Very often as therapists, we’re seen as a sympathetic ear for all kinds of problems. – Take Jayne for example, who was at her wit’s end. Her seven year old daughter – a handful since birth – had been driving her mad and in desperation Jayne had brought Luella for a session with me, hoping that I could bring some calm to a volatile situation… As Jayne sat down, she looked weary, careworn and tired. Her forehead had a big crease down the centre from constant frowning – and as her daughter Luella began to start kicking the table with her feet, my sympathy went out to her mother. Luella was the younger of two sisters – and had been born at the time her grandfather had died. As Jayne recalled that part sad, part joyous time, tears began rolling down her cheeks.
“I’ve often wondered,” she said, “if Luella picked up on my sadness – and if it has affected her psychological make-up.”
While I wanted to speak to Luella, it was virtually impossible. As well as constantly kicking the table, she refused to make eye contact and kept asking her mother when they’d be leaving. This was hardly a good start – but I was determined not to give up, if only for Jayne’s sake.
When you relax, so does everyone around you… Inspiration struck, and I suggested that we should all play a game. Suddenly I had Luella’s attention. As we were playing, I noticed that Jayne seemed to be enjoying herself too – and that as she began to smile and relax, Luella’s behaviour improved too.
I began to wonder whether Luella was indeed picking up on her mother’s feelings – and half-jokingly said to Jayne, “Usually, when people tell me they have a problem with their children, I suggest that it’s the parents who need to be sorted!”
Jayne smiled in response – and admitted that she had been thinking about booking a session for herself. With that, we made an appointment for the following week. When Jayne arrived the following Monday, she was barely through the door when she broke down, sobbing. “I’m so unhappy,” she cried, “my life just isn’t right.”
As we spoke, it became clear that Jayne’s childhood love of music had led her into a career of teaching. While she’d derived some satisfaction out of sharing her passion with others, she’d always felt something was missing.
Jayne then told me how she had strong spiritual – as opposed to religious – beliefs. Having studied many of the ancient healing systems and modern Alternative therapies, Jayne wanted to do something more profound with her life, rather than just teaching (to use her own words) “uninterested children”.
“Why not combine music with therapy?” I asked, as an image of a friend who works as a sound therapist floated into my mind.
Make sure this is this really what you want to do… It was a though Jayne had been hit by a bolt of lightening. Suddenly, she sat bolt upright, demanding that I tell her more of my friend’s work. “That’s it,” she cried, “that’s what I want to do with my life!”
We carried on our discussion and I scoured my shelves for books on the subject – and her eyes lit up when I handed over three volumes that would prove to be the key to her future.
Two weeks later, Jayne came back with Luella. Both mother and daughter looked completely different. Luella was smiling broadly, carrying something behind her back. With a flourish, the little girl revealed a huge bouquet of flowers – which she promptly handed over to me saying, “These are for you from Mummy!”
Jayne mouthed the words “Thank you” – and knowing that our “official” time together was over, I invited Jayne and Luella into the garden where we all sat down with a cool drink, enjoying the summer sunshine.
Somehow no words were necessary. We were all aware of the changes that had taken place in Jayne – and the positive consequences that these changes had had on Luella. Mother and daughter were – at last – happy and relaxed together.
My Top Five Thoughts…
1 Understand that any tension parents have, they usually manage to pass on to their children.
2 When you (or your client) don’t pursue your own happiness; tension and resentment build up – which tends to lead to negative consequences for both mind and body.
3 Discovering your life purpose doesn’t have to be hard. Think about what you love doing – and then imagine how you could make it into a business. If you can imagine it, you can generally find a way to make it happen!
4 Learn from other people – is there anyone else doing what you’d love to do? Read their autobiographies, offer to buy them lunch, do whatever you can to find out how you could emulate their success.
5 Don’t let age put you off. Some people believe there’s no point in embarking on anything new because in “four years’ time I’ll be 50”! Using this example, in four years time you’d be 50 anyway – so you may as well make the most of it!