Many times, you can feel yourself being assaulted by memories of the past. I say assaulted because it feels as if you’re being forced to re-experience them completely.
And, in fact, you actually are. You have been transported right back into the event and are thus subject to all the ups and downs of the experience.
Now if it’s a pleasant experience, it’s usually sweet; unless it catapults you into nostalgia or grief at its loss. If it’s an unpleasant or painful experience to begin with, it’s definitely not fun, and often not even useful, to revisit the event in this way.
Your experience of these past events (whether positive or negative) reflects the development of one of two basic life skills you are wise to develop. If you want to continue learning how to live a happier, more mindful and engaging daily life, these skills are essential – for both you and your clients.
The Two Basic Skills Everyone Can Consciously Develop
Being able to go back into the past and re-experience an event is a powerful and useful skill. However, if you don’t realize that you’re using this skill, it can make the past seen more present and more difficult to handle.
The balancing skill is the ability to step out of an event and free yourself from having to experience the emotions, thoughts, and perspectives associated with it.
These two skills are essential to measuring our capacity to be happy human beings.
Can you consciously step into an event and access the thoughts, emotions, and perspectives it carries?
Can you consciously step out of an event and see it from an observer/neutral position thus gaining access to a new perspective on the event?
Once you have developed these skills for yourself, you can more easily recognize their presence, or absence, in your clients. People struggling with a problem often only explore it from one of these two perspectives. Each viewpoint offers valuable information and discovery.
You can assess how your client is viewing the event by listening to their language and watching their body and gestures.
1. Speaking in first person means they are in the event, re-experiencing it. Speaking in 3rd person means they are outside of the event and observing it.
2. When the body and gestures match the dialogue or events being described, they are usually associated (in the memory again) and thus re-experiencing it. When the body and gestures remain relatively still and mismatched with the dialogue or events, the client is usually outside the event and observing.
3. Tip: The observer is always neutral and never critical. Be aware that if the observations are judgmental, the client has now brought in a 3rd element – commonly called the Critic.
When a person is polarized to either end of the continuum, imbalance harnesses and holds in place the perception of the situation as a ‘problem’.
When a person learns how to move in and out of a memory or an on-going event, drama and objectivity begin to find a new balance. And when you learn how to balance your perspective, a solution to the problem will generally arrive on the scene.
Explore your own level of development for these two life skills. The better you are at executing both of these viewpoints, the easier it will be for you to recognize them in your clients and start the process of inviting the ever developing wonder of balance.
May you enjoy your dramas while learning all that you can by stepping aside as well. And may you delight in that wisdom and insight, always awaiting your arrival just on the other side of this play of life.