Being Human = Life + Acceptance + Meaning
I continue to struggle with actually reading a book and so recently I got into the audiobook scene. I began with two health books followed by, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed.
This book was referred to me by a client. As you may gather from the title, it is about a therapist, her therapist, and her clients. Mind-blowingly good! I do not choose serious books and this one was just that but the levels I could relate to kept me coming back for more.
Clients DO leave us if they detect a human side. Lori Gottlieb, the author, talks frequently about how somehow therapists aren’t supposed to struggle. This makes me laugh so much. Just because you teach health everyday, you aren’t expected to struggle at all, as if because one is a doctor s/he does not engage in eating ice cream or fried foods. Unless maybe the person airs on the side of perfectionism or has health issues that force these choices.
Being human is so much more than shouting from a mountaintop. It’s about coming down and living with the people below which means having your own struggles and finding your way through them. I think living in this awareness keeps therapists in check. We are not all-knowing examples of perfect living. Hopefully whoever you work with is very aware of their own humanity and guiding individuals with this ever-present awareness.
Gottlieb also analogizes how we all think we are going on a trip to Italy and we expect such perfection. However, most of us get off the plane and we are in Holland. Yes Holland. Maybe you never even wanted to go to Holland but here you are and here you must stay. We think we can fight our way to Italy.She proposes acceptance of where we are. We must actually get off of the plane and learn to be happy in this land where we find ourselves. This metaphor resonated with me and my clients. A lot of people’s goals are to change this person, get rid of my anxiety, or obsessive thoughts, or compulsive actions.
Getting better is accepting what IS and finding a way through it. With acceptance and changing what we can, like our reactions to ours emotions, communicating needs, and settling into all things unchangeable. The goal is to stop being consumed by what we cannot change.
Meaningfulness anchors us through life change
Gottlieb also discusses experiencing death of her clients, her own mystery illness, and the death of her parents. How we respond to all inevitability in our lives and how we adjust and accept these things greatly impacts our choices and our futures.
She proposes meaningfulness over happiness. I must say I agree. I am so grateful to have a meaningful, purpose-driven life. It leaves me full but it does not mean I do not have my own struggles. I struggle like every other human. Family members have died, I have had bad breakups, friendships that didn’t work out, and illness. What I have learned through my work with others is that we are all on this human journey together. Sometimes things aren’t fair, sometimes things suck, and sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. Acceptance and meaning can provide an anchor through the good and bad times.
I hope you read this book and find the wisdom, humor, and meaning I found.