know.
This seems like a good thing.....right? Well, maybe not. I certainly got the sense there may have been a lot lost in translation (email). FYI email is not an effective way to communicate to bring about safety and connection 😉 .
During the session we processed the (mis)communication/misunderstanding in the emails. And there was plenty...on both sides.
For her, she believes she is bad, incapable, a nuisance, and at her core, unworthy. It was easy for her to interpret what I said, and didn’t say, as confirmation of those beliefs. During our session I learned that my (very thought out) response to the first email felt very dismissive to her. And it didn’t get better from there.
Because of my guilt about leaving (abandoning in my mind) I was focused on learning, tools to change, and solutions. Completely missing an opportunity to support and validate. Which is, through her honesty, what I learned she not only wants, but needs.
I also learned a very valuable personal lesson through this experience. This is, in part, why I experienced it as profound....I am much better at what I do when I’m just me, being authentic in the therapeutic relationship and how I provide therapy. Not when I allow fear to dictate what I should be doing or how to do it.
When we allow our fears to drive our behavior some not so great things tend to happen. The most difficult of which tend to be in the context of relationships.
When we are authentic, receiving and giving connection happens more naturally and tends to feel so much better.
What fears tend to get in your way? Which gremlins tend hang out on your shoulder...unworthiness, fear, rejection, and on and on and on?