No doubt you are thinking to yourself, 'well, that can mean almost anything really', and you would certainly not be wrong in that assumption. But if you dig a little deeper, beyond the obvious dimension of life which is money, good looks, popularity or any of the other 'surface' desires that we as humans strive for, there is just one absolute, fundamental, primal desire that we all have, and that is, to be validated as a person.
So how then, do we find our world filled with so many people and so many of 'us' or 'them' that are not satisfied with their lot in life or find it difficult to seek that contentment even though the boxes they wanted ticked, are? (You know, the clothes, bags, cars, houses.....that 'stuff').
Let me share a real story - a story of how this primal sense of meaning something to someone, came to light recently, in such a fundamental and authentic way.
I have been working with a patient who has been mentally ill for over 30 years...he was first diagnosed at 14 and now in his late 40's, is living with a number of labels; schizophrenia, complicated grief, depression, anxiety, anger issues, bi-polar...and the list goes on.
His ability to regulate emotions and even small processing of thought is compromised due to decades of drugs which in turn has affected his ability to look after his wellbeing such as diet and exercise. a snowball effect of one thing affecting another.
I was given his case a little while ago to add to his already broad support services that include psychiatric care, psychologist support as well as other allied health workers. His case leader shared that he was in need of 'connecting' with people and although he has many that are in his 'package' the ability to 'connect' was the main message that I received from the case worker.
So, what did this mean to this client?
In the early stages of the therapy sessions, it was all about whether he felt that I believed him...believed his anger, his pain, his need to express that life was so hard and he was so tired that every two weeks he would say out loud that he wanted to end his life.
Did and do I believe him? Absolutely! You can never take lightly the threat of suicide but what I did find out as our sessions progressed, was that his 'expression' of killing himself, wanting to hurt those that he felt were not nice to him or were racist, was actually a cry for something else.
His need to express himself so violently is a platform for him to express his deeper pain and that pain, was the need to be loved and validated by others. All he wants, is for another person to just give him a hug and care for him.
I have to say, I was so saddened and deeply touched that he felt he could share that with me...he cried and cried, and, in the end, he thanked me for not judging him and for understanding that his 'mouth' was his most dangerous weapon...not the words that he was saying, but the extreme way he needed to express himself so that he could be heard.
And I heard him.
Such a small gift of unconditional regard, no judgement or questions - just allowing him to be him and giving him a platform to feel safe and heard and to be acknowledged that he is a person worthy of being listened to. Our social relationships contribute so much to how we feel about ourselves, how we project ourselves and how we respond to others...when in pain and isolated, messages of pain are sometimes the only thing left to share.
I love my job - I love this industry - the ability, in the smallest of ways to impact a life so deeply, just by being real, authentic and honest and genuinely having the compassion and empathy for someone so that they know another human is caring and thinking about their wellbeing.
Such a privilege.