Saturday, 10 January 2009


It's odd, when I work I end up saying the same things over and over again to people.

Hopefully not the same person!

I have to see each person and listen to their story, and then I help them find solutions to their issues. And each person needs to feel that I am telling my words fresh for them. I cannot allow myself to come across as jaded or disinterested in any one persons story. On the whole the difference between people is the story, cause the feelings and reactions are fairly universal.

I don't really work like other therapists, as I believe that if I explain why you feel something in language that is understandable then the client has a chance to use what they've learnt in the session and practise out in their world. So I talk a lot in therapy sessions.

I use the language of emotions and feelings. I swear a lot in therapy, but I wait my moment for the first time I use an expletive. Generally I judge this right, and when I say something like 'I'm not fucking surprised' when someone has told their tale, and is upset, then I can see the fear lifting from my clients.

Cause suddenly they realise that they don't have to hide from me, that I will not judge them for being who they are. That I understand, and can not only empathise, but that they have a sense that I've been there to.

People are so frightened of their feelings, and it is this fear that I work on dispelling in a session. I try to get people to understand that whatever they feel is perfect for them. After all, we are all different and there is no right way to be. Otherwise everyone would be like me!!!

It is incongruous to think that, for example we all have to eat the same breakfast, why would we? We eat what we fancy and not what someone else thinks we should eat.... that is unless someones on a health food kick and is extolling the virtues of porridge and convincing people around to try it! But even then, if you really didn't like porridge you wouldn't eat it just to please someone.

It's the same in so many areas of life, music, sports, TV, films, clothes, we make our own choices. And if we did do as everyone else then you better get used to listening to jazz, hating sports, loving NCIS, adoring the movie Slumdog Millionaire,(which by the way is a must see movie)and wearing levis, timberland boots and cashmere jumpers all the time when your not at work. Cause those are my choices and I'm right........ well at least for me.

So what people do is allow everyone those choices, but then hook into their feelings not being right, which is just madness in my book. What right has anyone to say I have to like porridge YUCK! or that I should vote this way or that, at least for those of us living in a democracy we have that choice. Or I should have a particular religious faith. Or that I should feel whatever it is someone says I should feel.

The answer to all those is NO, I will make my own mind up, and know that my choices are right for me. And this belief in our own power is what I encourage clients to do. To feel confident that it is ok to say NO to someone else. That doesn't mean it has to be rigid, otherwise I'd never have tried curry years ago, as my sense of not liking it would have never let me experiment in the first place. But now I know how hot I like my curry, I won't eat a korma or a vindaloo, as I think they are both horrible. But within the range of what I will eat in terms of temperature I will continue to try different things. So that all the while my taste is being refined to what exactly works best for me.

Feelings are not like this, as what we do with them is we have a hard core belief, usually set in stone as children and then we have a terrible time trying to change our rigid belief systems. But we do, think about how your views have changed over the years as you got more experience of the world. I know that I have a much more global village outlook on the world than ever I did before blogging for example.

So I'm not so fearful as I used to be in that regard. Ok I'm still utterly useless round spiders! But even with those over the years I've learnt to let go of some of my fear some of the time.

As people learn to feel better about themselves they learn to be more empowered about their feelings being right for them. We cannot live our lives through others, how ever much others may want us to. Or that we want to for an easy life.

Living like that is being passive and unhealthy, as an individual has no control over the rightness of being themselves. Obviously if it goes to far the other way that is equally bad, in so far that taking power from other people makes people aggressive. It is very difficult to be around people who, when they ask you if you want a drink, and you say yes to a coffee and they then spend ten minutes telling you that you actually want tea you can end up feeling very disempowered.

I'm talking here about being assertive, believing that I have rights, and that you have rights. And that neither of us has more rights than the other. That we are both equal and different. And that being that way is fine.

And just maybe if more people around the world realised that yes they have power over themselves, but no-one else, then we'd stop all the bloody wars going on. Cause if there is one thing that is a power play it's rightness of enemies views about their enemies.

Whatever happened to live and let live?


Anonymous said...

Live and let live vanished at the same time as people (in the West at least) started saying 'it's my right to....' rather than taking responsibilities for those that 'their rights' may affect. We are now too fond of imposing ourselves on others because we feel we are important and have a right to do so.
We don't.

Fire Byrd said...

Gawd I could have saved myself a lot of words if I'd just used that sentence instead of my ramble....
But then it wouldn't be me!

Mei Del said...

a lot of what you say make sense. just thinking how it's taken me almost over 3 decades to learn patience!

love the new day picture btw

anya said...

I enjoyed your "ramble" plenty, Byrd. It made me think about the woman I was when I was married, and the opinions, beliefs and preferences she had and the ones she kept to herself, and the woman I am becoming now outside of marriage to a very strongly opinionated and judgemental man. There are many areas where I am only now beginning to discover what I believe. What I like. What I want to do, think and act upon.

I love your description of using the word "fuck" so carefully as a reassurance tool. I have done similarly in conversations where I wanted to appear more approachable and empathetic (because I was) to another person.

Rach said...

What a wonderfully written post and one I am sure I will go back to time and time again for inspiration...thanks Byrd...xx

Angela said...

Empowerment is such a wonderful word, is it not? I like your post, Byrdie, you are surely a great teacher! Go on!

justme said...

