Acceptance vs Letting Go

Maybe it is just me, but I have never known how to react whenever someone has told me to "let it go." This was especially true during those years when my life was filled with challenges. I was having lunch with a dear friend this week and the phrase came up in passing.  It is a popular saying in our society and I think people use it offhandedly. It is one of those phrases that I have difficulty with and I have been reflecting about why this may be so. It may depend on the way the phrase is used but in my career as a counsellor I have often heard family members and friends tell my struggling clients to "just let it go" as a form of advice about what they need to do to. People use these words to try and help others get back to themselves, to heal and to move away from problems and wounds in a healthy way. But...what if sometimes people can't "just let go?" What if the pain of the loss or the trauma, the depth of grief, the fear or the terror they experienced has shaken the person to the core of their being. What if the event or state has indelibly changed a space within the person that is so central to identity that they do not know who they are anymore. What if there is no "getting back to?" What if the needs of struggling people is for a different kind of phrase? Perhaps they may need loved ones to offer a question like: "What is it you need that will help you accept this?" Perhaps the need is also for time, compassion, support and reflection and that these gifts allow for a gradual state of acceptance that nothing will ever be the same again. For many people, moving towards a new normal is the only healthy option.

Change can insist itself on our lives and force us to learn its new ways and rules. This can take time. How do you "let go" of the grief of having lost a loved one? How does one get on with living when a happening or event has irrevocably altered life forever? Who can say when there has been enough time spent adjusting? How can another person know when it is time? When we tell people to let their pain and difficulties go, we undermine the seriousness of the situation for the person who is struggling. It is a message that indicates that there may have already been too much time spent with the pain or that the degree of the affliction is somehow incorrectly weighted or inappropriate. Who are we to suggest this to another person?

In my experience, the process of acceptance can help a person move toward a state where having a less intractable position is possible. This is useful when a person suffers. Movement can take time and often the 'bones' need to be laid out in the open where they are aired instead of festering, hidden in the dark. Of course there are techniques like EMDR that help people make sense of being stuck in a loop of despair that seemingly never ends. This modality is quick and takes the client behind the curtain of the conscious thought rapidly and with great effect.

I find that many clients have never truly been listened to, by anyone...in their entire lives! Witnessing the experience of another and allowing their telling to occur is also powerful. When the therapeutic alliance is strong and the therapist is patient enough  to put aside agendas that push toward results and instead can accompany a suffering human being on a journey of healing, acceptance and change can happen. This is one of the gifts of therapy, in my opinion...

Paradigm Shifts

Have you ever had one of those moments in life...you know, the moment when everything you thought and believed on a subject suddenly seems incomprehensible? It is a moment of liberation wherein one realizes that the walls that set the boundaries in thoughts, never actually existed in reality. In Narrative Therapy this phenomenon is referred to a problem saturated thinking and the solution is to gain an arial view. This requires moving away from the face to face, immovable and confining spaces within thoughts, and beliefs as well as within inter and intrapersonal situations and seeing a new view, hopefully a better, bigger and more expansive view...maybe even a breathtaking view!  It is an amazing moment to be able to see the small corner of the forest that once was the whole game and realize just how small it was. It is a moment of clarity that brings empathy for the former self who--likely through no personal failing--could just not see how big and beautiful the world is.

Yes sometimes climbing the mountain is hard folks...but it is worth the challenge :)

New Day Begins

Dawn, the new day arriving to offer what blessings and opportunities to learn that it will. The promise fulfilled…another day on Earth. What a glorious privilege each day is!  I have always felt honoured to be named after this time time of day.  It is a peaceful time when the nocturnal are settling in for the day of sleep and those day lovers are in the final dramatic moments of dream, preparing to awaken.  What will this day bring for you? What will it bring for me? What will I choose to give this day? Will I finally lay the bones of the past out into the fresh air to be washed by rain or bleached clean by the sun? Maybe I will sing songs of gratitude and hope? Will I stay in the dark and hide from life itself and my true self? Will I choose some partial solution betwixt and between the extremes? Today I choose to shine and let life flow through me like the brilliant and illuminating force it is. Today I have decided to allow the gifts of life to visit me, to change, and transform me as they will. Today I will say yes… 

What is the soul?

Nothing like a very heavy question before bed... The truth is I do not know for sure what the soul is, but I have some ideas. I believe the soul is the essential part of ourselves that moves through life with us. It is a kind of rock in our centre--an indelible, certainty that defines who we really are once all the window dressing and incidentals are stripped away. It is the real self, unvarnished and true, honest and unadorned. It is the part of ourselves that knows who we are and what is necessary, true and valuable for each of us. It holds our longings to encourage us to fulfill our true nature. It causes us guilt and shame when we stray too far from our essential nature. It whispers in our ears and scratches at our necks...listen please...let me show you the way. We feel despair when we do not listen; hopelessness when we lose faith in our ability to manifest the calling of this persistent and insistent voice from within. When we do follow the call...life is amazing...because we have trusted in the incorporeal, unseen and omnipresent spirit that guides our life...

PLAY

This is Sugar Plum, my canine friend. I love dogs! They have a lot to teach us humans about living...really living. I think this photo says it all. She is letting herself go with complete abandon into the pleasure of the moment. No hesitation at all and no regrets. I love dogs ability to be and all animal's way of total acceptance of their own nature. They know who they are and what they like and they do those things. They also know what they are adverse to and they avoid those things. Simple right? For dogs it is and as I said, I have learned much from these animals. Who doesn't want to roll around in the snow?

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