People sometimes ask me, “How can you listen to people’s problems all day long? That sounds like it would be really depressing.” I guess if I looked at it that way, it would be kind of a downer! But thankfully, I don’t see what I do that way at all. (A psychologist or psychotherapists job is far more complex than just listening, many sympathetic people can do that!)
I don’t see what I do as listening to people’s problems, I see it as listening for the solutions (and then the fun and rewarding part: helping people to find a solution or a different way of seeing and doing things).
The listening part of my job is a very complex task. I am listening to “the problem,” I am looking for connections, patterns and threads. I am listening for the roots of the problem. I am listening for negative beliefs and maladaptive meanings that support the problems, and I am thinking of possible solutions. Phew. No wonder my brain is tired by the end of a full day!
I recently watched a TED talk called, “How to inspire anyone to do anything”. I found it very inspiring indeed! Simon Sinek’s point is that people are inspired to act by why we do what we do, not by what we do. I think that is exactly why I find my job inspiring and rewarding, not depressing. It is not the listening part (part of what I do), it’s why I do it, that inspires me, keeps me doing it, and hopefully is giving my patients what they need to improve their lives.
No one’s life is perfect. We all have things that have happened to us that color the way we see things or that get in the way of our living to our potential. I do what I do because I find it very rewarding to help people identify the source of the things that are getting in their way, so they can live a more full, productive, healthy and happy life. I enjoy helping couples to deepen and improve their relationships, and their communication so they can continue the hard work of being in a relationship.
Sometimes people think having to get therapy is bit of a punishment or a sign of weakness. I think it is an amazing opportunity and a sign of strength. Successful therapy requires at least two active and engaged people (the therapist and the person or people seeking therapy). The transformation and meaningful change that ultimately results from”listening to people’s problems,” is why I do what I do!