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The Silent Treatment

The ultimate goal of a writer is to pen words which contain the magic to inspire, encourage, or awaken readers and to have those words ring in the hearts of humanity throughout eternity. To overcome the inherent limitations language constrains on human emotions and join them together in a simple yet poetic way that deserves the honor to be deemed immortal.

The ultimate goal for a counselor, therapist, or life coach is to speak words which help their clients overcome adversity and experience a transformation. Knowing full well that one misspoken or misunderstood word could tragically deny their clients the chance of reaching the inner peace or transformation they so dearly were hoping to find.

There are two elements, among others, which these distinguished goals have in common. The first is that they both involve words. Words are powerful. They inspire, encourage, transform, or enlighten. They also diminish, discourage, inhibit, or confuse. Whether words are spoken or written, there ought to be a conscientious effort to use them with a sense of responsibility and great accountability.

The second component is that both the writer and the counselor continue to develop their art or practice. Remaining stagnant in their craft is in truth, a digression and they will eventually disappoint those who entrusted them with their time and confidence.

In a miniscule way, I find myself balancing both of these worlds. Although my main objective with my articles is not to pen immortal words, I do hope they inspire and encourage others to take an honest and vulnerable approach to their own lives. And while I consider myself more of a guide than a coach, helping others on their journeys of emotional healing and greater personal development provides a sense of purpose no amount of money could ever replace. This past week, however, I experienced a moment of growth too powerful not to pass along.

Last Sunday’s article was the second in a series about emotional healing. I have written extensively on this subject and consider it extremely important. It can be a difficult subject to navigate but what our world has been experiencing lately calls for all of us to heal in our own unique ways. The question for many still remains how does their own healing occur?

While emotional healing happens in countless ways, I have never been hesitant about sharing my thoughts on how it might happen. However, there was a comment which seemed to dismiss some of what I was saying. The comment wasn’t mean or derogatory, it simply questioned whether the ideas were coming from a perspective of someone in dire need of healing. Intrigued and wanting to understand more, I responded to his comment in hopes of a further clarification

He explained that he had suffered extremely painful and traumatic events from his military service and that suffering continued for decades without any relief. Finally, he met a doctor who assured him she could help.

The part which caught me by surprise as well as impacted me the most was that his doctor did not have profound words for him, but rather she merely allowed him to talk. He shared his traumas, issues, and seemingly insurmountable difficulties and her biggest help to him was giving him a caring and empathetic ear.

After reading those words, I paused.

His response nearly took the wind out of my proverbial sails. His healing did not come from listening to novel advice, reading inspirational thoughts, or listening to soothing music. He did not require a dynamic speaker nor a Pulitzer Prize winning author. He needed to use his voice for no other purpose than to unleash the years of chaos and confusion that continued to build up after enduring the original trauma and pain.

The idea of someone needing to get things off their chest was not a novel idea. It is an important component when I work with my clients. I, on the other hand, had been focused on stating my thoughts clearly and eloquently while neglecting the idea that when someone feels free to talk about their deepest and perhaps darkest moments and convey them to someone who generally cares, this is typically the most effective method to initiate healing.

For some, this may seem like a rather insignificant moment. For me, it was a huge reminder that no matter how eloquent my words may be woven together, no matter how poetic they might ring on the ears of the listener, or no matter how articulately they may be spoken, the most important part is that someone receives healing.

For nearly six years, I’ve faithfully posted articles written specifically about personal development. I have received countless comments thanking me for my viewpoints or for helping them understand old subjects in a different light. But during that time, I do not remember any comment which affected me the way this one had.

I am truly thankful for those words which for me was definitely a moment of growth. These incidents are vital to me as well as my clients. If I cannot continue to grow, it would be hypocritical to expect it from those who have entrusted me to guide them on their journeys.

It also is a valuable reminder that it is alright if things don’t go as planned. That people, their healing and personal development, is far more important than what I may draft or utter. To remain humble, grateful, and thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given and never allow what I do to become more important than the people I am helping. That often, listening has more power than any words I could write or speak. And when someone finally discovers how to heal and truly experiences it, that is a job well done.

My thanks to Alissa De Leva on Unsplash for the wonderful picture and I look forward to your comments.

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