No doubt about it, life can be challenging at times. Friends and family, if we are fortunate enough to have them in our lives, can offer us love and support. Knowing they are there for us, that they “have our back” is truly a blessing. When it comes to those deep-seated issues and “addictions” that plague us, gifted therapists can help us gain insight and understanding, freeing us up to make healthy choices. But what happens when your friends are telling you what you want to hear and you are not sure if this is something that really requires a long term investment of your time and resources? What if you just need to talk to someone who can be objective and help you figure out what are the next steps you can take?
I am not a therapist though I did train at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy in Chicago. And in the more than thirty-five years of my career as a congregational rabbi and educator, I have spent tens of thousands of hours listening to people pour out their hearts and souls as they struggled to figure out the best path for their life journeys. You see, I believe every human being is longing for someone to listen to them. Hearing is merely a physical thing. Sound waves activate those little bones in our ear canal and messages are sent to the brain. Listening, on the other hand, is what happens when we are completely present for the other. When what they have to tell us is all that there is. When it matters to us just because they are human. It’s that simple. And for that reason, God gave us two ears and one mouth. To remind us to pay attention and listen.
Listening, not merely hearing, is the focus of my counseling work. Sometimes that is all it takes. For when people are truly heard, often for the first time in their lives, the magic of healing and new focus can begin to take place. Of course, there is also speaking. There are no stock answers to anyone’s struggles or heartaches. The secret is to speak to someone’s listening. And that is the other piece of my counseling work. This is not telling people what they want to hear; rather, it is sharing experience and wisdom, and tailoring it to precisely fit so that they can try it on and “wear it out.”
While I am open to any and all counseling conversations, the following are most often what people bring me:
Cycle of Life—birth, marriage, divorce, death, afterlife
What Do I Exist to Be? Discovering My Purpose