A few weeks ago I had my intake appointment with Marloes Elbrink, Life Coach with Stekker Coaching. That's her on the right. She was a bit younger than I expected, dressed fashionably and casually, as seems the norm here in Holland. She greeted me, showed me to our meeting room, and offered me a beverage. Then she got down to business.
She invited me to talk about why I was looking for help at all. I told her about how stressful the last few months had been, and that I knew something needed to change, but I didn't know what. I explained that I had been to talk-therapy in the past, and although extremely useful intellectually, I wanted something more practical. I noticed right away that her style of interacting with me was very different than what I had experienced with talk-therapy.
As I told her about some of the things that had happened, I felt myself re-living the events, and of course there were tears, anger, hurt and frustration. In talk-therapy, that had been a place to sit and dwell a while. Not so with Marloes! No, instead she would sum up what I had said, and then ask leading questions. I found this very helpful for two reasons. First, I don't actually enjoy feeling angry or hurt so I was glad to move on. And secondly, she 'validated' my feelings and at the same time, invited (expected) me to use my creativity and intelligence to move on. I guess I wasn't feeling too able to do that on my own.
Once we had chatted for a while, and we both thought that she knew enough about me and understood what was bothering me, she gave me an assignment. It was a toughie!! I was given a set of pencil crayons, shown to a large easel, and asked to draw a tree that I felt represented me in my life now.
I didn't feel at all that the assignment was silly, but I did struggle to even begin. A lot of thoughts swirled in my head, from how to make a 'perfect' representation to where to begin and why. Finally I drew something like this:
Then we talked about my tree. I explained that this was actually a tree to be very proud of. After all, look how much it has achieved! It is nice and tall, with lots of beautiful green leaves. And it grew even without any roots at all, and kept growing and achieving lots of things, which is why it is so tall. But all those achievements up in the air, lacking good support from the roots up to the achievements makes my tree vulnerable to the wind or other external events. So then I drew my 'ideal' tree:
As you can see, this is a totally awesome tree. It has a great root system, a nice strong trunk, and can easily support all of its beautiful leaves. If a storm came by, this tree would do just fine.
I was really surprised at how touching and meaningful I found this exercise. As a result, I have made a commitment to myself to focus on re-building a strong foundation for myself. I am putting what I need to build my base as my first priority in all things.
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