Peer Support: I will fortify you, yes, I will help you, I will really hold on to you with my right hand of righteousness. Isaiah 41: 10
As he often does, he thought he was listening to the person in front of him, but his attention was miles away wrestling with his own thoughts. Then, a peer came with a question, and together they found a way back home. Nothing changed, but everything looks different now. This is what happened:
The well-dressed man sat across my desk in silence. After a while I asked: “what is on your mind?”
He cleared his throat, looked around the room and smiled, then he uncrossed his legs, and said:
“I cannot say that my father and I understood each other, or that we got along very well. My father did the best he could; considering that he was 63 years old; when I was 17. I like to think that he showed me love and approval the best way he could. He always wore a dark suit, a matching fedora hat, a long sleeved white shirt, and a dark tie. My mother says he was a proud man, not wealthy, or very well educated but a very good husband, and a loving father. I had an older sister, but she passed away before I was born.” Silence!
“My father read a lot, he was always quoting someone, and he had many sayings. I still remember his favorite: ‘Among humans; your word is the most valuable thing that you own. Do the best you can, and always do; what you said you were going to do.” he paused. “There are days that I miss him so much, I wish I could to talk to my dad one more time,” he said, and then he looked out the window.
Then, he went on: “When I was young, I didn’t know about filial love. I respected my father, but more than anything else; I feared disappointing him. I never called him Dad, it never came out that way. Now, 49 years later; as a licensed professional; I hear young and older adults dealing with the same issue. Struggling with worry, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideations, they live sad lives. Most of them are looking for attention, or some kind of external approval to feel OK.” He stopped, looked at me for a while, and took a deep breath. He shook his head, and sat in silence for a while.
After a couple of minutes, I asked: How can I be of help, today?
He looked up and said, “I referred someone to you, and she seems to have gotten more relaxed, and there is something different about her, but I don’t know what. I’m curious about how that happened, what triggered that change. And, I also want to talk about this discomfort that never goes away. This nagging sensation that I am missing something, or that somehow; I am incomplete no matter how much I have, or how well I do in my profession.”
“How is that a problem for you?” I asked.
“It is exhausting! I work helping people to cope with insecurity symptoms: stress, worry, anxiety, fear and self-doubt. But, when they share their problems with me; that is exactly how I live every day. Or at least most of the time.”
“How do you feel talking about this; now?” I asked
“I feel powerless, a combination of anger and shame.” He said.
After a long pause, I asked: “Where do you think those feelings are coming from?
“I never stop to think about it.” He said.
The Invisible Creative Power of Thought
“Have you considered the role that Thought (our capacity to think) plays in how we experience life?
Or, how about the fact; that even though we are in the same room; we live in unique, separate realities?” I asked
He waved his hand; in a dismissive way. “We may need to talk about that later on.” He said.
“Ok, I’ll make a note, so we follow up.” I confirmed.
“Right now: what are you thinking? and what are you feeling?” Where do you think those feelings are coming from? That is a very important point to understand and remember, because that is what promotes mental health, or as you call it: that is what promotes change in our clients.
His eyes moved from left to right, and back to left as if looking for an answer. “I’m not very effective changing my clients, because there is something that I don’t know, or there is something that I haven’t seen yet. That is the reason for that less-than others; annoying, nagging sensation.” He explained
I spoke slower than normal and said:
“Notice how fast your mental activity is going on right now, and how you are trying to solve problems at that speed. Can anyone solve problems as fast as the mind generates them? Also, see how fast your intellect and imagination go on and on; creating different scenarios where you never win. In that agitated, insecure mental state your IQ is low, very low. When we are in that state of mind, we tend to focus our attention on survival mode: “Danger, my safety is compromised, there is something wrong with me, or something is not OK here.”
He looked at me and nodded.
“And, in that agitated, insecure state of mind; it is also difficult to be present with a client. The capacity to focus our attention is our super-power, and attention is limited. All humans want to feel seen, heard, understood and taken seriously. Deeply listening is one way to give that gift to our clients.
He shook his head in agreement.
“Are you open to trying something right now?” I asked
“Sure” he said.
Ponder -Do not Answer
-Before we start, consider this idea: Whatever Thought is crossing our mind at any given moment, that thought; impacts or dictates how we perceive, or experience whatever happens at that moment. – Can you please paraphrase that; so I know that we are on the same page?
He stated: “Whatever I’m thinking at the moment, affects how I see the presenting problem, and it also affects my relationship with the client.”
“Good, thank you!” I said
A way back to Now! Find your own way!
This is the ‘Locating Exercise’ it will take 90 seconds, (I learned this in a writing class) ): You can close your eyes, or keep them open.
Take a couple of deep breaths, please make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale.
Keep breathing. Relax as much as you can, and mentally ask yourself:
1- Where am I? wait, take your time – Who is with me? Take your time, observe what is happening to your system.
2- What am I thinking? notice what ideas or mental images are crossing your mind.
3- What am I feeling? Take your time, scan your body. Keep breathing … where in your body is the physical sensation? Relax, take another breath.
