"Helping people who help people"

My family systems readers will appreciate my life lately.  As my husband is working hard in two jobs, I’m overcompensating subconsciously by over-extending myself… to be the savior of the family.  One of the ways I’m being ridiculous is by painting the living room.  I’ve never painted before and decided to attempt this at 7pm Saturday night.  Bad idea for many reasons.

One awful paint tone and bad painting job… then two more samples of paint tests and another new gallon later, plus some web surfing for tips and tricks, and I’m at it again.  Only this time things are going slightly better.  You know, since I’ve learned from my horrid mistakes and have a little more practice now…

I think about these life moments as good metaphors for therapy.  I’ll fully admit I had a big, undeserved ego about painting.  I thought I’d be good!  I had no data to back this up and in fact had contrary data from other parts of my life (bad attention to detail in the physical world… great details with electronic stuff though.)  So the crash was extra hard when I saw what a bad job I did with one wall of paint.  It made me not want to try again… but my husband is working two jobs and has no time, and this was MY project, clear from the start.  So I wait a few days, get more samples, and decided to tackle it again last night (and will again today.)

I’m doing better than before, but my ego is now in its proper place.  I’m now very mediocre instead of awful.  I’ve had some ego bruising, humility, and am now more balanced in how I view this Me Vs The Paint situation.

People may enter therapy with some ego around something and it’s the therapist job to slowly unravel everything and discover if perhaps they are avoiding, overcompensating, or otherwise being unhealthy in what appears to be a positive thing in their life.  But in the end, the hope is they are actually calmer, happier, and their egos are healthier (if less bold.)  They see things as they really are and are able to handle “the truth.”

I’ve been thinking lately about how I’ll probably work well with male clients because I’m a very analytical, non-girly girl and good at telling people really blunt things without offending them.  And I think about the metaphors I can use with men who like sports.  The metaphors I think of are more generic to selling therapy itself, not necessarily working on a particular issue they’re having.  My latest metaphor is to think of a time when you got a really good set of golf clubs, or a coach gave you an AMAZING, but small pointer on a move.  Or you even got amazing shoes.  Every time you ever play that sport, or walk/hike, for the rest of your life, that little tiny tip will stay with you.  Often it’s those small moments that are the most startling because it has such a lasting impact.  And therapy can be like this.  It could be one small strategic move in your personal life, relationships, or your own small business, and it can reap positive rewards lasting well behind the 10 sessions at $100/each in therapy.  If someone where to say you can take a $1,000 vacation and have a really nice week, or you can spend $1,000 and spend the next 45 years of your life living better, I think it would get people thinking!

What metaphors do you all have for therapy?

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