Monday, June 20, 2011

From the Therapist's Chair: Seeing Extraordinary Bravery

Last October, Ashley of Nourishing the Soul kicked off an empowering blog series – Self Discovery Word by Word (SDWW) . The series was created to encourage the blogging community to focus on one word a month in an effort to engage in self-discovery and self-reflection.  You may remember my first foray into SDWW from my post on change in April.  This month, Dr. Dana Udall-Weiner of The Body and the Brood is hosting the Word by Word series, and she has chosen the word "Bravery" as the focus of June's posts.   After reading a few of the posts already in the series (like this one from Mara of Medicinal Marzipan, or this one from Kendra of Voice in Recovery), I knew exactly the post I wanted to write for the idea of "bravery."  And this one is dedicated to my clients.
As a psychologist, I am privileged to sit, for an hour or so at a time, with the bravest people I know.   My clients are brave for so many reasons.

My clients are brave because they have faced intense, heart-rending pain--and they did not give up.

My clients are brave because they started life without much support or teaching--and they kept trying.

My clients are brave because they had all kinds of support--and they recognized when they were overwhelmed, and were proactive about getting support.

My clients are brave because they are convinced that no one cares about them--and they keep trying to learn new thoughts.

My clients are brave because depression makes daily life feel incredibly hard--and they keep showing up.

My clients are brave because it is overwhelming to admit that your physical illness has an emotional cost--and they tell their stories anyway.

My clients are brave because being part of a marginalized group is draining--and they continue to achieve.

My clients are brave because it is humbling to pick up the phone and admit to a stranger that your life is out of control--and they did it anyway.

My clients are brave because sometimes when your heart is broken, and your strength is tapped, giving up feels easier--and they are here and working.

My clients are brave because maintaining the status quo feels easier, even when the status quo is broken--and they are choosing to seek change.

I have had me ask how I can "just sit there and hear sad things all day."  What the folks who ask that question don't know is that I'm not just hearing sad things.  Of course we deal with the sad things--I've covered in other posts that we all need a safe space for our pain.

But what I am doing all day is experiencing the privilege of caring for and working with the bravest people I know.  The moment of recognizing that you can take responsibility for your own experience and begin to create change, even in the midst of pain--that's pure bravery.  My clients exhibit bravery all the time--even when they don't know it.  And as a psychologist, I get to stand witness to their courage and participate in their journey.  I'm grateful for that--all the time.