Pause & Appreciate

Lydia walks into the session depressed about never finding love again. In this session she wanted to talk about a recurring image she has had for years. Every time she thought of finding a partner she was confronted with the same image and the same feeling.

The image was of a beautiful summer vineyard/ garden setting. It had a long table with many generations of  a family seated around –  great grandmothers, children, new borns, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a huge gathering. The table was covered with wonderful foods and drinks, young boys and girls ran about here and there, ladies talked and laughed with each other, men did the same and grandmothers were being their adorable selves.

In Lydia’s mind it was the picture perfect family get together but it wasn’t her family. It was an image of the family she hoped to be a part of when she found her future partner.

She did not see herself in the image. She was looking at this image from a distance, not too far, just enough to see the whole table setting with the family members. Instead of feeling happy about this setting, she was filled with sadness. Her sadness came from her almost stubborn or adamant surety that if she became a part of this family, she would ruin the happy atmosphere. She genuinely believed that her streak of jealousy, bad temper or meanness would just destroy it all.

Her feeling towards the image had left her so dejected that she had stopped looking for love. She was so convinced that no one could be happy with her or  make another happy.

But going back to the image, I asked her if she could insert herself into the image. She was reluctant but did manage to put herself in the image while watching herself from a distance. Nothing changed. She still felt that sadness. I then asked her to walk over and actually seat herself down with the family rather than just see the image from a distance. This was a bit hard but she did. She took a seat next to the grandmother. Suddenly, the picture came to life with all its sounds and movements. Till then the image was like a muted film.

Lydia was suddenly irritable with all the sounds and movements. She saw kids running about shouting, the baby in her own arm was crying, mothers were yelling after their kids, water glasses were tipping over, grandmother seated next to her kept asking the person across the table to repeat herself over and over again because she could not hear well. To make it worse, it was a hot summer day and Lydia was wearing a polyester dress which made her sweat profusely. It was total “chaos”.

But at this point she realised something profound. She paused the image took a step back and simply observed. She paused to take it all in and said “Thank You”. What she realised then was that she got so involved in the mayhem that she forgot to appreciate what was right in front of her – her dream. Her idea of a perfect family was right there but her senses were bombarded with everything that was wrong which made it hard for her to appreciate the moment.

At this time she had another image which was from the movies where families said “Grace” just before eating. She was not being religious or was religious herself. She felt she needed such moments where everyone paused and she could express gratitude for everything an everyone right there with her.

Once she did exactly that. She then unpaused the image, went back into the mayhem and for the first time felt contentment. After that, the image just vanished and she no longer held a negative opinion about herself when she thought about finding someone in the future.

She realised she had let many such perfect moments pass her by. She simply needed to pause and appreciate. She put this into action the same week when she visited her closest friends for dinner. Just before dessert was served, she paused and thanked them for being in her life, which of course was returned with more gratitude and tears.

Lydia also experienced something remarkable during the entire evening. Whenever there were moments of roaring laughter and happiness her mind did something extraordinary, just for a split second her mind zoomed out and said a silent “thank you”. She could not explain this as it was not a conscious or deliberate act but something very involuntary and beautiful.