As a Clinical Psychologist I am often asked why psychologists spend so much time asking people about their history. Asking about someone’s childhood is a cliché but there is a reason why we do it. What I’ve realised over the years as a psychologist is the more you understand where you come from and who and what shaped you, the more you’re able to understand your strengths and weaknesses and develop compassion for yourself.
It also enables you to put events in your life into perspective and understand why you might have certain challenges. That’s really the crux of how you get closer to living your ‘better life’. When you understand your narrative, you get to live the fullest expression of yourself.
I like to think of it in terms of being fully human. The human condition means we all feel a wide range of emotions. We confront challenging situations and we’ll also sometimes behave in ways we are not proud of when we look back at our life. Rather than coming from a place of punishment, we need compassion for ourselves and others.
When we are comfortable with our humanness, life becomes easier because we remove the struggle. That’s a very good thing. You know Buddhist’s have a perspective, ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’. And the suffering we experience is often because of how we judge and evaluate ourselves, our inner critic.
I’ve always had a desire to give back. I feel very fortunate in my life despite lots of challenges. I don’t ever lose sight of the gracious people in my life and the support they have given me at difficult times. I am fortunate and believe I have an obligation to give back. I don’t feel burdened by it at all. In fact, I believe my life is richer for the small ways I’ve given back over the years. I thrive by lifting others up.
Giving what you can, when you can and how you can is important and it doesn’t have to be monetary. I think for me I live a comfortable life, but I don’t have excess money left over being a single mum with four children, so I give different things: my time, my concern, I give in ways I can. Probably most of it equates to my time and knowledge and that is my way of being generous.
Kirstin Bouse is speaking about knowing your narrative at Opportunity International Australia’s Women4Women event in Perth on Wednesday 10 October at 5.30pm. Register here.