We can grow in grace and move forward when we take the time to clear up what comes from our past, slamming into our present with rage, anger, sadness, anxiety, pain, or whatever emotion arises when we are offended.
Yesterday was the first Thursday group out of five weeks I facilitated.
The men were super happy I was back. They told me “It’s not the same without you in the group. You engage with us and help us see things from a different perspective and you don’t judge us” and they gave me extra liberties to ask pointed questions and dig a little deeper. One even owned his abusive behaviors from the week before when he defended them with the substitute.
I had another client, which took a long time to move through the assessment interview; it was revealing to me.
I have a calming effect on anxiety-prone individuals.
I found myself guiding, moving in empathy, grounding, and helping them build capacity. It was an awe-inspiring scene where afterward I reflected on that being my most challenging client ever. And I made it. Everything I did, or said, was not programmed rhetoric. It came from inside and was natural. I did not feel pressed, pressured, or pushed to be something I am not.
It dawned on me,
I’m a counselor at heart.
I finally can see the counselor shining through and the educator continuing to grow.
It’s humbling to be real and learn you still have more to grow. I’ve learned I’ve had some hard times and learned to mistrust people. I’ve also become aware of why and when they developed. I learn things from my clients. They are my greatest teachers aside from mistakes I have made. I learn from them when I listen to their story of pain. I listen for the words unspoken and the shift in their demeanor. I look for the eyes, those which shine brightly with an ah-ha moment or the downcast eyes of those, ashamed, guilt-ed, and pained with a burden placed on their shoulders from the youngest of ages, still too scared to talk about the scenes.
The men I do assessments with answer a set of four checklists. It’s challenging to face the inner demons, which when we lay them out there, they scream at us to notice them in all their darkness, shadows flitting about with the light of day illuminating their corners and hiding places. Ouch!
Just such a moment happened when a victim, read the checklist and said, “I see myself in there, I do these things” and “how do I stop doing these things now that I know I was doing them?” Good question. So, I knelt on the floor, in front of the two clients, a couple, and shared, “When you feel like _____ is controlling, it may be his fear coming up. Try a new way to share how you feel” and she then said, “I could say, I feel this is controlling” and the male client, responded, “That can be a clue I am controlling her or starting to snap.” There was a breath of air that came into the room. I said, using my hands as stopping points, so he could follow my thought pattern: “When she says, ‘I feel this is controlling’” it is your cue to take a time out and figure out what you want to say without sounding controlling. He agreed. I took over two hours with this couple.
Before the client left, he came back into my office, and said, “Please pray for me, I am so nervous and stressed.” I gave him a Serenity prayer card, and then gave him a tiny anchor, one I give to clients who seem aimlessly floundering in life. I said, “You might want to put the anchor in your wallet or pocket. Somewhere only you know where it is and it can symbolize your grounding point, something, which holds you steady when anxiety strikes, when fears arise, when you feel out of control” and the client, shook my hand and thanked me. The client made direct eye contact.
Empathy goes a long way, doesn’t it? No judgment, no bias, no critical attitudes, no demeaning statements, just real, transparent faith in the process of change.
Life is not perfect. We can make attempts at perfection, however, it is overrated.
Be your self. Trust the process. Grow in Grace.
The man, anxiety-ridden body, said, “I need empathy. I need a lot of empathy for what I am experiencing. I feel so alone.” The rocking back and forth, with an anxious soul, looked into my eyes with desperation. I saw the pleading, for one soul to see them, in all their pain, and accept them, unconditionally.
Providing a safe place to freely let themselves unwind, to recap life, and to grasp a bit of hope, for example, the anchor does more for the client than a long list of to-do items. Sometimes, just getting out of bed makes a difference.
On a personal plane, one can gain insight from the adversity of the struggles clients present provided they are perceptive. Not comparison; per say. It’s more of a reflection of pain. We may be better able to batter the inner demons and present to the world how “We have it all together. Look how successful we are” and then stumble into our rooms at night, exhausted from the faćade.
Personally, last night, I learned I have a partner who supports me, walks with me in my mistakes, misunderstandings, and malfunctioning trust mechanisms. No, he’s not perfect. He’s human, too. I extend the same support to him, even if at times, fractured emotions win out. I believe, it is the strength of character, which slowly gives us hope in revealing our weaknesses and vulnerabilities so we can walk in peace and grow as a team.
In my work, I want my clients to have the same experience so I help them find their voice, their footing, their hope, and their goals. The beautiful gift of helping them, helps me without any effort on my part. I review, revise, and rewind my mind and move forward, specks and logs in my soul or not.
Grace. Peace. Two words we forget to apply to ourselves when under duress. When we corral ourselves into a corner, we come out fighting when help is presented. A normal defensive strategy the mind places in so we are safe. Reaching outside of the defensive stance, we embrace the gift of communication, opening up in a safe space, and we can move forward.
Be your self. Trust the process. Grow in Grace.
~Just a thought by Pamela
Previously published on Medium.com.
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