Self-discovery is central to attaining happiness and emotional self-reliance.
I’ve always felt unusual compared to most others. I’m typically aware of my inner growth as it’s occurring, as opposed to only being able to recognize and acknowledge it retrospectively. I’ve always regarded this as a bonus.
Along these lines, I used to think the most exciting and compelling aspects of getting to know someone, is the discovery process. During this start-up period, we get to learn about their likes and dislikes, and how they’re similar to and different from us (unless you’ve met a Borderline, because a key part of their seduction routine is making you think they have all the same tastes, desires and values You do!).
Finding all the bright, shiny (or tarnished) aspects of a person is as deliciously intriguing as digging up a long-buried treasure that seems to magically convert any thoughts about the future, into “happily ever-after” fantasies.
Across the course of my healing career, my experience of many clients is, they wanna share every detail of their life they think will help me understand them enough to help ‘em recover from their pain. It doesn’t. In fact, it wastes precious session time and client resources.
When a client is engaged in healing work (which is light-years more effective and efficient than psychotherapy), their verbal accounts deter their capacity to heal and emotionally develop. The reason for this is, emotional pain is not stored in a client’s head. It is retained and memorialized by every cell in their body.
Grief, sorrow and depression are bodily sensations. We’re accustomed to having our mind try to make sense of these feelings since we learned vocabulary and could talk to ourselves about ‘em from the age of about two~ but emotional pain is not experienced in our head. It’s in our body’s cellular structure. If you’ve grieved the loss of a beloved animal or person, you can FEEL a hole in your heart that’s such a deep, agonizing rupture, you start to question if you’ll survive it.
But pardon me, I’ve digressed~ so, back to topic: I’ve come to believe that what we love most about meeting someone new, is we get to talk about ourselves. Doesn’t it feel marvelous to apprise another who seems fascinated and views us with eyes that convey they’re intrigued, of who we know ourselves to be? Isn’t it richly satisfying to help them see inside us, and acquaint them with our beliefs, values, tastes, political orientations, talents and abilities? Of course it does!
Don’t we get to fall just a little in love with ourself, under the adoring gaze of an attractive other?? Sure we do~ this is the definition of infatuation, which far too many mistake for “love.” And isn’t this feeling really about how another person helps us feel about US?
Almost all humans love talking about themselves. Who would wanna pass-up this opportunity? I believe it’s this very aspect that makes the process of psychotherapy feel inviting and satisfying. I mean, here’s someone who seems to want to know us deeply~ and apparently never tires of hearing all about what we’re thinking, feeling and doing! Isn’t it wonderful, feeling like we’re THAT important and special to someone~ even though we pay ‘em to listen, and our self-revelations might continue to span decades?
In the early days of my practice as an MFT intern, a couple of clients entered my office, sat down and immediately proceeded to regurgitate every unsolicited chronological detail of their life, up to present. I’d try several times to interrupt, as their barrage of historical detail was never useful for the type of work I was doing, but they babbled on and on, just the same. These were client monologues (a byproduct of narcissism)~ not dialogues. Apparently, they merely sought an audience for their autobiography! It’s important to note, these folks never returned for another session. A blessing in disguise, no doubt.
I’ve had to remind many people about the differences between psychotherapy and recovery work. Nobody can get well, if they’re emotionally underdeveloped. Healing work is Feeling work, which teaches the client how to reconnect with and tolerate long-discarded feelings, so that solid emotional development can occur. Self-worth building tools are adjunctive to healing work, because if ya can’t stop someone from beating-up on themselves 24/7, you can’t be successful in getting them well.
Old habits die hard. The psychotherapy model of “treatment” is, the patient or client goes about their week, engages in self-defeating behaviors, and then recounts it all to their therapist, as if he or she is their Confessor. If a client can’t shift out of this paradigm, there is no hope for them making tangible, lasting change.
MY method, has involved having clients call me the moment they noticed they were feeling bad (empty, flat, anxious, bored, sad, depressed) and letting me help them shrink those feelings in 2 - 3 minutes with self-soothing tools. So, rather than going into their head to spend endless hours applying meaning and reasons to their pain, and analyzing whether they had the right to feel it before acting-out self-destructively, we’d quickly lighten their discomfort. Needless to say, this method was extraordinarily effective in mitigating various addictions.