Gifts and Resources

Why do some people get better when others don’t?  What is the role of one’s attitude in healing?  From my experience as a psychotherapist, it is clear that our emotional disposition plays a very important role in how we fare in the face of emotional and physical difficulties.  So many clients I see in therapy have simply lost touch with their inner gifts and resources and as a result, feel helpless to make the changes they want in their lives.  But our inner resources are part and parcel of who we are as human beings and are essential to a positive attitude and our capacity to make changes in our life.

All too often, therapists fail to adequately help clients explore their inner resources in the service of their own healing, forgetting that clients are active participants in their own healing and transformation.

A client I saw some time ago came in for her first appointment expecting that I would simply tell her what to do in order to reduce her anxiety.  When instead, I asked about the gifts and abilities she brought with her to help reduce her anxieties, she stated that she didn’t have any.  She said that her previous therapist simply told her “what to do” and continually directed her.  Only after I asked why she left, did she acknowledge that after a number of years she felt that she had become “too dependent” on her therapist.

When we are facing a problem situation in our lives, we feel overwhelmed and stressed by the feelings that go with them.  Often these feelings are based on unresolved issues from our past.  In times of change and transition, we can feel flooded by these emotions which can block us from our innate resources.  They are still there but they seem unavailable. In the practice of Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy, each client plays an important role in their own well–being and we begin by exploring and recovering these innate skills.

For example, a mother with two children was overwhelmed by feelings of panic as she began divorce proceedings to end an abusive marriage.  She was angry with herself because her anxiety was preventing her from “moving forward”.  When I asked her about the age of her fear, she said it felt “about twelve years old” coincidentally, the same age she was when her parents divorced.  Although the fear about her divorce was real and normal, the old feelings from her past resurrected, and intensified her panic now.  I then asked how she would help that internal twelve year old panic if it was one of her children and she said, “Well, I would do what I already do for my kids; I would reassure them that I am here for them and am not leaving.  I would tell them that whatever happens and whatever they are feeling is ok.  We will handle it together”.  This mother had the internal resources to face her panic and through this brief exercise, found that she already had what she needed.  She had recovered her resources of compassion and courage in the face of her difficulty.


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