Recently I have been looking at the way I interact with people, my clients, my work colleagues, my mentors, my wife and my children. I am a great listener and that comes across when someone is speaking to me and I suppose that’s a good thing if you are doing counselling of any kind. However I have noticed that I am also quite impatient with certain types of people, particularly anybody who is energy draining, you know the type of people who think everything is a hassle and the whole world is against them and nothing ever goes right for them ,it infuriates me to be around people like this and usually I avoid them like the plague. However, recently I thought about what people like this have to teach me. I recently had a chance to talk to someone like this in depth and had to hold it together long enough to ask myself ‘what is this person teaching me about myself?’ and the next question is ‘What am I teaching them about themselves?’. The answers were quite surprising to me.
What is this person teaching me about myself?
I am intolerant of negative people – wow!, what a revelation (sarcastic tone there) , how is this relevant? Well, I do counselling work for a living and being intolerant of certain types of people is not a good thing and that will come across to the person who is talking to me.
What am I teaching them about themselves?
If someone who has a dark outlook on life is talking to me and I am giving them vibes that I don’t like talking to them this is going to re-enforce their belief about themselves that nobody likes them, the world is a dark place etc etc.
What I did to change
I looked at the person in a different light. That person was there to teach me patience, to teach me tolerance and I had to remind myself of that. I was there to ask him a simple question ‘Why is your world so dark?’
This is exactly the question I asked him and he was taken aback when I asked that. He didn’t really think he had a dark outlook on life and it was a bit of a revelation to him as well. We spoke about it for a while and by asking that simple question he was able to change almost instantly as his perception of his world had changed. The next few sessions revealed that he had changed the way he looked at life and constantly asked himself what he would do if he was a positive person, obviously there were still dark moments but he was much more able to cope with them.
Everyone is a teacher
This was a great lesson for me and it’s one of those moments that changed a certain aspect of me for a lifetime. It’s those moments that make us grow as people and we can’t change overnight but we can have lots of a-ha moments which help to shape our lives.