So how are the “yes, but’s” impacting the quality of our lives. Do they influence how we feel in any given moment? Do they impact our relationships? Our identity? How does the negative focus influence how therapists work with clients? What happens to the level of hope and optimism?
In my opinion, this focus on the problem is sabotaging our ability to enjoy our lives. As a therapist, it has caused me to lose hope and feel burned out. When all you can see is a depressed person with several years of dysfunctional relationships, low self-esteem, and a pessimistic attitude about his/her future, it is almost near impossible to maintain hope.
So I’ve decided to start focusing on the positives! I strongly believe that people are not their problems. A person can be taken over by depression, but she is not a depressed person at her core. A child may be controlled by temper tantrums, but he is not an aggressive child. A woman may be tortured by anorexia, but she is not just an anorexic. These people and all of us have alternative storylines. The woman suffering from depression has exhibited several incidents in which she stood up to depression. For one, she sought out therapy in order to feel better. She also went to work every day even when depression attempted to keep her in bed. The child with temper tantrums came from an abusive home in which he was left alone for days at a time. The temper tantrums allowed him to be seen and heard as a human being with needs. The woman who had been consumed by anorexia was originally intending to gain control over her body after being sexually abused.
There is always a more positive way of seeing a situation. With every person I’ve worked with, there have been countless examples of rebellion against the problem. There have been many experiences in which the problems were forced into the corner or out of the room completely. These are the stories I seek to find in everyone. It never ceases to amaze me when I see someone so distraught over a long-standing problem with depression who smiles when she realizes that there have been times without the depression’s influence. When she recognizes that those times have all occurred based on her strength and determination, a sense of lightness and excitement can be seen in her eyes. Focusing on the positive may be all it takes to create a sense of hope and belief in oneself, and therefore the power to kick that problem to the curb.