“How can you sit with people and listen to their struggles, their pains, their tears?” This is a question that I’m sure is not unique to me as a therapist and coach. I’ve been asked this question probably no less than fifty times.
When I’m asked this question, what comes to my mind every time is the courage of my clients and how honored I am to be able to share in life with another human being. I also think about how, yes, sometimes there’s a lot of pain, but there is also a lot of joy, excitement, and fun as goals are reached and new insights found. There are seasons for all of us, and that goes for coaching and therapy as well. Sometimes it’s dealing with the hard stuff, sometimes it’s dreaming and engaging, and sometimes it’s celebrating!
So much shame is sometimes wrapped up in us working through life with another person like a therapist or a coach. This makes me so sad because it’s really the opposite. A long time ago, I read something that has stayed with me since first reading it in “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, and I think it exemplifies what I see every day: “There was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest courage, the courage to suffer.”
There is no shame in facing struggles head on. In fact, it is strength, it is courage. My clients inspire me on a daily basis. I am no different. I have days where it hurts like crazy, and I want to run away from the pain. We all do, and I can tell you on the days that it hurts, I am reminded of my clients and the strength they have to face life head on. Their ability to address the struggles and pain of life and not ignore them. To learn a little more about their lives, to go into introspection and talk it out with another person, all the while gaining new perspectives and knowledge for moving through this world a little better. For it’s in moving through the pain (not getting stuck in it and not ignoring it) that healing begins. What my clients do every day is not just courageous, it’s smart.
“Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it,” Frankl. Whether this statement is completely true or not, I don’t know. But I do know there is much truth in it. The truth that most psychotherapists understand. Addressing the pain, allowing the pain in for a moment, is a huge part of healing. Contemplation and having someone to talk through all of these things creates greater joy and frees us from continual suffering, and it also creates those “a-ha” moments where everything seems to be clearer and the pain has a little less power.
So next time you sit down to have a good cry, sit in contemplation during some suffering, or think about talking to a therapist or coach, remember: It’s courageous to go into the place of struggle for a time, to learn from it and understand it. By moving through the pain, you will find yourself in a good space. You’ll become healthier, and so will your relationships and your businesses. When we face our struggles and pain head on, we become the author of our lives and businesses. There’s no weakness or shame here. Only courage and smarts.