I once saw this meme about how a client found out his therapist had their own therapist. After disclosing and stumping each therapists’ therapist, he “advanced to the next level” until he met the “boss therapist.”
I always got a good laugh out of it. Interestingly, there is some truth behind it. As both a therapist and a client, I find myself in a peculiar position. I feel like I am playing a version of “Whisper Down The Lane.” (Some of you might know the game as “Telephone Line.”)
I have been in therapy consistently on either a weekly or fortnightly basis for the last eight years. I gained a lot of insight in that time. If it feels appropriate, I self-disclose this insight to my clients when we have a shared, relatable experience. In that moment, it feels like I am engaging in a weird sort of oral history. I sit there sharing my wisdom with the “next generation” for them to interpret and continue sharing it with others as they will.
These moments also serve as reminders. Just when I think I have no clue what to do… BAM! Reminder! Right across the face!
It keeps the information fresh, especially since I am teaching it to someone else. The lessons remain intact in this way. Although I described it as a slap, these reality checks serve as a system of checks and balances in my ever chaotic life. Coincidentally, they always seems to come up at the right time.
I’ll provide one quick example. I’ve been going through some major life transitions (see past posts; I am too lazy to reiterate them here.). These changes created a great deal of stress. With the stress came a desire to control the changes the best I could. Logically, I knew that I had little to no control over external factors. According to my anxiety though, I could manipulate my situation and had full control. We just love lying to ourselves during times of stress.
This week though a common theme arose between my clients. Nearly all of them suffered from this same desire. They wanted things to change in their favor, or they yearned for immediate gratification. On the contrary, life had other plans, and my clients struggled to accept that it was out of their control. I reiterated on at least five occasions, “Acceptance does not mean approval.” AKA you don’t have to like what life throws at you, but you need to see the reality of what it is. It is one of my favorite sayings and hard-learned lessons. I enjoy sharing this quote with my clients, and they often get something from it. In this case, I too got something out of it. Reality smacked me like the little bitch that I am and reminded me of my place.
You know what though? That’s okay. I just needed the reminder.
The Caring Counselor