Do One Thing Different
I did not become a therapist until I was 40 years old. It was a second career for me. I’d been doing medical transcription for years and years, and frankly my hands were wearing out. I was good at medical transcription. I could type very fast and my accuracy was pretty good too. But I had always dreamed of being a mental-health therapist. I wanted to help people learn ways to help themselves. I’m glad I re-careered. Here I am 13 years later doing something I love every single day. I get to meet new people, learn about what’s important in their world, and what’s going right or wrong in their lives.
One of the more challenging aspects to my work is assisting people in moving from seeing only what’s wrong with their lives to seeing what’s right with their lives, and then building on that. The other way I think about this is looking at someone’s personal strengths and personal limitations. We all have strengths and limitations, but sometimes we get stuck and can only see the limitations … the “what’s wrong with me” part. In therapy, we do need to look at both strengths and limitations. We don’t want to ignore the limitations, but we must look realistically at the strengths of the person too. This can really help people move from a stuck position – feeling disempowered – to a more active position of looking at what they can be do to improve the situation and discovering ways to implement – to make it happen.
One way to move from stuck to empowered is to practice doing one thing different. I love the word “practice” because it naturally implies that, if I do it wrong, I can keep practicing and improve. The do-one-thing-different idea is not mine. In fact, there is a whole form of therapy called solution-focused brief therapy. The founders of this type of therapy have a do-one-thing-different motto … and it really works. I’ll warn you that this is not always easy, but it does work.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say you have black socks and brown socks thrown in your drawer at home. Every morning, getting ready for work is an ordeal because the socks are all mixed together and it takes a good 5 or 10 minutes just to figure out which socks are black or brown. This frustrates you every morning, and makes you unhappy before you’ve even left the house for the day. Maybe it’s even made you late for work on a few occasions. So you decide that, the next time you do your laundry, you will sort the socks and put the brown socks in one drawer and the black socks in another. Yes, it takes an extra 10-15 minutes to do, but it prevents the feelings of anger and frustration you’ve been dealing with most in the mornings. You now leave for work on time, feeling pretty good about things – and all because you did just one thing different.
Now I realize that life isn’t always as simple as black socks and brown socks, but I invite you to see if you can practice this idea with something that’s going on in your life. It doesn’t have to be a really big change – just a different way of dealing with something that comes up every single day can start the process.
It’s great blogging with you. Please feel free to send me your questions or comments. I’d love to hear from you. If there’s anything in particular you’d like information about, please let me know. I’ll be happy to incorporate your question or comment into the blog if possible.