A client called this morning to reschedule our next session. We had met only once, so this would be only our second session. Two weeks ago, she came to my office at the recommendation of a common friend and began to learn a new way of living. At the end of that session, I explained that she had just learned some very powerful things that could be applied as soon as she walked out the door. She would leave my office, go back out into the world for a period of time, practice what she had learned, and then return to discuss. What did you do well? What could use improvement? It’s all purely about learning – there is absolutely no self-criticism. If you got into a fight or an argument, that’s fine – we just roll back the film, replay it in super slow-motion, and break down exactly when things started heading south and why. Then you go back out into the world and practice some more. Wash, rinse, repeat. Life will invariably bring you exactly what you need to practice on. And you get better and better with practice. It’s so cool for me to see. People do this stuff that they learn and it works.
After the first session, this client wanted to come back one week later to really keep on it. That’s not a bad idea when learning something new. A conflict came up that week, so we moved it back another week. This brings us to when she called this morning. So it has been two weeks. I said that we could set up something soon or wait another week to keep that same day and time – of course it’s up to her. She replied that overall she was doing fine and waiting another week would be no problem. Then she casually said that she had started to have a meltdown at work recently, but she used what she had learned and avoided it. She’s had panic attacks at work before, by the way.
She sounded very non-chalant as she said this, but on the other end of the phone, I was jumping for joy. I was high-fiveing the air (if that’s how you spell high-fiveing). I said, “Wait – you almost had a meltdown at work and you avoided it? You mean to tell me that you simply learned some things from some dude, applied them in your life, and the result was avoiding a potential freaking panic attack? Do you realize how huge that is? You did it! Do that same thing for the rest of your life and it’ll be so much more peaceful than it otherwise would’ve been – no comparison!” I get kind of excited about these kinds of things…
After my initial happy freak-out, I asked her exactly what had happened. She said that she had been at work at a stressful restaurant job and suddenly felt a very strong wave of dread about being there. This was the moment of truth. In the past, this dread had lots of power to take her down. Now she was armed with some pretty powerful knowledge, though. Instead of letting her mind race out of control with thoughts of how terrible the situation was and how bad it would be if she were to have a panic attack, she stopped. She breathed. She felt that dread without labeling it, and she let it go. She reminded herself that it was just another day at work, and there wasn’t anything that bad about it – not bad enough to justify freaking out, anyway. Maybe it wasn’t her ideal way to spend the day, but a panic attack out of nowhere? No way. Not anymore.
At this point, the dread was stopped in its tracks and revealed to be not that bad. When we don’t stop to investigate something like this, it can grow in power and even spiral out of control. The voice in the head tells a story that supports it. The feeling is assumed to be crippling. It’s not, though. It’s just not. Go see for yourself, although for some people it helps to first do this in a safe place like the super comfortable chair in my office. When a person gets the hang of doing things this way, s/he is no longer afraid of unwanted feelings. They have been exposed.
This client used new knowledge with great success. The result is that she now has her first real-life experience to go with that knowledge and to support it. That day marked the first day of the rest of her life. Before that day, she had little power. Now she knows that she is very powerful. It’ll take more to rattle her, and as she keeps living and practicing, it’ll take more and more. This is the path of inner peace. As I’ve said before, it’s pretty cool…
NOTE: All of these client stories are told with no identifying information and of course with permission from the clients. My only interest in sharing these stories is to help more and more people find peace, and these clients are interested in the same thing. There is no pressure on the clients to allow their story to be told. Finally, note that these stories are always told at a certain point in time.
When they are told, it is unknown how the future will unfold. Feelings are powerful, thoughts are powerful, and the past is powerful. New and old issues might emerge after progress is made. If that happens, though, we know how to deal with it. In these cases, I’ll write up the rest of the story if and when appropriate. As said before, it’s all about helping more and more people find peace.