Monthly Archives: July 2016

I Don’t Have Answers

As a therapist I work with people to help them better understand themselves while also trying to make sense of the larger world we live in. We can focus on the individual and decipher out the ways they communicate to others or the patterns they continually, often unconsciously, recreate. Hopefully my clients learn more about who they are and sometimes learn more about the people surrounding them. I’m not the expert per se and I don’t pretend to know what’s best for others. Simply put, I am not anybody else.  I have not lived my client’s lives or their experiences. I have only lived my own. However, I am trained to listen and to ask the right questions so the people I’m working with can find the answers to what is right for them.

Occasionally people focus on places seemingly far away where war, corruption, and sickness all exist. Lately, the conversation has turned to what’s happening close to home, here in the United States. Shooting after shooting after shooting leaves both of us dumbfounded. While the conversation may incorporate the heated topic of gun control it goes way beyond that. The underlying issue and questions circle around hate. My clients vary from each other and from myself when it comes to race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. It’s not about my opinions or me but about the people I’m working with and how they try to make sense about what’s going on. We discuss crucial topics such as race, sexual identity, and religious beliefs. These are valuable conversations because they lead back to the individual in front of me. It opens the door for us to discuss their experiences, both past and present, and how those experiences influence their thoughts and feelings.

During difficult and sad times both my clients and myself are struggling to understand what’s happening in today’s world. We share confusion. We share sadness. We share disbelief. The therapy room ultimately remains a place for clients to have their own voice. After all, I don’t always have answers, explanations, or words of wisdom. I offer, empathy, kindness, and a place free of judgment.

At times it is impossible to help others find their own answers. Even though there may not be answers to the endless questions they ask I feel it’s important that they keep asking. Trying to figure out the world is another way of helping the individual to figure out him or herself too.

It’s OK To Be Selfish

The word selfish is defined as: lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

The idea of being selfish has gotten a bad rep and is often used to criticize someone. After all, being selfish means that an individual is often unable to recognize people around him or her. I believe that when someone is selfish the majority of the time they can be difficult to be close to because the non-selfish person is left feeling unnoticed or devalued.

Have you ever thought about how it’s OK to be selfish? I would argue that being selfish can even be good for you and may at times be necessary. It is important to be able to put yourself first and do what’s best for you. If you’re always doing for others you’ll miss out on what you need.

Imagine that a friend asks you to dinner and you don’t want to go because you’re having financial problems. You say yes anyway. Maybe you’ll go and have an awesome time but then end up feeling stressed when your credit card bill comes in. Alternatively, maybe you’ll feel angry at having said yes and not be able to fully enjoy dinner. It’s not always easy to say no to people but what is the cost at saying yes?

It can be OK to go to the gym after work instead of meeting up with a coworker, friend, or family member. It can be OK to stay home alone and have time to yourself to decompress over meeting up with people. Some people re-energize through being around other people and some people need time to themselves. I recommend asking for what you need and sometimes allowing yourself to be selfish. You can be honest with others or you can keep the reasons to yourself. As an outsider, try to remember that someone saying no might not have anything to do with you.

When people say yes to please others problems may arise. Either they later resent their friend or themselves for saying yes or worse yet they become a person who consistently cancels on others and leaves people thinking they are selfish in the negative sense of the word.

Being selfish as a way to take care of you is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s sometimes necessary to be a little selfish. Taking time for ourselves makes us better people, parents, friends, partners, and employees.