Recently I was working with a couple who were shocked to realize that to improve their relationship with their adolescent son, it would require more of an investment than just simply the weekly family therapy session.
I find this is a common misconception about therapy and about relationships generally.
Regardless of the type of relationship, if we want it to work we have to put the time in.
The more we 'show up', the more we get out of the experience.
But what does 'showing up' really mean?
Is it enough to be there at my kid’s soccer game with my head still at work?
How about scooting into my therapy session in the nick of time, having just gotten off a conference call on the way in?
Or what about going on dinner date with my partner, but all the while sharing only what I think he wants to hear?
Yes, making the time to be with another, is absolutely an essential part of making relationships work.
But the question becomes ‘how much of you is really there?’
‘What quality of presence are you bringing to the situation?’
With the notifications of modern technology constantly beeping in our pockets, it can be hard not to let another world into the moment in front of us...
“But Mum, I hurt my knee today”, your child says, as you are checking your email on your smartphone at school pickup.
Do we finish what we were doing and tell her that you will look at her knee when you get home?
Or do we put the phone aside, drop to her height and looking into her eyes, ask her to tell you how it happened and how she is feeling now?
Whilst on paper it may seem obvious which response you would like to believe you would choose, what can we do to ensure that it really is how we do respond?
Take time to cultivate presence for yourself now and throughout your day inviting presence to your own experience.
Stop scanning this article
Slow down and read the words, line for line,
Feel your feet on the ground
Feel your body in the position that it is holding right now
Notice the quality of the light around you falling on your skin
Notice your surroundings, the noises, the structures, the surfaces, your environment
Notice those in your life that support you
Notice your breath moving in and out of your body in its own way
And take a moment to simply be in all of your experience
As you read this line and the next
Give yourself a minute to notice how it is to have presence with self
In finding presence with self, we can develop in our capacity to have presence with other.
So next time you have a therapy session or you are meeting your sweet heart after work, prepare yourself throughout the day, taking a minute to find presence for self.
When it comes to the moment before connecting with this person, in the waiting room or in the restaurant, again invite this presence with self.
In offering this way of being to your meeting, watch the magic of presence unfold.
Relationships are about the quality of presence that we bring to each other.
Invest in your relationships.
Invest in presence with self.
(Bringing mindfulness to much of her work, Sarah Sacks is a Wholebody Focusing Oriented Therapist, practicing from The Grove Counselling & Therapy in St Kilda Melbourne. Taking a holistic approach to both individual and couples counseling, Sarah works to empower her clients to find greater ease and richness in life.)
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