THE SUM TOTAL
Updated: Jul 15
In my line of work, I have been blessed to get to know so many individuals. I believe that therapy is a collaborative effort between the therapist and the client. I have often shared with my clients that I am not only a teacher, but I am a student. Meaning that it would be pompous for me to assume that I was an expert in their life and the decisions that they had to make. I have a full understanding that my clients are the captain and I am a co-captain in their therapy journey. No matter the position that you find yourself in, whether it be a professional relationship or a friendship, remember to be teachable.
One day a young man that I have worked with off and on for several years, said to me, “Bernadette, we are the sum total of how well we have been loved.” I thought, YES! That is a perfect way to explain where our self-love, self-esteem, and internal dialog comes from. In our life, souls we have many individuals that will walk with us our entire lives and will put a lifetime of emotional footprints on our souls, for good or bad. Others will visit for a season of our life and have just as a big impression on us. I want you to consider, if you will, the statement that my client said to me. If you agree with that statement, then know that you will also add or subtract to someone else’s sum total of how well they have been loved.
The key to adding to the sum total of someone is to remember that they too may be fighting a battle that you know nothing about. The simplest of gestures can make all of the difference. You know what is hard? Even adding to someone’s sum total when they have hurt you. Adding to their sum total when they haven’t apologized. This does not mean staying in an emotional space where you are feeling depleted, it means learning to remove yourself with the least bit of harm. I often speak and write about doing no harm and being kind even when someone was not kind to you. What I have come to learn is that when someone is acting from a place of pain, their sum total may be much different than mine. Remembering, that it is far more important to be kind than right. I do this to remind myself that I want to be a better person than I was yesterday and leaving my ego behind does wonders for the soul.
As a side note, my brilliant client has given me permission to quote him without using his name. He said to me that he just hopes that will resonate with others in a positive way.