Therapist's Note: We often associate the process of counseling with moving participants toward solid explanations of what they're experiencing and why they're experiencing it. Personally, I tend to take a different approach to my work. Drawing on theories and practices that emphasize the ways we construct meaning, I often find that what best supports clients in making change is providing space for explanations to shift and evolve (and even contradict one another) over time. A change in our explanations can create all kinds of other changes, like petals opening from a flower.
Winter winds creep in.
Dark, damp days stretch into one another:
the difference between dawn and dusk grows difficult to perceive.
Nearly frozen raindrops fall like needles.
All color begins to drain from the natural world.
A bright bloom stretches tall.
Tender, tenacious petals unfurl.
Unexpected beauty blossoms--
startling and soothing to the soul.
The view outside my office window has become increasingly dreary and depressing this past week, but this delightful flower keeps capturing my attention. It's funny, I'm sure she's been gracing me with her presence for quite some time, but it wasn't until the chill set in that I paid her any mind.
I found myself pondering what meanings and motivations she would assign to her surprising existence...
Is she blissfully oblivious to the impending threats as she revels in the present?
Or is she radically defiant, undeterred by worries and expectations?
Does she notice just how excruciatingly exposed she stands?
Or does she feel the wonders of being stretched-wide open?
Does she shudder self-consciously about how out of place she appears?
Or might she take pride in standing out from the crowd?
I imagine if she could speak, she would answer each question with a sigh of recognition and a loud, long "YES". She would resist my efforts to tame her into simplified "this" or "that" explanations. After all, those who are created wild and free know well the joys of embracing the complexities and contradictions of being alive in this world.
Each of us are like that bright bloom as we move through change.
We are tender yet tenacious.
Oblivious yet defiant.
Exposed yet open.
Self-conscious yet proud.
Step back from yourself for a moment. Take a genuinely curious look through the window. Can you see all of that in you in this moment?
When we can gently hold together contradictory aspects of our experience of change, we gift ourselves with both grace and flexibility. Grace to experience self-compassion as we set aside judgments about being too much of "this" or not enough of "that". Flexibility to draw from any of those parts of our experience that serve us well in the present moment.
There's no need to tame yourself.
You are created wild and free.
Wild enough to brighten dreary days.
Free enough to bloom in any weather.
Ah, I can hear the sign of recognition and your long, loud "YES".
Reflection question: Which pair of contradictions listed above most resonates with you? Why might that be?
Here you will find metaphors, images, reflections, and inspiration on the change process. Psychotherapy intersects with creativity, nature, and spirituality on these pages. You can start anywhere you'd like. You'll find a note on my thoughts as a therapist as well as a prompt for your own reflection at the beginning and end of each entry.
I'm a licensed therapist in private practice in Indianapolis who provides counseling to individuals and couples, particularly around issues of anxiety, adjustment, and relationship wellness.