Counselling Articles

Beyond Healing is Desire (“Do you want to do this the hard way or the easy way?”)

We can do this the hard way or the easy way

I remember, a number of years ago, spontaneously telling a new client “We can do this the hard way or the easy way.” I meant it most earnestly and graciously, and they heard it as a genuine invitation and choice.

The hard way, I explained, would be to trace your personal history in order to create a cohesive narrative that explains why you are having the kind of life experience that you are having. We would work to unearth memories and suppressed emotions, bringing whatever buried material we could find to the surface, at each step validating the unconscious choices you made in order to secure some physical or emotional need. All of this would hopefully bring a sense of integration and satisfaction, and would pave the way for greater choice in moving forward with your life and relationship.

Or, I said, we could do it the easy way. The easy way would be to begin from the premise that every twist and turn of your life has been purposeful and legitimate, and has brought you to this moment, and in this moment there is only one pertinent question: What do you want next?

An awareness of choice

Therapy, I believe, must always hold personal choice and freedom as the ultimate goal. We do therapy in many ways, for many particular reasons, but the overarching reason is to bring choice where there was not choice; more accurately, to bring an awareness of choice where there was not an awareness of choice.

It’s critically important to keep this vision, or else the therapeutic process can veer into the weeds, becoming an endless churning of past events, emotional murkiness, sociological phenomena, and the kinds of dilemma that psychology has been fascinated with for as long as it has existed.

I like to be clear about this from the onset with any new client, and I do not assume that prolonged difficulty or hard work is necessary to illuminate personal choice.

Much of the value of therapy is found within the fabric of the relationship between client and therapist. Much emphasis has been placed upon the trust bond, and the safety this creates. I use this trust to quickly model the choice that I want my clients to experience for themselves, from within, regardless of outer conditions, including other people.

Some people, many people, are almost ready to move into a more expansive experience of personal choice and freedom, but they come to therapy with an expectation that they will have to do a lot of hard work first. I do what I can to dispel this myth, and I begin by modeling the fundamental point that I am making here: I present a choice.

How do you want to do this? Are you seeking the satisfaction of excavating the past, or of creating your future? Either is fine. You choose. But each has a different energetic signature, and you can’t embody both equally at once.

Beyond healing is desire

To heal means to “make whole”. I know that you are already whole. I see your wholeness so clearly. Would you like to skip to the next step?

Beyond healing is desire. We can go right to the part where we talk about what you want. This is where the fun begins. None of the unwanted experiences from the past need any more attention beyond what you choose to give them. All of the unwanted experiences from the past have served to sharpen your clarity about what you want for yourself now. Are you ready to move into that place?

If you accept your unconditional wholeness, then “healing” becomes irrelevant, a thing of the past. It is desire that defines your present, and your future. What kind of experience do you want to create for yourself now, as you move forward? That is the question that any therapy should be leading to, and many people who seek therapy are ready to get into that question very quickly, if given the opportunity.

The question of desire – What do you want now? What kind of life experience do you want to be creating for yourself moving forward? – leads into a joyful process of discovery, if you allow it.

Discovering your relationship to desire (to wanting… desire and wanting are synonymous) is incredibly illuminating and empowering. It might be distressing at first, to see how cut off from your own desires you have been, but this distress need not lead down the old path of lament. You can learn to pivot quickly. Rather than attending to regret or sadness or shame, you can decide to move in the direction of wanted experience.

The client I mentioned at the beginning of this writing made their choice quickly and clearly. They wanted the easy way, and we have been having a wonderful time of discovery together ever since. We sometimes reflect upon that early choice-point, upon the question I put to them, and upon the clarity of their answer. We both find great satisfaction in this story and we occasionally tell it to each other in our sessions today, appreciating the shared knowledge of having laid a path in that moment that we continue to enjoy today.

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Campbell River Marriage Counselling Justice Schanfarber

I’m a teacher, mentor, and forward-focused therapist helping people understand and befriend themselves completely. Over ten years experience serving clients worldwide. Email to request a client info package.

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