At least once a week, I have someone tell me that they can't imagine how I can bear to listen to other people's problems all week. I'm always a little thrown by the statement because it's so far from my actual experience.
Most days my work doesn't feel like work at all and even on days when I am aware of the hard work I am doing in sessions, I still don't feel burdened. On the contrary, I leave most sessions feeling energized, inspired, humbled, and deeply grateful for what is a shrinking experience in our busy world: the experience of connection and vulnerability. I get to see the soft underbelly of fear, doubt and insecurity in so many incredibly strong people. Bearing witness to such vulnerability invokes not repulsion, but tenderness, admiration and care. Therapy is a two-way process that calls for not just my client's vulnerability but my own.
My clients are not a burdensome bunch at all, although they usually come to me in the midst of pain and struggle. I have made it my career to become familiar and comfortable with the inner and outer experience of suffering, so that it doesn't scare me when I see it in others. I know my way around the landscape of trauma, grief, anger, and depression. With the years of clinical experience, my own inner work, and the practice of mindfulness, I've learned to guide people through their own landscape of suffering and I help them recognize their own doors out.