I began working with a new client, Sarah, a few weeks ago. She came in because she was unhappy, and has relationship issues. She hasn’t been able to get over a break up from several years ago, and she’s in a relationship now that lacks the the depth and intimacy she craves.
What struck me about Sarah was how difficult it was to connect with her. She talked fast, and was very wrapped up in own story, getting upset, angry, laughing over and over as she ran over her stories from her past and projected into the future. Occasionally I interjected with some of what I teach that helps people – how when our minds settle down we often connect with a state of mind that brings a sense of well-being, relief from mental turmoil, and a connection to your own wisdom. But Sarah was too wrapped up in her stories to really hear what I was saying. I was aware at the end of the session that we had made little or no connection, and wondered if she would return.
Sarah did come back, and she looked better. She reported having been a bit calmer and happier since she saw me last, but she had no idea why. Guessing, she attributed it to a few things that had gone better that week. She was eying me curiously. ‘I don’t know what you do,’ she said, making contact with me cautiously. ‘I couldn’t’ tell last week. I’m an aggressive person. Maybe you need to be more aggressive with me.’
I assured Sarah that I can be plenty aggressive, or at least assertive enough to get my point across. But I need to make sure my client is interested before I can really start teaching them anything. ‘I’m interested,’ she said. ‘I really need help.’ OK then, I said, and jumped in. I taught her how these principles show people how their experiences are all created through thought, and that we’re either retrieving data from memory (a useful and neutral type of experience), creating unpleasant experiences from being in our personal worlds of data and memory beyond the point where they are useful, or not. The not is when we let our minds settle down and come into the present – when we golf, go to the beach, exercise, etc – whatever place in life you designate as a place to let your mind settle down, is where it happens. Then people have different experiences – they get calm, have a sense of well being, often feel creative and inspired and get in touch with their wisdom, creativity and common sense.
‘I’m all about the personal,’ Sarah observed. That’s true, I agreed. And that was the beginning of the beginning. Sarah and I made contact for the first time, and I could begin teaching her some things that might help her.
Relationships don’t happen in our personal worlds. They happen when our minds dip free of all that noise and clutter. Then we get a sip of the now, the present, the deeper, richer, more real fabric of life. That’s where connection happens, and it happens naturally. As soon as we slip back into the personal, we’re in our own individual movies, which are mildly interesting to other people at times, but take us away from intimacy and connection. For the couples I work with, discovering this one simple truth often makes the difference between have intimacy and connection, or not.
When Sarah left after our second session, I knew that we had made contact. She had learned some things that had already helped her get less interested in the ‘all about me’ part of her mind and more interested in what brings people happiness. I’m looking forward to watching her journey unfold.