Anne Lamott on what we actually need to hear….

Well said.

Often people come to this service who have been offered these pieces of advice or would-be comforting perceptions. They’ve heard them at home, from colleagues, on ‘inspirational’ sites, from a religious perspective, from therapists… this stuff pops up everywhere, in countless different guises – from the psychological/scientific to the new age spiritual, and everything in between. And whatever clothes they wear, they are mostly unhelpful – not what we need. Instead they subtly disempower and demoralize us yet further… ‘Not only am I a mess, it’s my fault I cannot somehow rise above it’.

In describing what we do need, Anne is essentially describing the core conditions: it helps:-

  • to feel someone alongside;
  • to sense that – however unacceptable we may seem to ourselves and within our other relationships – at least one person is willing to receive us exactly where and how we are, without demand and without judging;
  • to recognize that someone is giving us their full attention, and has actually understood some of our experience and our pain – personally, specifically;
  • to have a sense of our value in another’s eyes, and of our shared humanity;
  • to know that someone trusts us to find our own way, even when neither we nor they have the faintest idea what that will look like….

No matter what the experience, if we can meet it with this support, we are likely to do better. We are indeed likely to find our own ways through, in time, in strange and mysterious and even miraculous ways, big and small.

Offering another person this is not rocket science, but it is rare –  in a culture so focused on solving and fixing, so fearful of and keen to tidy away uncomfortable feeling.

Thank you, Anne (and John C Larson on Facebook for drawing the writer’s attention to Anne’s post). Loved the description of laughter as ‘carbonated holiness’, and also love the Ram Dass quotation:-

“We’re all just walking each other home.”


Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

This entry was posted in acceptance, actualizing tendency, Anne Lamott, communication, compassion, conditions of worth, congruence, consciousness, core conditions, cultural questions, emotions, empathy, empowerment, encounter, equality, friendship, gratitude, grief, human condition, humour, immanence, interconnection & belonging, internal locus of evaluation, kindness & compassion, loneliness, loss, love, natural world, perception, person centred, power and powerlessness, presence, relationship, sadness & pain, self, shaming, spirituality, tears, therapeutic growth, therapeutic relationship, trust, vulnerability and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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