I loved doing this session with a new client, Robin. Afterwards he very kindly said I could put it on my site (I didn’t even ask, he just offered!) It contains many useful learnings about monsters
One: Some monsters – even really big, old, hurtful monsters – are just acting out of habit. They don’t have any real emotional resistance to change, it just hasn’t occurred to them to think about it.
Two: When they do think about it, they can resolve their issues very quickly. This session was over before I knew it. The monster was all ready to curl up and go to sleep, and I was still talking on because I couldn’t believe it was that easy!
Three: Never assume there’s not a monster!
Robin told me he was feeling apathetic and a lot of things seemed pointless to him, including his job working with children. He often found himself having no reaction when children were literally beating him up. As we talked, it became clear that his job was a big problem for him, and I started to assume it was the whole problem – he didn’t need a monster whisperer, he just needed a new job! Then he told me why he wasn’t reacting when children beat him up:
Robin: its becuse the way i want to react if i did would be considered inapropriate.. i would most likely curse at them a lot and humiliate them that way or even beat them up if that dont work. but i know i cant do that. i would reget it quickly and im not that malicious.
Me: oh, ow
it seems like you feel so angry at those times, and you can’t see any way to express it that would be okay or acceptable
so you shut off your reaction because that’s less painful, right?
Robin: i guess i dont know i been bulied and depresed a lot in the past. and been in situations when i cant do anything about it. like living whit my moms horrible boyfireinds. or having a bad job. not having any choice on what to do. Well there is always a choice but usally its better to do nothing about it.
Me: oh, that sounds so painful
so maybe you have a monster called ‘There’s No Choice’ or ‘Do Nothing’
both would be correct
Wow. So there I was assuming we had a simple case of ‘wrong job’, and suddenly it turned out to be a huge painful issue going right back to childhood. This was bound to take a lot of work to resolve, right? Again, wrong assumption…
No Choice/Do Nothing: hello
Me: hello <3 and thank you for agreeing to talk to me
you’re completely accepted here, I’m not going to force you to change or tell you off for being the way you are I’m just here to listen to your story and see if I can help you
(and I do mean ‘help’ not ‘force’
No Choice/Do Nothing: thats fine
so I gather you’ve seen Robin go through a lot of painful situations where there didn’t seem to be any choice or any way out, am I right?
No Choice/Do Nothing: for manny years yes
Me: how do you feel about that?
No Choice/Do Nothing: sad
Me: poor monster, I so feel your pain
it must be very sad watching Robin suffer when you care about him so much
No Choice/Do Nothing: i guess i dont really what to think about it to painfull
Me: okay, well, like I said, nobody is going to force you to do anything here, and if this conversation gets too painful for you, you are always welcome to stop it
No Choice/Do Nothing: its finne
Me: thank you
so I’m guessing that if you don’t want to think about this no-choice thing because it’s too painful, you also don’t want Robin to think about it
maybe you want to protect him from the pain by stopping him from thinking about it?
No Choice/Do Nothing: distractions are a good way
Me: okay, this sounds interesting, could you tell me about distractions and how you use those to protect him?
No Choice/Do Nothing: no sorry
Me: it’s okay, no need to be sorry do you not feel safe to tell me?
No Choice/Do Nothing: i just dont want to rigth now, maybe latter
Me: that’s fine, later is fine, never is fine too, this is your space and your time
so, here’s what we’ve got so far
you’ve observed that Robin’s been in lots of situations where he didn’t seem to have any choice
and you’ve seen him suffer pain because of that and you feel very sad about it
so you’re trying to protect him from the pain by making sure he doesn’t think about how little choice he has
so I guess the next question to ask is – what makes you think he has so little choice?
No Choice/Do Nothing: its ussles anyway. and he already knows he has choice. but it does not matter. i take the pain away thats all.
Me: I see, so your role is just to take the pain away, not to analyse the situation or do anything about it
No Choice/Do Nothing: yes
I’m seeing a lot of different things wrapped up in what you’ve just said, I’d like to understand them a bit better so I can help you
are you saying that he knows he has choice, but the choice is useless and it doesn’t matter?
like, he CAN choose but it wouldn’t do him any good, so it’s better to do nothing?
No Choice/Do Nothing: It depends on the situation. sometimes it migth get even worse if he did do something. And there has been many such situations. although i admit it might no longer be the case now.
Me: that’s interesting because I was just wondering if now might be different from then
could you tell me a bit about those situations in the past?
then maybe we can see if there are ways in which now is not then
No Choice/Do Nothing: The first time probably was when he was in 7th grade then it was neseriy for survival. although his emotions where not blocked per say. but after that it was only more and more difficult situations. to feel nothing was the best way to get over depresion to be indiffrent.
Me: was it necessary for survival because he was being bullied so badly, and if the bullies saw him reacting emotionally, they would hurt him worse?
No Choice/Do Nothing: no he would either kill himself. or kill all the bullies. they did not hurt him pysically. ints not like it was only a few peolple it was an entire class and a bunch of random people.
Me: omg, my heart goes out to both you and Robin
No Choice/Do Nothing: constantly every day.
Me: that must have been so incredibly painful, and he must have been SO angry
so shutting down his emotions really was a survival strategy for you then, it really was life and death
not only life and death for him, but for the children around him too
no wonder it matters SO much to you to hang on and keep doing this, I mean you must have been terrified for him
and I’m sure some of that fear is coming up again now when you see him once again surrounded by children who are attacking him
am I right?
No Choice/Do Nothing: not really
Me: okay, please tell me what’s really going on for you <3
No Choice/Do Nothing: Its not the same situation
No Choice/Do Nothing: its just a habit at this point.
i have not thought about it.
Me: I understand <3 because it’s been painful to think about, right?
No Choice/Do Nothing: its not like i think much to begin whit. im mostly reactional.
Me: you’re just there to make the pain go away
No Choice/Do Nothing: i suppouse
Me: okay, here’s the thing
No Choice/Do Nothing: i do feel like let go a bit after talking to you.
Me: I’m so glad <3 I think you letting go a bit could actually help him, as well as make life
easier for you
what is it that you really want for Robin? Even if you think it’s impossible for him to have it, what would you want for him if anything was possible?
No Choice/Do Nothing: a girlfriend <3
Me: aw!!! I wasn’t expecting that
well, good news I think it’s very possible for you to help him with that, AND you can do it just by trying LESS hard (like you said, letting go a bit)
No Choice/Do Nothing: hm.. ok ill try maybe.
see, in order to get a girlfriend, he needs to be able to see that he has choices (like choosing to ask a girl out on a date, even though it might hurt if she says no) and he needs to be able to see that sometimes it’s worth doing something
and like you said, now is not then
Robin isn’t a small, desperately unhappy and bullied child who needs your constant help just to survive
No Choice/Do Nothing: true… but he never was weak to begin whit. people just tend to be mistaken and take advantage of his kindness. when he is probebly the strongest one i know.
Me: oh wow, I’m so happy to hear you say that, and I’m sure he’d be really happy to hear you say that too
so are you ready to let go a bit and let this strong person make his own choices, and do things?
No Choice/Do Nothing: i already have i just wanted to be acknowledged.
Me: oh!!! thank you so much!! I’m really happy
I guess we’re done here then, do you have anything more to say, or would you like to go and relax now?
No Choice/Do Nothing: Im a bit tired now…. no i dont really want to say anything more
Me: all right, you go and rest so much love to you
No Choice/Do Nothing: bye
Me: okay! Robin, welcome back, how are you feeling now? <3
Robin: good. a bit warm in the chest.
(I had to include that last bit… proof that monster talks can be literally heartwarming )