4- Now, open your eyes, soften your gaze, look around the room, What colors do you see? Take your time, take the room’s colors in.
5- Describe an object that catches your attention.
“Now, look in my direction, and let me know The feeling you are experiencing; right now.” I said
He opened his eyes, looked at the clock on the wall, and said: “I’m feeling kind of strange, but … also calm, curious, and present.”
What If… questions
“OK, I will ask two questions, don’t answer out loud, think about the possibilities.”
“What if this feeling calm, curious, and present is your natural (default) feeling, and that feeling is always available to you?
What if this Ok-ness is your default setting, but from time to time it gets covered, and/or obscured under a veil of mental traffic?”
He smiled, and shook his head in disbelief.
I continued: “In our conversations with the clients, there is always a version of the “What if” questions – Let’s do it now.”
–What if you already are OK, lovable, capable, and enough to help your clients?
–What if you are adequate, and complete as you are now … but your attention is focused on insecure thinking? Your body might be in front of the client, but your attention has left the room.
“So, this is it?” Are we talking about Positive thinking? He asked.
No, we are not talking about positive thinking, nor are we talking about trying to change our thoughts, far from it. What we are talking about, and experiencing is awareness of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought.
Awareness of the formless creative power of Thought, awareness of where our feelings come from, and awareness that our super power is our attention, and that can decide where our attention goes: that is the essence of what I am sharing with you today.
Bottom line, awareness that Thought, plus, our attention create temporary virtual realities that keep changing, unless we spin the story. Yes, we can innocently keep unwanted stories alive; by focusing our attention on them. Does this make sense?
“Where did you learn about these ideas?” He asked
The Three (3) Principles by Sydney Banks
Well, there are the three (3) Principles. Three basic truths that are the foundation of all psychological experience as described by Sydney Banks. You will find all kinds resources at the site: 3PGC.ORG
These three principles are Mind, Consciousness, and Thought. Three spiritual gifts all humans possess and use to navigate our human experience.
Mind: the intelligent energy of all things; formed or formless.
Consciousness: that which allows us to be aware of ourselves, aware of other creations, and aware that we are aware.
Thought: the creative energy that allows us to think and entertain any idea, and to experience the full range of our thinking capacity; including knowledge, memories, imagination, intellect, personality, and beliefs, or any other mental processes.
In this session, (he looked up) we experienced the creative power of Thought in action. We experienced how Thought appears as urgent and important, how it appears to be a permanent truth, and that it changes within seconds.
You experienced that as we focus our attention on what is crossing our mind at the moment; Thought creates a virtual reality. You also noticed that as soon as you realized that Thought created that virtual reality; it changed, and a new thought or story took it’s place.
Thus, all we have to realize, or understand, is that Thought constantly generates temporary mental illusions, that appear as permanent truths, but they are not.
Remember: the creative power of Thought; plus, our attention; create the illusion that catches our eye. It can create any illusion, positive or negative.
When we see the changing nature of the creative power of Thought, we wake-up from the illusory dream, or nightmare we are living in.
This locating exercise is one way to return to center, to return to the present moment. It is one way to wake-up from the illusion-nightmare titled: “I’m not OK, or there is something wrong with me.”
In other words, taking into account the fact that we THINK, is a way to see beyond the mental veil of thought, and return to presence. When we operate from a peaceful confident state of mind, everything looks different. From that state of mind there are not damaged, or broken people that need fixing.
When you are feeling calm, curious and present; your clients will look different, and their problems will appear as daily obstacles to be handled as they appear, nothing more than that.
From that place; our life experience is different. Even if nothing has changed, we are looking at life from a different point of view. Our point of view changes because now we are starting to understand, and to take into account the creative power of Thought.
What Worked well? and What needs work?
“How was your experience today? How may this conversation impact the way you see your clients, and their concerns? I asked.
He got up and stretched his legs. Getting ready to leave, he adjusted his tie and said: “There is a lot to digest here, you shared a lot today, thank you. I didn’t expect so much generosity. The locating exercise, getting me out of my head, and returning to the room with the client; is a game changer. My confidence returned, and I remembered that I am a very good therapist. That is, when my attention is with the client, and not lost in Thought.” He concluded.
In conclusion I said: “Good, as previously agreed, I will document our meeting and send you the notes for your records, or for you to formulate any questions. I will edit any personal details, and show the work in a blog to assist others, and to encourage them to show their work. This way, you and I together, will continue to promote mental health by sharing what we know; in any which way possible.”
J Enrique Roman: – Promoting mental health, self-acceptance, and satisfying relationships, by understanding the creative power of THOUGHT!
Want to read more? Click here
OTHER RESOURCES YOU MAY FIND USEFUL: Some books to read twice, and many more times.
The Space Within (Find your back Home)
The Missing Link (Thought is the missing link between the physical and the spiritual realms)
Invisible Power (Everyone’s Hidden Inner Capacity)
Somebody Should Have Told Us (Simple Truth for Living Well in Simple Terms)
Want to learn more in Spanish? 3PESP.org
Azul Leguizamon Coaching in English and Spanish click here