Clients often try to convince me of how terrible they are, that they are uniquely selfish or jealous or angry or impatient or irritable or irrational or unworthy or needy or controlling or boring or or or or or or or . . . It is as if the part of our brains responsible for negative self-appraisal sits alone in a tower of Eternal Punishment with no sense that every other human brain has this same part locked in a very similar tower. From the brain’s negativity bias (a powerful evolutionary adaptation that has us scan for threat and focus on danger / negative feedback in order to stay safe and maintain connection) comes the ultimate in isolation: it becomes very difficult for us to witness ourselves honestly, without getting locked in a tower of our own shame.
A big part of my work with clients (and with myself) is helping them learn to notice with kindness. In my office, I have a saying: “If it isn’t kind, it isn’t true.” This is not a clever form of therapeutic denial. In fact, I want my clients (and myself) to develop a raw and vulnerable form of self-honesty. But when cruelty accompanies our noticing ~ especially our self noticing ~ it impedes our ability to see clearly. And there is always a kind way to notice and name reality.
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Rafia Rebeck, MEd, MA, LPC, is trained in the Hakomi Method of Psychotherapy. She offers a warm, sincere, and safe approach for those who seek personal transformation through mindfulness. Please feel welcome to get in touch by contacting email@example.com. If this blog postcard was meaningful for you, please feel free to share it with others who may benefit.