While clearing physical spaces to make them more functional I, of course, started wondering about applying the principles of simplification to other areas of life. Learning. Exercise. Relationships. What should stay and what should go? What — and maybe even ‘who’ — is reciprocal and essential?
I got there by way of a fairly logical flow. Interested in the history and development of helping relationships, a friend has decided she wants some of my older conference notes and handouts. I’m not sure what she plans to do with them, but I’m happy they’re finding a second life. Most of the time I’m able to take a quick look and add them to whatever box I’m filling for her. (I send other things for other projects.) But this time, something caught my eye.
Setting a Theme for the Day
The program was for M.D.s, PhDs and other addiction professionals. Every morning and every evening we gathered as a large group; typically the morning speakers set a theme for the day before we headed off into varied study tracks. The theme of the day was the healing power of relationships. The scribble that jumped off the page said, “physicians who adopt a warm, friendly and reassuring manner are more effective than those who keep consultations formal and do not offer reassurance.” The speaker went on to show us data from reinforcing studies, acknowledging that while skills are important, the most significant factor in a healing relationship is the relationship itself.
Intense suffering can be physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional. When in the depths of that sort of pain, the sufferer needs someone they trust. Whether a person (or an animal) is suffering from physical, mental, or emotional pain it makes sense that they will seek relief from someone who is genuinely interested in their recovery and overall well-being.
Seeking Relief in Trusting Relationships
I’ve experienced this from both ends of a clinical relationship and know that my willingness to accept advice is directly related to the degree to which I feel the practitioner knows what’s going on with me. As a practitioner, I asked a lot of questions to make sure we were on the same page. I believe that level of interest and investment — or lack thereof — is something we can all feel. I know my dog can.
Yesterday Alex had surgery. He had been droopy for several days. At first I attributed it to the heat but, eventually looked inside of his mouth where I found some issues worthy of a vet visit. Turns out he had some things that needed to be addressed and yesterday was his day.
Unlike one of my German Shepherd dogs, Alex LOVES going to the veterinarian’s office. As far as he’s concerned, it’s a girl gang created simply to fuss on him. They get on the floor with him. They serve up way too many cookies. They talk to him. His little tail wags so fast he looks as if he’s trying to fly. It’s clear that they love him — and he loves them right back. I’m sure the fact that there’s no stress associated with his visits helps any healing he needs to do.
I remember more from the conference. One of the instructors talked about congruence: when what a person believes agrees with their actions. Living ones values. Being authentic. Walking the talk.
That’s where Alex comes in again. We brought him home from surgery and set up a little space for him near the couch. It was great — until I got off the couch to do something else. Despite still being sedated, he insisted on going with me. He has such trust. He knows I’ll take care of him. And that he’s going to be OK. There’s a sense of optimism and peace between us as well as a serious lack of sleep for one of us. But the gift is that we’re on track to transform hurt into healing. And isn’t that what happens in most close relationships? What kind of clutter needs to be cleared away to make it so?
Hi there. It’s easy to tweet about this.While skills are important, the most significant factor in a healing relationship is the relationship itself. Click To Tweet