Every Anchor Has a Hidden Anchor
I might be the luckiest man in all of California. But things often look different from the outside. I have been asked many dozens of times by concerned friends and curious clinical psychology patients and coaching clients how I manage to listen to people’s problems all day long and not take it all home. “How do you survive,” they ask. I playfully tell these uninformed observers and participants that I feel sorry for them that they don’t get to do what I do. I remind them that every day I have intense and powerful and even humorous conversations with people regarding the most intimate and vulnerable aspects of their life. People tell me secrets, struggles, desires, and dreams they have never told anyone in their life. In my office or online people cautiously wade into emotions they never similarly explore with others. I have the opportunity to strip away all the usual protocols and pretense with people and engage in a conversation rife with vulnerability and authenticity that is woefully not the norm in human interactions. It’s the ultimate privilege.
Coaching and therapy is all about the client but despite that singular focus I have personally benefited and learned so much from them. They have possibly taught me more than the sum of all the learning from my graduate schools. I have seen so many people change their lives that all capacity for cynicism and pessimism has been driven out of me.
The hardest part of being a clinical psychologist is not - hearing all the stories and taking it home. In other words, going home overwhelmed by all the stories and emotion and collapsing in a heap of stress. No. It’s going home and adjusting to the normal easygoing rhythm of life and usual carefree relationships that generally lack the ultra intensity and hyperfocus. The most difficult part of being a psychologist is making the adjustment that the whole world can’t be like the therapy office. The drama is all at the office. Because there is an anchor in my life.
So What Should I Ask Myself?
- Who are you telling your secrets, struggles, desires, and dreams to?
- How can I be so solid that someone else can come home to me and I am their anchor?