We have good days and bad days. Or at least bad days and less bad days.
I’m always curious about the times when things are a little better.
I want to discover what we did to make things a little better.
Sometimes, people tell me that they’ve been down all week, but feel better today.
I become interested in how they managed to get themselves feeling better today.
That seems a more powerful place to focus on. The answers have the potential to reveal strategies that are already helping to ease suffering.
I could choose to amplify the misery. But what use is a conversation about feeling bad if we could be finding clues about what makes you feel better.
At first, these questions can take people by surprise.
The idea that they had anything to do with making themselves feel better can be a novel one.
A common answer is “I don’t know.”
But given some reflection time, they begin to share their theories of how life improved a bit for them.
In those answers, they begin to witness their own power to change things.
If doing that made life better then, maybe it would work in the future too.
Soon, an array of customised strategies begins to emerge.
These are better than the strategies that therapists tell clients to do. How many times have you told a friend to just do this, and all will be fine.
But they don’t, because what works for you doesn’t work for them. You are different people.
It’s the same with good therapy. Finding out what already works for someone is like a tailor made outfit that fits perfectly.
What would you prefer? A tailor made outfit that fits you? Or the clothes of someone who is not even your size and shape?
Often, people come up with ideas that minimise their own role in improving life.
If they are on medication, they’ll credit the pills.
If things got better in time, they may credit time passing.
If they slept well because they were so exhausted, they will credit the exhaustion.
Yet I remain curious.
What did you do to help the pills along? How did you manage to let time passing do its job and not get in its way? What did you do that ensured exhaustion led to sleep, rather than being exhausted awake?
In those cracks, more strategies emerge that would otherwise have been missed.
Sometimes, people will claim that they had no choice but to improve or keep going.
There’s a dog to walk, a child to get ready for school, a job to turn up to.
“You’ve just got to keep going, haven’t you?”
But of course, not everyone does keep going. Yet they are. How?
Every hint of improvement is an opportunity to discover how you are creating that.
It’s a chance to notice your own power and resilience – to spot your own genius.
Our work is to find the strategies that fit you perfectly and are already working.
Taking credit for all the changes you are making is crucial.
It builds confidence that you have the power to make more of them.
It generates a set of strategies that are already making life a little better.
It gives you the tools to make life better still.
Change is happening for us all the time. Let’s find out how we are doing that, and do it some more.