Where do we begin? Every client engagement has to have a beginning. Every relationship (from a marriage to a friendship to an employer/employee relationship). Every party and every therapy session. Regardless of what it is we step into at any given moment, there is a beginning. Indeed, one might make an argument that there are multiple beginnings.
My colleague and I spent the better part of an hour yesterday talking about how we want to begin with a new client we will be working with. We are balancing what we know about them — as well as the stories about them we are holding based on that knowing — with what we’d like this type of engagement to feel like. It’s tricky. At least, it seems to be.
But the more I think about it, the more I come to the idea that the only place there is to begin is where we are. What’s truly tricky is that each of us is in a different place. Have 10 people in the room? You are in 10 different places. What do you do then?
I think it’s easy to get the idea that we all have to start from the same place. So we try to create processes that will “get” us all there. I know I’ve fallen for this trap, and I’ve experienced it when others do the same. But what if what we did was to acknowledge and normalize that we are all (likely) starting from different places. What if we did the work to make it okay to be in different places?
This is a part of the work of belonging, I think. Creating the space where our differences are our strengths, as well as the things that make us who we are. In a space of true belonging, we would be living from who you are, and how you see the world, is good. It’s welcome here. It adds something to what we are doing1.
There is so much to explore in these ideas. The how it is expressed and enacted is something that feels very relevant to me. It’s something that I’d like to explore with people who are in this work. I think this will be folded into a project that I’d like to get rolling on soon. More on that later. For now, where is the here that has your attention?
To be very clear: there is no place for harm. If how you are showing up is causing harm to another, that is not welcome. I’m being very specific in my language here. I’m very carefully saying “how you are showing up” and not “who you are” because I choose to believe that even those who express the most hate are not that in their true selves. There is a lot to go into here, and I’m certainly not standing for doing what many would call a very white thing — standing up for the healing of perpetrators — not at all. What I’m saying is hate and harm are not welcome. And that I choose to believe that redemption is possible, regardless of who you are.↩