Thriving and suffering. What’s the difference?

Connection and curiosity- two of my guiding values. True, deep connection with other people, things and experiences is what ultimately this whole “life thing” is all about for me. At the end of the day, that’s what matter most. Curiosity is a quality or a lens that helps me be open minded, receptive and non-judgmental. It’s hard to be both curious and avoidant, as the very nature of curiosity is to notice and observe. Curiosity is also the lens that helps me connect. They go together for me.

My job as a therapist is so intrinsically me and allows me to connect with the things I value most. It’s a place of connection, where curiosity has to be the lens in which I come from. Because guess what? I don’t have all the answers (for myself or others). But through curiosity we ask questions, we learn and discover and wrestle and get into the mess of what it means to be human. Through the mess, things become clearer, but avoiding the mess only lends itself to continued lack of clarity. I’ve been paying attention a lot to themes throughout my work lately. Themes and qualities people posses when they are thriving, and themes and qualities people posses when they are struggling. And thriving does not mean the absence of hard times and uncomfortable emotions!

My experience is only one lens and I have began getting really curious to what other therapists have noticed in regards to themes and qualities they observe in people who report thriving and growing versus struggling. So I asked. And received lots of feedback. Thank you everyone for sharing.

Here’s what people had to say….

People who are thriving:

Practice compassion, value and have deep connections, humor, have insight and the ability to reflect, accept and make room for uncomfortable emotions, practice presence, resilient, perseverant, see obstacles as part of life, take responsibility, have a purpose (that’s specific to them), help others, faith in some higher power, curious, empathetic and take ownership of actions and emotions.

People who are suffering:

See life through one color lens, avoid certain feelings, lack understanding and awareness of their own stuff versus others, take a victim stance around their life circumstances, sense of entitlement, put too much value and truth in their thoughts, and place happiness on external factors.

Where are you feeling stuck, where do you find yourself suffering in your life? What struck you about this list? What can you practice or let go of to help shift you from a place of suffering to thriving?


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