January 22, 2023 — Lawrence Sharrett, M.Ed, M.Div., MSc

Be Still & Notice (Reflections & Research Edition)

Three Things (EI, Childhood, & Identity) Leading to Four Things (Noticing, Naming, Blaming, & Shaming)

There is a pattern that seems to hold true for individuals and communities. There are three broad categories that seem to be prevalent for most, if not all, clients seeking mental health support or leadership development growth. The challenges that arise all seem to stem from one or more of the following areas of one’s personal life:

1) Emotional intelligence (emotional awareness and regulation)

2) Childhood experiences and established pathways from early life experiences (family of origin)

3) Autonomy (identity, attachment, purpose, confidence, and esteem)

When people have a “presenting problem” that brings one to counseling, or when people reflect on life experiences and challenges, they will discover that the things that constrict one’s authentic personal and professional development (even if it has not yet been noticed and named), is related to one, two, or all three of the aforementioned categories.

So if this is true, then what? That’s where the step of professional counseling “walks alongside” one’s attempts of stepping out of self-blame and shame.

Reductionist attempts (offering simple steps) to solve life’s problems go against existential, person-centered approaches to therapy. Reductionistic approaches are all too prevalent in some professions that expect quick fixes to complex problems.

On the contrary, the essence of person-centered therapy is to help a person “experience” without trying to slap a list of strategies on their life problems. It seems counterintuitive at times for our problem-solving mindsets. The process takes time and looks different for each individual. But if one tried to simplify the process into progressive categories, one might cautiously suggest a list such as this:

1) Notice
2) Name
3) Blame
4) Shame

Notice (not ignore) the challenge, name what it is, blame and identify the recognized sources (something of an ongoing life list), and then step out of the associated shame with the self-critical challenges (the hardest part for any individual to reach).

A suggested way to start for oneself, or for those working to help others, is a nonjudgmental “be still and notice” observation that usually happens in quietness. Enjoy finding your own and helping others find their own quiet noticing, naming, blaming, and stepping out of the shaming.