Gandhi is said to have said that there are two types of people, those who get on and do what needs to be done, and those who claim the credit for the action. He apparently went on to say that he’d much rather be amongst the former category, whose membership is far less competitive.
I like to think of myself as a ‘do-er’, and I’m not always that good at taking the credit for things I achieve. To date, I have failed to attend two of my graduation ceremonies. At the time, they didn’t feel that important. Looking back, I think they were probably more important than I realised. I could, if I wished, probably collect my qualifications retrospectively, but the moment has gone. I’ve moved on, and into pastures new, and onto new pursuits. My colleagues have done the same, and I have allowed an opportunity to pass me by – a shared experience was missed.
In other respects, I keep much of my work pretty quiet. This was brought to my attention recently, when a colleague remarked that she was unaware of a significant project I have been involved with since the beginning of the year. There is perhaps a distinction between humility and privacy, and one may be more productive than the other. In my world, it helps if people not only know, but understand, what it is that I do, and how it is that I do that. I have a responsibility to share this information, in order that potential clients can find me, and colleagues know where I fit in to the network of helping professionals. It also helps when my friends and family know what it is that I spend my time doing, as this is what makes me ‘tick’, and to understand this is to understand an important part of me.
I have chosen to work in a field where silence is common. Denial is rife. I work with individuals, couples and families who don’t talk, because they feel they can’t talk. Shame pervades their lives, and they risk becoming forgotten, unseen and unheard. I know many professionals who avoid the presenting issues I search out; the outcomes are unfavourable and the work demanding. For me, the reward most certainly is the journey, and I journey alongside those I work with. It’s rich, fascinating, and hugely rewarding. Whilst our journey may take time, patience and determination, I am never short of concrete reminders of my clients’ resilience and resourcefulness and of our ability, as fellow human beings, to work through and resolve the things that have held us back in order to live fruitful lives that may look radically different to our past histories.
I am not, and never will be, my job, but my work and all that it entails are important aspects of my identity and my personality. I bring myself into my work, and I take a great deal from my work that has brought me to be the person I am (becoming) today.
Gandhi is also credited with having said ‘be the change you want to see’, an invitation to all of us to review what it is that we are actually doing to promulgate, expedite and realise transformation on any and every level. Being in therapy takes guts. Attending therapy is brave, but it is only part of the change we wish to make. I acknowledge and honour the courage shown by anyone who is committed to looking at themselves, but with the awareness cultivated in the process comes a responsibility and a choice: what happens outside of the therapy room?
For me, therapy is about far more than close inspection. Its most prized product is integration. Bringing ourselves into true alignment. Becoming whole through the achievement of congruence in our thoughts, words, deeds and feelings. Doing what it is that we most value and respect as beings, and being the people we want to be through doing right actions.
At risk of acknowledging my own redundancy, I am a realist. Sitting and exploring our hopes, dreams and fears with trusted counsel for 50 minutes every week, or several times a week, is admirable but won’t necessarily make the difference. Truly being in therapy, means doing therapy and herein lies the hard work. Because, if nothing changes, nothing changes.