I was recently speaking to someone who was complaining of feeling very frustrated and stuck. It seems that no matter how much effort they made or how many different things they tried, things just don’t seem to want to change. And I found my thoughts turning to Focusing, a particular way of being with ourselves or someone else that can be a powerful catalyst for change.
Focusing was developed in the 1970’s by philosopher and psychotherapist, Dr Eugene Gendlin as a result of his asking the question, “What makes the difference between successful therapy and unsuccessful therapy?” and the answer he and his team came to formed the basis for a therapy approach known as Focusing.
Focusing is his term for what someone does when they are with themselves in a particular way and this contact, experienced through the body, not the mind, can bring insight, awareness and a sense of freshly moving forward. It’s touching new ground, exploring possibilities that you haven’t met before. This deceptively simple approach can change the way we relate to ourselves and to others, and can bring resolution to many personal and relationship issues.
The magic of Focusing seems to lie in the fact that when we can simply be with a part of ourselves without judging or wanting to change it, then something positive happens.
When we pay more attention to our internal environment we may find we’re more patient with ourselves. In a paradoxical manner we can block our own progress by making too many demands for change. If we can be more relaxed with and accepting of ourselves, even those parts that we feel get in our way, don’t be surprised when change starts to occur. Strange how we can unwittingly block the progress we are so impatient to make.
Carl Rogers, who was Gendlin’s teacher at the time he developed Focusing says,
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”