Don’t you just hate it when you start feeling a growth edge for yourself, and then the universe shows up full force and gives you these pushes towards this place?
I’m becoming more and more aware of the need to be bolder in the room. I’ve been absorbing this in different ways from what I learn from Lorrie Brubacher, George Faller, Kelly Bourque’s latest newsletter, and others. This touches on so many different aspects, so I’ll highlight the main areas where I’m seeing this as a growth edge:
1. Bolder in how I speak
I counted the number if times I said, “if I’m getting this right,” or “if I’m hearing you right, and always correct me if not,” in a session I taped recently, and it was close to 20 times. No joke. Ugh! I sound so removed and cognitive, which is not at all how I want to sound.
I then started watching some of Lorrie Brubacher’s tapes (she just released three excellent training tapes on her website). I’ve heard Lorrie counsel many times, but each time I’m listening for something different. I watch her tapes repeatedly, and this morning I decided to listen for just how she speaks. She is respectful and gentle, but doesn’t use a ton of sentence preambles the way I do. She reflects in a tone that invites disagreement if she’s wrong, but she’s much clearer and more confident in her tone and simplicity in her reflections than I am.
Action Step: I’ve been consciously trying to cut out how many times I give a preamble, and just go for the reflection, trusting that my emotional energy is respectful and I am always quick to adapt if the reflection doesn’t land.
2. Bolder in how I interrupt
I hate interrupting, because I want my clients to feel heard. If I don’t interrupt, they can gain momentum into their vent about their partner and dysregulate themselves and shut down/enrage their partner. Lorrie interrupts frequently and with skill. She interrupts most often with a reflection, diverting them from going down content tubes, and also diverting them from going into a view-of-other speech. Watching her videos, I can see how she can do in one session what might take me 3-5 sessions, because she goes straight for the heart of what’s happening and doesn’t look squeamish about interrupting.
Action Step: Continue to gain boldness in interrupting. See if I can test some limits for myself. I’m wondering if I can give myself permission to interrupt much more, and then I can always back off or apologize if it feels like I’m mis-attuning with someone or irritating them. It helps me to watch 15 minutes or so of Lorrie’s videos before my sessions to get me in that flow.
3. Bolder in how I trust my instincts
It’s rare to have a mixed agenda couple, but when you have one, you know it. You can feel it in your stomach in the room. The problem is, the leaning out partner is rarely ready to be clear on this, because they aren’t ready to lose the relationship (at least I think this is why they aren’t ready to be clear on this). What I often hear in these dynamics is the leaning out partner wants “time.” They are leaning back, seeing if their partner changes or becomes more pleasant, and waiting to see if time makes their feelings come alive again. Here, I typically hop on board the optimism train and plow into cycle work, hoping we find some attachment threads and clarity into the cycle that shifts how the leaning out partner feels. I become the over-working cheerleading convincer, and start doing way more work than they are.
Action Step: My wonderful supervisor, Felicia, gave me some awesome help here. She helped me find the language to really assess what the couple’s goals are for if therapy works. My translation of her guidance to me is asking them: what kind of relationship do you long for with each other? What exactly would that look like? What kind of closeness would you have? Does that match?
If they say they want time, I can ask more specifically: what is it that you hope time alone would change? Are you saying you’re hoping your partner does work on themselves while you hang back and observe if it’s safe enough for you to engage? That’s a reflection with more challenge to it, but I’ve been learning the hard way that working hard with a mixed-agenda couple without clarity on goals does not move them forward.
4. Bolder in how I trust the model
I had a great therapist reflect back to me recently that I seemed to be sucked into the cycle with my client. I tend to do this when there is a ton of emotional reactivity, and so much of the session is spent on regulating. I start to avoid any triggers, and not activate their reactivity, and I become totally lost in what I’m doing.
This helped me pull out and do a solid Step 3 with a client, while riding some intense roller coasters of reactivity.
Action Step: Try to notice when I’m in the cycle with the client. Notice when I don’t want to do a Step 3 because I’m afraid of their reactivity. More boldly step into the model and ride the reactivity waves as they come.
This is my boldness resolution list - what ways would you like to try being bolder?