I don’t have many “rules” for my office, but I do try to stick to some guidelines. These guidelines are more things that my clients simply hear me say often to create what I hope is a comfortable and therapeutic atmosphere!
Here are some words that I do not allow in my office. If you say these words I will be sure to stop you and if I accidentally slip up and say one of these, please stop me!!
“Normal”. No one is normal, I wish that this word did not even exist! The actual definition of this word is: Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. If you ask me, I don’t want to conform to standards! Who makes these standards? Who decides what is normal and what is abnormal? Everyone has their own version of normal and we should be striving for what we want, not for what we think is normal. The bottom line is if we try to be normal, we will never succeed because I don’t think that anyone is truly “normal”.
“Should”. Another word that makes me shudder every time I hear it! The definition of this word is: Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions. I was happy to find out that the word “criticize” is in the definition because that is exactly why I don’t like the word, it feels very critical! It’s also similar to the word normal in that who decides what we should and should not do?!
“You”. This is more related to couples therapy but it is important to look at how often we use that phrase. How often we are blaming other people by saying “you did this, you are that, etc.” rather than looking at ourselves. We can’t change other people so it’s a waste of time trying! (I’ll talk about this more in my next blog post: “If everyone else is nuts then why am I the one in therapy?” so stay tuned!)
Here are some things that I encourage in my office:
Swearing. Please swear. I definitely do not encourage swearing in children nor do I encourage swearing when fighting with others or anything like that. This being said, being in counseling is a time to let our feelings flow freely without fear of being judged or without holding back our true emotions. Often, people’s true emotions come out in the form of swear words and that’s totally okay! It shows how passionate you are about something. Plus, if we talk in a prim and proper way would that really get our true feelings out?
Crying. I know it’s a bit cliché, but crying is a true release of emotions. Someone once described crying to me as a way of being alive. When I asked further, they explained that when a baby is born, if the baby is not crying, the doctor will often “slap” the baby to get it to cry…why do they do this? To make sure the baby is alive. Crying has and always will be a sign that we are alive! There have also been studies that have proven that there are stress hormones in tears which prove that crying literally releases stress. Have you ever cried and just felt relieved? That’s why!
Laughter. I think people often think of therapy as very serious which it often can be. That being said, I think it can also be a time to be silly and laugh! I think laughter can help build relationships and reminds ourselves that we can’t take life too seriously!
The purpose of these “rules” is not to have rules for my office like being in grade school, but rather to begin to notice the things we say all the time that really hurt us! Being aware of how we’re talking about ourselves is a great first step to improve the way we see and talk about ourselves!