In my work as a counselor, I have the opportunity to connect with other humans in an authentic, genuine way. In reality, I can always choose to be genuine with others. But, it is easier for me to speak frankly to a client about how their behavior impacts me or about the feelings I have towards them than it is for me to say these things to people dear to me. Megan the friend, Megan the daughter/sister, and Megan the co-worker all struggle to openly share feelings, especially feelings like disappointment, frustration, anger, or resentment. Yet, what I’ve learned from speaking frankly is that sometimes the truth is the only way to bridge the gap between two humans. Talking around an issue, avoiding the truth, or running from painful topics, just leads to more emotional distance.
This week, I had several moments when my ability to speak the truth about my feelings regarding the therapeutic work or rapport created a bridge between me and my clients. In one particular instance, I shared my genuine, positive regard for a client and was amazed and honored to watch that person shed healing tears that had been restrained for a long time. In another instance, as I gently confronted a client’s inaction and “stuckness”, I observed in her a flash of anger and burst of energy that led to a great discussion about the “pros” of remaining inert. In both cases, a bridge was built between myself and the client…evidence of the power of genuine connection.
Do you find it hard to express yourself authentically? Do you fear what others might think if you aren’t happy all the time? Are you scared that people will find out that you are not “enough”? It may be helpful to keep this in mind: you cannot go wrong when connecting with others in an authentic way, in a way that strips away conventions and norms and simply starts with the true feelings of the heart and objective observations. Start with, “I feel…” and share some objective facts. (For example, “I feel concerned about your increase in depressive symptoms. I notice you lean on me a lot. And I feel sad that I don’t have the energy to offer you more support. I wonder how I can support you without doing the work for you.”)
There is immense power in genuine connection. Bridges can be built. Healing and transformation can take place. How can you build connections with others in the coming days?
Peace, joy, and health,