Change begins with respect. Respect for your own boundaries. Respect for other people’s boundaries.

I find it hard to keep that in mind. Sometimes I’m so eager to tell my story, fill reality with my point-of-viewishness, that I forget to respect people’s space.

I used to mistake a question for an invitation to fill the gap, to start ‘flowing’.The result was always the same. I felt exhausted and unsatisfied. It always seemed like ‘people didn’t get it’. On top of that I was tired. I ‘pushed’ the whole time and didn’t give people the chance to give something back.

Over the last few years I came to realize what went wrong. Questions were often invitations from people who wanted your attention while they explored a thought, a feeling, an experience. Sometimes they just asked for a hint to get them going. Sometimes they asked nothing at all. They just connected, invited me to pay attention.

Again, easier said than done.

Yesterday, it happened again. It was in class. I’ve started a 4 year training to become a solution-focussed-therapist. One of my classmates showed a mindfulness cd to me and another colleague. She showed it because … well I don’t know, because I used this as an occasion to tell her how important mindful breathing can be while doing sessions with a client. It helps you to be aware and allows you to pick up much more information. End of a never-ever-started-conversation.

What happened was that I actually forced myself out of the conversation instead of being heard. The conversation went on, but without me.

Going back to “change” you could say that the change (conversation / process) took place elsewhere where it was allowed to happen.

This was a great lesson and a great reminder for the rest of my training.

In a sense this example is a two-way invitation. It made me wonder where my urge to talk is coming from. What was my drive? What, deep down, makes this happen?

My guess? Control. I like being in control. Pushing myself out of the conversation (clearing my space) is one way of being in control. Another way would be to allow the conversation or any other change to happen and explore how it happens and how it affects me, look forward to where it is taking me. That would be a whole other level of control.

Looking at it from this point of view I’m actually glad this happened since situations like these challenge / invite me to explore new ways to satisfy my need for control, ways which may be more satisfying both for me and the people around me.

It’s the beginning of a more respectful way to look at myself and at others.

One of the things I’ve learned during my first lessons was this: If you can’t find anything worth caring for in a client, it’s hard – maybe even impossible – to treat them.

I guess this holds as much true for myself.

Do you recognize this?

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