Magic Wands Change Lives!
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
Sometimes we get so focused on what we don’t want that we have no frame of reference for what we do want.
As a therapist, clients would come to see me because they were experiencing something distressing: anxiety about life transitions, frustration with a partner, conflict with a coworker. They could easily tell me what they didn’t want in those situations. We would address the concern, identify coping skills and I would educate them on what was happening from a mental health, relational health, or physiological perspective. They would nod attentively, ask questions, and we would dissect the issue, piece by piece.
When I asked them what they did want, they’d continue telling me what they didn’t want: “The anxiety around moving across the country is really affecting me. I don’t want to feel this way anymore.”
“I don’t want to revisit this same argument with my partner. It’s increasingly frustrating.” “I wish I didn’t have to deal with this conflict. It’s taking a lot of my mental energy.”
What do you notice about these statements? They all focus on what they don’t want.
Carl Jung, the renowned Swiss psychiatrist, said, “that which we resist, persists”. So, when we focus solely on what we don’t want in life, we tend to create more of it. When we identify what we do want, we create flow. When we create flow, we invite abundance.
To clarify, identifying what we don’t want provides important information. We need to know what we don’t want because it clues us into what we do want. Understanding the need or desire beneath the stressful circumstance (e.g. the don’t want) is where the gold is!
So, the question that would get my client closer to an “ah-ha” moment was “if you could wave a magic wand and change this situation/experience, what would that look/feel like?” I would explicitly state that anything and everything was on the table, no matter how outlandish it seemed. “I want this transition to be so easy that everything falls into place, and I don’t even have to think about it.”
“I want my partner to hear my point of view so deeply that we never have to have this argument again.”
“My relationships would be peaceful.”
These are things people would say. Whether or not these are “realities” isn’t the point. The point is that I wanted my clients to begin to see there was another way to relate to the experience. There was another way to think about it.
Why is thinking about it differently important? The answer is because it gives us more possibilities. Sometimes we get so hyper focused on a problem that we can’t climb our way of a paper bag. Problem-solving, forethought, planning, logic all goes out the window. By exploring what we want, we begin the inquiry process: we can practice being investigators in the mysteries of life.
My clients began to see just how powerful this practice of inquiry was. Each session they’d come in with something new; a concern about a recent health scare, feelings of insecurity, grief from a loss of a pet or loved one. Each session we’d wave the magic wand. The practice became a point of connection, sometimes even game-like. We’d laugh at the wand waving absurdities. My clients knew I was about to ask the question. They would look me dead in the eyes and say,” before you ask, I’ve already thought about it and here’s what I came up with.” We’d talk about it and fine-tune a way to make their wish a practicality.
The deeper question I’m asking here is, “how can our relationship to this situation or experience change?" I’m trying to find out if you’re willing to look at and experience this circumstance differently. Sometimes the answer is ‘no’ and that’s ok. We’re working on opening, willingness, letting go, learning something new. Essentially, we’re priming neural pathways in your brain to change so that you can build a more robust, more balanced way of being.
If you could wave a magic wand to change this situation/experience, what would that look/feel like? How would your life be different?
If this was helpful, let me know. I’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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