No man can reveal to you but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge. The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his own wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

— Khalil Gibran, The Prophet


My greatest joy is to help others identify the growth already budding in their own inner knowing. In that regard we are all teachers and learners, there is no hierarchy. We each have different energy bodies and different kinds of intelligence. We need each other. We need to discover our unique place in the universe. For me it is a great honor to be asked to work with another person as they find their way in the world. I believe we all arrive with a soul's plan and when we go off course, we experience symptoms that are purposeful, and when honored have the potential to draw us back to our way on the path. I believe we are much more than a set of DSM5 descriptors. To label is to limit what is possible. After all my years working in the University of Nevada Medical School, I fundamentally think psychology and counseling should not use diagnostic categories derived from a medical orientation. Instead we should assist the client to look at his or her whole life in context. What in the child was natural, wanting to develop? How was that child nurtured or not nurtured, to develop his/her potential? Can we help adults re-discover the stepping stones of their lives with roads taken and roads not taken? Can we discern a thread of fate and destiny unfolding? For me, we are each in a process of initiation at each developmental stage. We are asked to risk, to invent, to step up to the challenge, to empower ourselves BEING human.

One of my favorite pieces of writing for therapists and doctors was done by Dr. Naomi Remen. If we embodied her ideas, we would all experience an honoring and renewal in therapy rather than thinking of ourselves as special or being so needed that we give up our own life force.

If helping is an experience of strength, fixing is an experience of mastery and expertise. Service, on the other hand, is an experience of mystery, surrender, and awe. A fixer has the illusion of being causal. A server knows that he or she is being used and has a willingness to be used in the service of something greater, something essentially unknown. Fixing and helping are very personal; they are very particular, concrete and specific. We fix and help many different things in our lifetimes, but when we serve we are always serving the same thing, the wholeness and mystery of life.

Service rests on the basic premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose. Fundamentally, helping, fixing, and service are ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak, when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. From the perspective of service, we are all connected: All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing. Fixing and helping are the basis of curing, but not healing. A client may be helped by many people and fixed by others who did not recognize her wholeness. All that fixing and helping leaves our clients and ourselves "wounded" in some important and fundamental ways. Only service heals.

To seek approval is to have no resting place, no sanctuary. Like all judgment, approval encourages a constant striving. It makes us uncertain of who we are and of our true value. Approval cannot be trusted. It can be withdrawn at any time no matter what our track record has been. It is as nourishing of real growth as cotton candy. Yet many of us spend our lives pursuing it.

— Rachel Naomi Remen M.D.

When in service, one must be aware that the person served must progress in his or her own timing (seeds germinate only when the soil is ready). One should stay in balance between putting out the seeds (words) and not pulling up the seedlings. Furthermore, motivational interviewing has taught us to respond to change talk brought up in the clients' own words. We are not to respond to sustain talk that keeps a client stuck. So often, we therapists become discouraged if things don't progress the way we see fit. Truth is, we can give what we have to give, but each client is responsible for using what feels true and letting the rest go as chaff in the wind. Narrative therapy has a great way of conceptualizing the problem outside the clients themselves, helping them work out a new story about their life experiences. Change comes from the clients' own readiness and their inner knowing.

Many times, I've been told years later that a session had been helpful to someone. Other times, when I think I've done a stellar job, it has not helped at all. Thus we must live with no judgment, no comparisons, no need to understand.

A thistle,
releasing seeds.

This is a time to give back.

The thistle is mature,

Seeds germinate only
where the soil is ready.

All you have to do
is release them.

No judgement, no comparisons,
no need to understand.

— Linda W. Peterson, 1999

This is your journey, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. Here are 18 truths to inspire, motivate and remind you that you aren't confined by the boundaries others impose on you. You are in full control of your own life, starting today.

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