We’ve just adopted new puppy. She’s been home for nine days and when she first arrived she spent her time either being completely awake and very lively, or completely conked out. She’s desperately cute, and we’re sleep deprived.
As anyone who has a new puppy knows, when they come home what used to be ordinary life goes out of the window.
This disruption of our ordinary schedules made me think about my attachment to plans and outcomes.
There are times when I want to be quiet and she wants to play. There I times when I want to work and she wants to play. There are times when I’m ready to play, or go out and show her the world and she is flopped over on one side and fast asleep.
We’re slowly getting to know each other’s needs and routines, and I’m learning how completely her needs cut across my plan for the day. How used to following my own agenda I’d become!
In my life I have plenty of aims and objectives: things like some writing in the morning, lunch at lunchtime, a nap in the afternoon, and a few clients each day.
In my work with clients I aim to be completely agenda-less.
When I investigate that intention more deeply I find that it isn’t completely true. My agenda is to keep my clients best interests at heart without really knowing what that looks like.
I have a general sense that healing trauma is a good thing to do. So that’s an agenda. I also know that what healing looks like is different for each person, and that healing needs to happen in the clients’ time — not in my time.
So there is an aim, and there is aimlessness. Aimlessness is often considered a negative thing in today’s world. But the aimlessness that I’m talking about includes paying attention, keeping curious and staying warm towards the client.
It’s easier to do this with clients than in my own life. With clients I have an agreed plan of when and where to meet, and for how long, and for that time my own aims and agendas can be put down. Most of the time, anyway. When my needs do make themselves known in a session I can ask them to wait until later when I can attend to them…
…and that can become useful information in the therapy process. Maybe I’ll write another article about working relationally that dives a little deeper into that another time.
My life isn’t bounded in the way a therapy session is, and sometimes I really want to do things my way. However most of the time it’s probably good for me to bring this kind of aimlessness into my own life as well — can I have the best of intentions for myself and the puppy, and everyone else —and let go of knowing what that looks like?
This letting go of knowing requires a little faith. It requires trust in something beyond my own selfish needs.
Buddhism calls this the unconditioned. Other faiths and philosophies have different names. Julien of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
So what is the goal of goal-less therapy? To enter into trusting that all shall be well, without knowing what that looks like, and to trust that coming into closer more compassionate relationship with ourselves is healing, without knowing where that healing may lead.
And the goal of a goal-less life? The same.