Most clients in therapy have been offered the good old reframe. It goes something like this: “so I hear you describe your teenager stomps around the house, ignores your requests and seems disrespectful [client nods] so I wonder if there’s anything else going on here? Could it be they’re filled with confusing feelings fuelled by raging adolescent hormones, perhaps a little unsure of themselves and their identity as things change around them so alarmingly fast?” It’s another way to look at something uncomfortable (or downright distressing) by seeing it from another perspective. More like the thousand foot view from on high than the view from the weeds on the ground. While I undoubtedly magic these from up my sleeve from time to time, there’s something deeper I want to address here.

My photo of a much-travelled and precious fridge magnet captures another level. What if what we think is true is simply the belief system we’ve developed over time, one that makes complete sense in the complex context of our lives, helping to navigate its ups and downs. What if, with a different lens, we could come up with something radically different…..a new theory, a new construct, dare I even say something counter-culture?

I’ve been delving into Eugene Gendlin’s philosophy lately, that which underpins the Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy he developed mid last century. (Which brings me a sense of “old” and “wise” as I consider how many moons ago I saw him demonstrate his art at an international conference in California).

A real world example from my own life: prior to March 2020 and the first lockdown of the pandemic, I travelled from my home in the Midlands to London every week. Every single week, with occasional exceptions for holidays. It was completely unthinkable that such a routine would change. My life centered around accommodation of this rhythm. And then, as for us all, everything changed. Had anyone said “you will stop weekly trips to London” I would have been flabbergasted. That kind of standing on your head and having a different view of the world is exactly what I’m talking about – enduring, shaping patterns of behaviour are interrupted. What if I gave up alcohol? (That was equally unthinkable all those years ago) What if I became vegetarian? (I already am, but you see my point). If we set aside the orientation we hold so dear then something new can form.

If we reach for something deeper than that which is already familiar, inviting an experiential sense, then a powerful insight may emerge, something new….the kind of felt sense insight for which we have no words. And then if we can be with this “something” without defining it or holding it in an existing construct, something even newer can come forward. A fresh adventure if you will. Something new, previously unthinkable, may emerge.

I do not attempt to explicate Eugene Gendlin’s philosophical theories (there are many who have done, for decades, I’m just starting out) but I’m fascinated in how to access this new range of openings and possibilities.  If you are too, be in touch and I’ll happily explore with you, to the best of my beginner’s ability!

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