Nice Post Fire Byrd! I am not a therapist, but my job DOES involve me dealing with other peoples problems. And I spend half my life, it seems, telling people that while they cannot control what happens to them, they DO have choices about how they deal with things.
But you know what? Most people seem not to WANT to think for themselves they are comfortable with the mob....
Am I rambling? I may be...

Lori ann said...

Dear Byrd, i'm glad for all your words, they make perfect sense to me.In trying to live my life with as much compassion as i can helps me to see that even though we are different, we are so much the same,the whole world round:)
xxx lori

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Live and let live became live and let die. You are so right in what you say in this post. You must be one fucking great therapist.

standing still })|({ said...

hey there firebyrd i was so glad to read you lat two posts, hurray for you and your family!!! wonderful news to share and i rejoice with you :O)

this post.... man o man... i needed to hear it.... not that i am judgemental to others... but the self judgments never end.... yuck! and i just read about the symptoms of inner peace, from a mutual friend ;O), and sadly i don't have but maybe half of those :O(

e-mailed this post to myself... i'll be re-reading it and letting it give me a few good kicks in the rear! many thanks!

btw, feel free to share the story here ;O)


Mel said...

*bowing, humbly*

Greatly received--greatly appreciated.

Fire Byrd said...

mei, ah yes patience is a virtue and all that, but it's hard to connect with when the world is giving us an off day!

anya, I think it is totally wonderful that you are becoming your own person, you are so strong and vibrant, it's just sad that you were hidden for so fucking long!!

rach, I'm so glad my words are an inspiration to you, there are so many more of them in me to let go off !

angela, I'm blushing now at that fine compliment, thank you

just me, ramble away as you are so right. But slowly bit by bit, or person by person the world will change. And we can hold our heads up knowing we've done our bit.

lori, you sound such a wonderful person it is a joy for me that you are in my life.

wake up, you are right and its a shame that those words got changed and now everyone thinks of a James Bond movie and not the essence of the meaning. Thank you for the compliment as well, much appreciated.

C, I am so pleased you made it here. It is so lovely to continue to get to know each other. And thank you for your permission to publish the story. You are one strong woman.

mel, we all learn from one another and you are such a strong woman , you have only my admiration for what you deal with daily.

Pam said...

You expressed these things well Fire Byrd. We've always lived by the philosophy of "Live and Let Live" in this household and it's worked well. Annoys everyone else in the family who like a good gossip and soap opera life-style.Don't know how many times we've reinterated that phrase on the phone and opted out of the dramas.We don't impose our opinions on others -I'm proud of that.Great post.I did feel however, that when you...(just joking)

karen said...

so true.. being equal and at the same time so different...Great to hear a bit about your therapy life & it sounds like you have a wonderful gift for helping people.

Yes, I'm also a huge fan of the Live and Let Live theory!Just makes perfect sense to me.. thanks for the thought provoking post x

Sorrow said...

you know i remember this conversation, sitting in the woods , by a labyrinth.
I loved hearing it then, and i love reading it now.
You are one awesome lady
you know that don't cha?

Fire Byrd said...

Pam, what a great way to live, you have every right to be proud of it.

karen,if we all got one person a week to be able to see that live and let live was a good way forward, wouldn't that just be incredible.

sorrow, it takes one awesome woman to know another. You and your labyrinth were just so important to me on my journey.

Lady in red said...

I think my parents brought me up to live and let live but the one person it is hardest to not be judgemental of is our own self.

The wise words of Justme

telling people that while they cannot control what happens to them, they DO have choices about how they deal with things

reminds me of what I was trying to say to a certain blogger last year.


I am here ;)

Fire Byrd said...

lady, you are so right about choice, there is always a choice. And hey we know beter than most about the life and death one!
Love your penultimate sentence !!!!

cheekydani said...

Post full of wisdom, thoughtfulness - and questions. Well, making me question anyway. The only thing I can figure is that we all have our own paths to follow and some walk faster down that path than others.

I never really have understood wars or armed forces or that sort of aggression. One of the guys I've been getting to know commented that "every man loves stilettos, forget guns, stilettos could stop wars!" Personally I'd like to put the leaders of the opposing sides in a padded room with knitting needles, balls of wool, and a cuppatea... see if they get any further than throwing £million bombs at each other!!

Thanks for giving me something to think on...


Deepak Madabushi said...

Great post.. I've always wondered what would it be like to get into the head of a therapist.. thanks to you, I know now. Perceptions and beliefs are good to an extent. Being opinionated helps confidence, when these turn into a belief of entitlement is where it all goes wrong. Looks forward to more !

Val said...

wonderful post thank you. if we allow for eachothers differences it makes the world a rich and varied place. learning to love from the inside out is the key i think but can take a lifetime!
love the blog therapy :-) you can and do make a difference already

Walker said...

You can't make people be who they are not and you can't judge people for who they are.
Stripped naked of any social restraints we are all the same basically with different perspectives of life and to truly understand each other we have to meet each other on our own ground.
I think you have the perfect attitude towards how you treat people, not only your clients.
Living like this gives you an enritched view of life

Fire Byrd said...

dani what a fantastic solution, knitting for peace.... I can G. Brown running up an Aran jumper for some foreign despot!!!

deepak, welcome. Not sure if the inside of a therapists head is worth the effort, but thanks for looking.

val, I think you are right. Learning to be at peace with ourselves is half the battle in stopping being frightened of others.

walker, I do my best and on a good day it works. Then I get all grouchy and mean on others.