I want to extend an invitation to you if you have been thinking about having therapy and haven’t taken any steps yet to find a therapist. I invite you to come and talk with me. You can come to my office, or we can go for a walk. I offer a free half-hour consultations for individual clients so that you can come and meet me and see if I’m the right therapist for you.
Today is Sunday, and like many others I expect, I am returning to work tomorrow. I’ve had a good break, and while I haven’t been working with clients, I’ve been doing some writing and catching up with admin tasks here and there. Today I have attempted to get some more writing done and instead I’ve distracted myself quite a lot by tidying my desk and sorting out folders. In one of those folders, I came across this lovely piece of writing from a great workshop I attended in 2016. It stopped me in my tracks, and I want to share it with you here.
THE INVITATION by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (1999).
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrows if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pains.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it is not pretty, every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
I’m thinking about the word autonomy as I read this again. Eric Berne (the father of Transactional Analysis) describes autonomy as developing our capacity for awareness, spontaneity and intimacy. It is at the heart of Transactional Analysis philosophy and practice. I’m wondering if this is what this piece of writing is about. Psychotherapy, counselling, therapy, whatever you wish to call it can help us develop our autonomy.
Let’s break autonomy down into those three parts: awareness, spontaneity and intimacy.
Awareness is our ability to live in the present moment, perceiving it without interruption. Berne was basically writing about mindfulness in the 1960s: “Awareness requires living in the here and now, and not in the elsewhere, the past or the future.”
Spontaneity is our ability to put aside familiar well-exercised options and choose according to what seems to fit the moment. Learning to say yes to what we want and no to what we don’t want carries risk and a good deal of flexibility of thinking.
Intimacy involves exposing our vulnerability to others: showing how we really think, feel and behave without the need to mask ourselves in what we imagine the other person wants or can cope with. Can we also be prepared to meet the other person and listen to them unimpeded by our own wants, needs and projections?