I’ve realised as I’ve I spent a lot of time listening to others, there’s sometimes a strong feeling of going round in circles. One individual repeats the same story time and time again, sometimes till I know it almost as word perfect as they do.
Now in a therapy session, as in everyday life, that can get irritating and depressing.
On occasions, I have been able to reflect back to a client “I’m conscious that you tell me that story quite often – is there something important I’ve missed?”
On occasions too, I have felt that sinking feeling in my body and not expressed that sensation in any way.
In those two responses, the congruence of the former opens up the potential for the client to explore the impact of a past event on their present. The disengagement of the latter locks the client into that process of going round in circles.
I have often found myself reflecting later in my notes and in supervision on the underlying need to repeat the particular story. Wondering what else that person is communicating without directly saying it.
It may be something they haven’t identified for themselves, so the need to repeat the story continues.
It may be something they feel deep within that they are holding onto, and haven’t really engaged with.
They may even be aware of something subconsciously, and actually want or need to hold onto in order to justify present day behaviour or beliefs.
So, if I change my belief from “here we go again…I’ve heard this before…..I’m switching off” to something more along the lines of “what else is being expressed here….what am I missing…….what need is being filled by holding on to this story?”…..the process changes.
It’s no longer about going round in circles, it’s more about experiencing a spiral – each journey round is at another level, with another element to the process.
Exploring that story needs to expand into exploring the feelings and sensations attached to the story; exploring the thoughts, ideas, beliefs attached to it; exploring the needs fulfilled in the telling and re-telling; exploring the question “what do you really want to tell me?”
So at the next re-telling of the story, dare to engage with exploring the all the sensations, feelings, beliefs and needs. Reflect on the non-verbal as well as the verbal aspects of the story-telling. Be congruent.
And experience the spiral not the circle.