A slice of responsibility pie

Lessons in life

One of my favourite things about counselling is the serendipity of working through a problem or difficulty with someone only to discover there is a big lesson in there for me – a lesson that teases me out of hypocrisy and forces me to practice what I preach.

One such lesson followed on from an input from Andy on the “responsibility pie”. I was working with a client at the time who was extremely resilient but had taken on more responsibility than she could manage, her wellbeing depending on her ability to make sure everyone in her life was okay.

Rules for living and core beliefs

We talked through what she could take responsibility for in her current situation. We explored how much control she really does have in any situation and the impact of other people (and their free will and choices), of the situation and of the choices that we make (some of which are unconscious). We objectively thought about her choices and how they were impacted by her conditioning (her rules for living and core beliefs) and considered that she did not always make her choices consciously and never with bad intentions. In this way she found relief from guilt and shame and from her own expectations of herself.

The love of pie

She really identified with the responsibility pie, as an analogy and we took it to the nth degree. We discussed how much she loves pie, how much she keeps for herself – not sharing with others. This sense of being “greedy” flipped her situation on its head, it became juxtaposed with her rescuer / helper sensibilities and helped generate a discussion about empowering others by withholding our need to take responsibility.

This lesson, given to me by Andy and my speaker is helping me to share pie – to empower others and to empower myself – keeping any need for validation safely out of my practice. A client’s difficulty became a positive learning experience for the client and an opportunity for me to engage in true reflective practice, providing us both with a catalyst for growth.

Share that pie

So basically – don’t eat all the pies, sharing pie is good for everyone, but eating all the pie is okay as long as we learn from it. This is permission for us to feel less guilty and create space to be what we are inspired to do.

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