Never before in her counselling career had Allen witnessed a fuming client before.
Hannah, a middle-aged woman sat before her at first with inhibition and reserve.
In no time, she started to vent out in a loud emotional tone. Justifying every action of her life with impatient clarification.
Allen could read in between her lines, Hannah cared too much about others.
She wanted everything perfect around her.. clean, organised house, successful children, an obedient partner…her control over everything.
Allen lost the colour on her face. The thought of convincing a short-tempered, angry and straight forward client put her in an uncomfortable situation.
However, she had to pull the end of the thread of hope somehow, which she reluctantly did.
‘I appreciate the fact that you are very honest, you are sharing your feelings without any fear or self doubt’. Allen continued.
‘Do you feel it is sometimes the competition around, the comparisons made, the unrealistic expectations to be better, rich, smart and admired that is an added pressure above everything else?’
‘It indeed is, I see my shortcomings, my failures, my lack of commitment from the kids, my out of proportion body, my unfulfilling job. All of which makes me eat more, shout more, get angry more and then feel the guilt of being shallow and mean’. Hannah remarked, this time in a low defeated tone.
‘Unfortunately’, Allen continued, ‘contemporary superficial time has given us wrong projections not good for our mental health. It is making us overly attached to the fake, unbelievable shadow of deceit.’
‘I worry a lot, what if my child doesn’t do well in his exam, what’s if his life is ruined. I am losing my figure, my youth, my beauty, what’s if my partner rejects me. The norms of society are a stress. To look slim and curvy, independent and successful, happy and blessed.. a complete no no equation’. Hannah answered with disappointment in her voice.
Allen could tell she had found one end of the thread called fear. Hannah wanted to escape the negative, to silence everything imperfect with her loud voice, to hide the denial of failure.
‘Hannah, you are one strong woman suffering through your fears, it takes great courage and perseverance. I must give you the credit… however, not all failures are bad. Some also lead to a better understanding, like the pain and trauma we go through in gym gives us good overall health benefits.’
Allen stopped for a moment, ‘have you ever taken any sport Hannah, the art of climbing on a perilous mountain, the skill of swimming fastest to the finish line or running in a race jumping through all hurdles… life is somewhat like that.. take the failures as hurdles, one at a time.. just pause, make a plan, muster up courage and jump; when you cannot avoid them altogether’.
Hannah looked pale. As if her secret was read out loud. For a moment she looked agitated and then continued. ‘My anger issues, I will always find a reason to be angry, it’s an automated response, I feel compelled to find perfection through authotity’.
Allen answered very politely this time, ‘it means your brain is too sharp, vigilant and responsive, sometimes it overly indulges itself to protect you, from an underlying presumed danger. How about you tell it you are in charge by a delayed reaction. By changing your position, by taking time to sit down, sip water or look away. How about a deep breath and controlled calm voice’.
’How’? Hannah asked.
‘We can practice, how about you walk out before elders to avoid disrespect, talk a moment later with youngsters when you are all out of the anger bubble. Whenever you can communicate how you feel; being open about your worries and insecurities makes one a charismatic person.’ Allen paused.
’Besides, Not everything needs to be addressed straight away, not everything is a battle’. Allen stopped.
Hannah took a moment to reflect before adding, ‘I understand I am overly attached to my family, my position and society, I sometimes need to let go in order to win over myself again’.
Allen liked the progress, Hannah was ready to take from there. So she decided to conclude.
’Just remember Hannah, The trick to live happy in this consumer product society of social media is to care less. To worry only what is most important, most worthy.’
‘We will discuss about it in the next meeting’. Allen concluded.
Hannah got up reluctantly, happy for being listened to, being understood without any judgement. ‘Thank-you, I guess I have homework to start with straight away,’ she smiled and left.
Allen sat there, wondering how all the threads come back to a common ground, of not being enough, not being close to the deceitful assumption of being great. She took a pen out to write in Hanna’s file.
‘Do we all need to lose a part of our self every time to prove our worth?’ She wrote.
’In reality, the world will be the same, some will like, others will hate us for the same reasons. We will always be honey to some and poison for others’.
Then why care? Why worry? She thought.
People suffer when they lack.
They also suffer when they have everything.
They suffer without children,
Without ideal job,
With fulfilling job.
Running behind the approval of everyone, is a curse, a misery. It leads everyone but one’s self in a an un happy state with blurred boundaries.
Allen put her pen down and closed the file, happy to feel completely honest.
She had learnt something herself that day, that the difference in animals and humans is in the instinctive control of their animal drives. For which soul provides that power, of love, forgiveness and kindness. In order to attain that one needs to keep the eyes open and mouth shut.
After all, a humble bee has knowledge and skill that a mighty, roaring bear lacks.