He fell asleep on the bus and missed his stop.The old man got off at…
|“Clear and firm boundaries and doing your own work!”|
This is what I answered when a friend recently interviewed me. The question was something like What are the key things a new coach or therapist (or a workshop leader – my addition) needs the most.
Knowing individual exercises, phrases or even particular methods or skills is secondary in my opinion.
The most important thing is to do your own work.
And when you have done and keep doing your own work maintaining healthy boundaries is far easier. There is a clear separation between you and I and I can feel compassion and relate and I am not swiped away with someone else experience and emotions (also called as over identification with the client )
And why is that?
You can not be fully present to the participant or client (or your friend/spouse/family member for that matter) when you get easily triggered by things from your past.
When we are triggered we react to something that took place far before the person opened their mouth or had that expression in their face or did that movement. We react strongly because there is something incomplete and unpleasant in our past.
Maybe we are not aware of what is exactly the trigger. That is ok.
We can work on our triggers at bodily level any way. Sensations can shift and we can create healing and replacing experiences when we are experiencing difficult emotions, memories or sensations in a safe environment where we have time and support.
So the good news is: we can heal and we can be less triggered and more present.
The bad news is: this requires work and willingness to look into painful things.
And at times the progress can be slow.
Or there can be a step forward and two back.
It’s not linear work.
Many times you need to go through shit (= tough times) before it gets easier.
Your personal work might also be a lot slower than you expect.
Things come up that are painful or you have forgotten.
You will most likely see some of your childhood characters in a different light – like your mother, father, siblings, grandparents, teachers, school time friends etc.
I for one thought for a long time that my dad was the bad guy in my parents dynamic and doing my work I realized my father was the loud one and my mother had many inadvertent ways to guilt trip and be a martyr.
I also realized that my brother was just a kid as well and my parents were the responsible ones. They did not offer him and me all the support and presence we had deserved.
I am not so much blaming anyone any more. I blamed my dad for a long time and was able to forgive, understand and connect in a deep way (read more about my completion with my dad here.) ❤️
I have had a hard time letting go of my anger towards my mother.
And my anger does raise its head once in a while. I am now feeling more sadness. My mom seems to be unwilling or unable to dig deep into the history of our family – concerning her parents and her grandparents – and feel all the emotions involved from the past. And I’m still trying to accept that.
That is my lifetime’s spiritual practice: accepting, trying to accept, accessing love and compassion, taking care of myself and having healthy boundaries with my mom. ❤️
So I am trying to say this.
When I come across a participant or private client who reminds me of some of my mother’s ways of behaving I notice the tension in my stomach, emotion or a thought in my head.
And I also know that this is about me not about the participant.
I notice the sensations and thoughts and let them go or stay in the background.
Not pushing them away – rather parking them for looking into them in the future in therapy, work supervision or in conversation with my work & life partner Pete.
If my trigger is still hampering my presence with the client l voice it or have my co-leader to take over while I keep noticing and letting go and getting grounded.
Often someone’s story or how they show up is really touching me.
I feel strong compassion or relating closely to the sharing.
That is mainly a good thing.
I am a person, not a robot.
Someone’s happy or tough stories touch me. I might get teary out of compassion or joy.
I will most times share what is up for me and keep in mind that my sharing is still about them and meant to be serving the person or the group.
I am willing to show myself and be real with others. I don’t try to bullshit my feelings away when others have most likely already noticed them anyway.
And I don’t want to be swiped away with my feelings – the focus is still with the participant. If I get really sad or joyful and that becomes a focus I am not serving the other, being there for them in a grounded way.
Also having a very strong reaction to someone’s thought or sad story can give them a signal that what they are sharing is “too much” or “super serious” and requires tons of work to get over it.
One participant shared that they got such strong reactions (disbelief and sadness and questioning the accuracy of the memories) from social workers and therapists about their childhood abuse that they ended up taking care of the professional and not the other way around.
In this case they got a message that sharing difficult things was not ok and that even professionals cannot be there for them. And that there’s something really exceptional and big that happened to them, beyond “normal” people’s experiences and ability to handle.
I might be over analyzing this here. Some of these comments I heard from the person themselves. Who is nowadays I judge in a much better place after doing their own work and healing.
So. Of course we all get triggered. Sharings will touch us.
That is the beauty of this work. Being an actual human being with other human beings.
I do not know more than the other knows.
I just have another – agreed – role.
And experience and training in working with people.
So: doing your own work is vital.
Whether you are in some kind of helping or serving profession or a partner/parent/someone’s child, coworker, boss or a friend.
For me the best financial and time investment has been to start my healing and exploring journey.
That has included having ongoing therapy for several years and going to therapy when there has been a tough time such as my divorce or issues with kids. And going to different trainings and workshops such as Radical Honesty, Landmark, NPL, tantra, dance and more.
And doing professional training: therapist training, Divorce seminar leader training, trauma training, Radical Honesty trainer’s training and currently one year Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy training (maybe more about that later!)
Very important to me currently is also talks with other trainers especially with Pete, group work supervision with Brad Blanton and individual work supervision with an experienced therapist.
I have a question for you:
How have you worked on your triggers?
What are the key actions and tools on your healing journey?
Tuulia (& Pete)
PS: I realised I did not share more about firm and healthy boundaries: Something I find vital and I do struggle with at times.
Do you want to hear more about that in an upcoming newsletter?
Or another topic I did not cover yet?
PS2. Note that the Early Bird price for Advanced weekend workshop in Amsterdam 2-4 June is running until the end of April! ⏳
This is maybe one of the last Advanced weekends we will offer so if that concept is calling you grab your spot soon!