During this difficult time, when all of us are scrambling to adjust to the new realities imparted on us by Covid-19, it is hard to know how to manage. For those of us who are healthcare professionals or mindcare providers, our patients and clients depend on us to manage our own lives well so that we can show up to help them with their own. That can feel like a tall order at times, especially now when each individual has to adjust to so much, so quickly.
For inspiration and guidance, I find myself turning to a question I have often considered when engaging with the world of professional sports. Throughout my life, I have observed the phenomena of top athletes who got entangled with something or other that results in a major public scandal and have had to, despite that, keep playing their sport. “How can they play so well under those circumstances?” That is the question that I have asked myself during those times. I have observed how often, sometimes even without almost any pause, these athletes go out onto their platform like royalty and play as well or better than ever. This challenges me because if, in the spirit of empathy, I imagine for a moment having to face exposure to really big public judgement and the attached chatter from every direction, the only thing that I can imagine is that I would sink uncontrollably into a downhill spiral. I imagine I would feel depleted from all roots of energy. So how can these athletes manage to continue and even thrive on the court or on the field, despite the ongoing public conversation that debates their value?
While, ultimately, I don’t know—I’m not a top athlete and have never been faced with the need to respond to an actual scandal—I do find it useful to consider how these athletes may thrive under pressure. My best guess goes something like this. First, I’m guessing that in some cases the well-paid athletes are able to limit their need to attend to a myriad of normal life needs. All that they really need to focus on is their game. That’s where they feel at home; that’s where they find their self and affirm their self. The other parts of their life are all a lessor priority.
I think there is something to gain here, especially for healers during this challenging, unprecedented time. Without judging the metaphorical athletes one way or another, I want to use this hypothesis as a challenge for myself to fully extend my focus, when it’s time to do so, on the one thing that is my game, my thing, the place where I am at home. For me, that one thing is sitting with the person who comes to me for counseling.
There isn’t a lot that is within my control right now, but I can decide that for the duration of my session with a client there is no place I would rather be, or should be. I can decide that for the length of that session, all is right with the world, because I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’ve trained to do, following my heart’s calling. I can focus on how, within that time period, my whole existence must be involved, attentive, aware, engaged—my brain, eyes, hands, body, soul and heart. I can decide to be fully present to offer, hear, understand and share from my gut to be with the other person and their pain without judging them. I can decide to offer a word of advice and direction that is for their benefit. That’s my home. And in this new time of Covid-19, I will quickly adjust to make this “visitors hostile court,” my home court. I can decide to be well, even if only for one 45-minute session at a time.
If I can do that, I trust that the other aspects of my life will also be touched and will shift away from the negative. I can trust that being collected, whole and attentive before any human being is highly contagious under any circumstance.
About Kosta Petrogeorge, LMFT, CSAT, MDiv
Rather than subscribing to the traditional adage of counseling to “meet clients where they’re at,” Kosta adheres to the saying by noted therapist, Steve Andrew, “meet clients where they dream!” Through compassion and intentional guidance, Mr. Petrogeorge helps clients identify their true desires and aspirations, which are often buried in anger, sadness, shame and confusion. More info at mindpathcare.com/staff/kosta-petrogeorge-lmft-csat-m-div/.