Why did you become a therapist?

13 comments

Last week, someone I just met asked me, “Why did you become a therapist?”

The words, “I don’t know” flew out of my mouth.

“You don’t know?” he said indignant. But I paused to think. I thought about all the volunteering I had done in high school that led me from wanting a career in architecture to apply to social work school.

But then he asked why I was attracted to doing that?

why did you become a therapist?

Why?

There are so many things we do and decide with little awareness to our purpose and motivation. We take things for granted, but there is so much to unpack beyond them!

Initially, my mind was blank.

Sometimes we have to open our minds to the answers that are there, past “I don’t know.”

I opened to the question: Why was I attracted to helping people? Trying not to grab at an answer but patiently letting it come to me.

Loneliness. I guess I knew what loneliness felt like when I was young, and I thought it was the worst problem in the world. (Loneliness comes with an overwhelming negative voice and sense of being unloved.)  I remember telling my friend at Camp Stella Maris in circa 1990 how I noticed that many, many people were lonely. And how I wanted to make them feel less alone.

So, I guess that’s my answer. I formally committed as a teenager to help people feel less lonely.

My therapeutic relationship

I had a former client who I haven’t spoken to in months text me randomly one day to tell me that she missed and loved me. It was so sweet! I asked her what made her think of me and she said that she does every time she gets a blog post notification, but that day she felt an overwhelming urge to text me to say so.

It is funny because I was just thinking of her the day before!  Her smiling face came to my mind and I was thinking of her kind and generous demeanor.

There is something about the therapeutic relationship. Someone is privy to your innermost thoughts. (You know, even those ones that may not be pretty?) Someone knows you. And this is less isolating.

When someone stops seeing a therapist, the relationship doesn’t end. I don’t plan to stay in people’s heads, but many people tell me I do. (I hope it is in a good way.)

My reflections

What would Jodi say? They ask themselves when they are scared or down about something.

I would say, “Stop judging yourself

“You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now.”

“It’s OK”

“Begin with a beginner’s mind,

“I appreciate you.”

You can do this.”

“I believe in you.”

“Be flexible.”

I don’t mind keeping them company. Having a person attached to those counter thoughts makes all the difference. I’m happy to oblige, (and I’m always looking for more people to include.)

Actually, these aren’t my words that they embolden themselves with when going through a difficult situation. It’s ideas about themselves that we have discovered together. Things that they told me and I just reflected back to them.

But it is that reflection that is so important! We can only see ourselves in relationship. We need that reflection. That’s why loneliness feels so bad. We have no tether, no sense of self. It is hard NOT to feel unworthy. We are floating out there, and all the bad  from our past get major airtime.

 

Silence is violent if it is not filled with love. Louise Gallagher  says in her post We Are Born To Shine

 

I don’t create something that makes people feel better. I just reflect back what I see and hear-acknowledge the hard times, but reflecting back the good they show me. (It is always there.)

So the me in their head is really them.

What voices come to your mind when you are feeling alone, scared or angry? 


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13 Comments

Harleena Singh

Hi Jodi,

I can SO well imagine why people have this question in their minds, and they must be asking you this so often.

While it must be for fighting your loneliness, I think it in a way is a great way of helping people fight their fears, which heals them alongside due to various reasons or things they have suffered earlier. Speaking of myself, I think it’s that self-affirmitive voice that comes from within in my down moments, which uplifts me 🙂

Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

Louise Gallagher

Jodi — And the world is blessed to have your beautiful spirit creating space for people to see that place within where they hear their voice calling them to shine!

Thanks for the mention — I also think it’s because you have a generous nature and want to create sunshine in the world.
Louise Gallagher recently posted..Taking care of myself.My Profile

Robert

If I was a religious person I would say you do it because you were meant to. But as I am not I can’t so to speak.

We can’t always do the job we would love to do, life is not like that, I have done many things over the years, but I can’t say I would regard any of them as my calling.

As I think I have said before people can be lonely in a room full of people, if you can just make one person less lonely then you have done a good job.

Somebody once told me I have the knack of making unhappy and miserable people smile, I am not sure it’s a knack, I just always try and look on the bright side of things.

I remember many years ago being at the funeral of a good friend and we had all got soaked at the graveside. His widow afterwards asked me to say something to cheer her up. I said that her husband would perhaps have been looking at his funeral and us getting wet and would have muttered something along the lines of “That will teach them to be my friends!!!” I did my job, she burst out laughing.
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Kelli Roig

Thanks for another inspiring work! It’s hard to explain why we choose certain roads in life, but I have to believe that there’s a guiding force pulling together circulstances and propeling us to action where we are best needed. You, without a doubt, are on your destined road my friend!

Marie

I can’t agree more Jodi. You found your road and you are helping so many more people that you could only imagine. Every one of your words resonate within my life, my struggles.
Thank you. Keep up the good work.

Beverly Diehl

Kind of funny that this is the FIRST time you’ve been asked, but I think it’s cool you wanted to help people all the way back in your teens.

There’s a lot of unavoidable pain in life, but why not be on the side of helping people cope and learn to feel better? So appreciate your efforts and your blog.
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Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real.

First time reader visiting from the Honest Voices link-up. Great answer to that question, and I love that Marianne Williamson quote. I saw her speak once, and she is so dynamic. I think it is always helpful to stop and remind ourselves why we chose our particular path.
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Kristi Campbell

Hi!
I’m new to your blog (Honest Voices) and am so glad I came. I love “begin with your beginner’s mind.” Perfect.
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Laura Zera

Jodi, you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now. 🙂 But I really do think you found your calling. I’m sure you would have been a great architect, but I’m glad you followed that pull. And I have my own way of conjuring up your words, and that is to listen to your guided meditations, which always make me very happy. When I’m scared, I can hear my friend’s voice telling me that she sees me as fearless.
Laura Zera recently posted..You and Mental Health: Countering the Pathology View of Hearing VoicesMy Profile

Hiten

Hi Jodi,

This was a great post and it got me thinking of why I got into coaching. When I was young my life was seriously hampered through stuttering. It affected my confidence and self-esteem greatly. It was after dealing with my own problems that I was inspired to help others who experienced similar plights.

As for your question, when I get lonely, a voice that comes into my mind is my own voice which says I can never be lonely. There are people everywhere. Sure, they may not know me, but it helps me deal with loneliness.

Thank you.
Hiten recently posted..How to Deal with Self-DoubtMy Profile

Marjory

In some ways Jodi, your work is very architectural. You create a safe container where people can heal their wounds. Blessings, beautiful sister.
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Galen Pearl

I’m not at all surprised that your clients would want to express their appreciation from time to time. I owe a lot to my therapist, and have written to her before to let her know that I’m doing well, thanks in no small part to her. There were days when I thought, like Woody Allen, that I would be in therapy forever. Now that therapy is some years behind me, I can especially see the lasting benefit I gained.

I know that’s not the real focus of this post, but it immediately made me think of Dr. T. I think you must have sensed that you had a gift of healing and that you could help people.
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monicastangledweb

Helping people feel less lonely, Jodi, is a noble cause. And you do it so well. Time and time again your posts have inspired me. I just wrote one that, as I was writing it, reminded me of you, feeling, I think, that you would appreciate it. I recently had an experience that I found humbling and made me reflect about my self-worth and ultimately appreciate what I have. Like you say here, I used the opportunity to reflect, and I think I came out stronger for it. Anyway, I hope you read it and share your thoughts about it.
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