I currently have the absolute honour of working with a range of gorgeous young people who are coping with challenging life situations.
For example, one is a 10 year old girl who has been bullied through primary school and has been told it will continue into secondary school; another is a 15 year old girl who has been beaten up three times by the same people, who wait outside school for her and whisper to her when she’s in school that she’ll be beaten up again soon; another is a 15 year old girl who was ridiculed by her boyfriend who dumped her loudly and purposefully in front of a full refectory of her peers; a 12 year old lad who has been targeted by a whole year group and was recently watched by the whole class as he went to take a drink from his water bottle - to find the water had been switched with urine (everyone knew but him); I could continue but you get the idea.
The joy of being available to listen to anything these people want to say to me and to bask in their natural glow is a privilege. But this blog isn’t about me, it’s about them and the Aha! moments that show up for them.
Often they don’t even want to talk about the incident that has occurred. They might want to talk about a lack of ‘real’ friends, or not fitting in, or feeling lonely or isolated. Sometimes they don’t even want to talk at all - sometimes I talk, sometimes we draw, sometimes we play games. Whatever feels right in the moment. But I always show up and I always give them my undivided attention. We read the book ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret?’ together (I wrote it so I can plug it all I like!), especially when they appear caught up in their feelings of fear and anxiety. It’s a great way to start a conversation.
In this blog I want to focus on two of the young people I have mentioned here, and their Aha! moments which tickled through.
The 15 year old who has been beaten up three times was only able to contribute in our sessions by shrugging her shoulders and saying she didn’t know… but she always arrived for every session on time and remembered what we had talked about previously (a good sign!). She did not attend classes, instead she stayed in Student Services. She never, ever walked across the school campus at a time when students were moving between classes; she would choose to hide in the toilet until the campus was empty and then travelled across school.
However, like a flower, she started to open up. She started to respond with opinions and tell me about some good things that had happened. Her wisdom started to show through little cracks and when it did, boy, did it shine out. She loved the idea of owning her own power and recognising that the people doing this to her were caught up in their own swirling thought-storm of confusion and worry. In our penultimate session she said “I understand that they can’t hurt me. They can say things and they can beat me, but they can’t stop me.” (Aha!)
In our final session this week, she turned up wearing her glasses. She said she didn’t know why but she felt more confident (Aha!), she said she should be able to wear her glasses and no one was going to stop her (Aha!), she said that she even turned to some girls in class, looked them in the eye and said that they should say whatever they were saying about her to her face (Aha!). She’s attended every class this week instead of sitting in Student Services (Triple Aha!)
The 10 year old girl who has been bullied through primary school has been too afraid to leave her house and ended up staying in her room, as she felt safest there. She did not speak up in class and said she felt lonely.
By guiding her to her innate wisdom, her clarity, her gorgeous diamond already there, she started to see that her personal thinking about Thought constantly passing through her was exhausting and she started to see that her fear of this ‘bully’ was holding her back (Aha!). We talked about lots of situations where her thinking about the fear that something might happen stopped her doing the things she wanted to do. She began to see that her assumptions about what might happen in the future did not turn out to be what did actually happen (Aha!).
Our sessions are not finished yet and recently she joined her School Council. She started to speak up in class, then accompany another pupil to go into other classes, then she started to talk in other classes … this evolution all within four weeks! In our session this week she told me that she presented a power point to the WHOLE school on the School Council’s work and then met with the headteacher to discuss their proposed changes.
She says she now feels so much more focused in school. I asked what has happened? She said “oh, XXXX isn’t on my mind anymore, I’m just not thinking about her anymore.” (Quadruple Aha!)
So what has happened? Neither of them seem aware of having any major insights into their experience of life, but they both seemed to think about the situation less and less. They have not done anything. They have not changed their thinking, or only thought positive thoughts.
They have seen that they are much, much more than any thinking in any moment. They are not getting so caught up in thinking anything is their fault or that the circumstances around them can dent, break or diminish their strength and resilience. When this naturally started to happen, they were experiencing a sense of space for new thought and perceptions to drop in, bringing new ideas and options.
And the days when they did feel caught up in old, habitual thinking – they knew that was okay too (Aha!)
To observe these girls flourish has been very special. Next is the perceptions of the parents: when I fed back to both sets of parents they said something along the line of “oh, but I’m so afraid it’ll all happen again and she’ll become anxious and depressed again’. A natural fear as a parent.
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