The unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates

Reflecting on this quote by Socrates always inspires me to increased levels of self-examination (both personally and professionally) and consoles me when this level of introspection becomes hard work. Just last month as I was trying to balance the demands of the season with actually being able to enjoy this time, I was struggling with the burdens that certain expectations place on us. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and as the father of ten-year-old twins it is a wonderful time of year! Yet as we all know it can also be a time when expectations are set so high that they’re difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

However, as I reflected on the true meaning of the season, I was blessed with the following perspective – it’s all about authenticity and not perfection! It’s about being present, open and available to the people and experiences that surround us rather than stressing out over creating the perfect Holiday Experience. It’s about taking the time to sit down and really listen to someone, to write a personal note expressing gratitude or to allow yourself the time to draw inward for some much-needed reflection and relaxation.

All this led me back to the importance of AUTHENTICITY in the work I do – the significance of truly being present with my clients so that I can understand what they are experiencing. Especially in this day and age of texting, tweeting and limited attention spans, simply being authentically present with my clients provides them with an experience that they are sorely missing in the rest of their daily lives. I’ve found that wonderful things happen when I can do two things with my clients:

  1. Be truly and authentically present with them.
  2. Be in touch with and open to what they are experiencing.

Often times clients who are angry, calm down. Clients who are overwhelmed, find a sense of peace and safety. Clients who feel like nobody gets them, feel heard and acknowledged. By providing my clients with an authentic experience of being heard and understood I help them create a space that allows them to feel understood so that they can start to work through whatever it is they are facing.

For an example of how working authentically with my clients led to a specific intervention, please see “Lowering Client Stress During Divorce.”