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World's Greatest Psychotherapist

The World's Greatest Psychotherapist

By Gary Craig

It has been my privilege to know, and be shaped by, the world's greatest psychotherapist. Interestingly, she has no formal training in psychotherapy whatsoever and has no grasp of "therapese" terms such as secondary gains, PTSD and the like. In fact, I don't think she has ever read a book on psychology. She didn't graduate from high school either. That's because she gave birth to me while she was still 16!!

Mom is my greatest gift. Long before I ever thought of The Palace of Possibilities, Mom was writing good stuff on my walls. It was non-stop, too. Every time I did anything that was even remotely meritorious, Mom was genuinely astonished. And, over and over again, she told me so in glowing terms. It was unbelievable to her that she could have given birth to such an immensely "talented" child even though, in truth, I was born with no more than the standard raw material.

Perhaps it was because she came from a very poor family of four children and no father. Perhaps it was because her mother told those children (including Mom) that she wished they were never born and resented having to scrub floors to support the family by herself. Perhaps it was because Mom always felt inadequate because she couldn't afford underwear and was ridiculed and unwanted by the other children in school. She often sat by herself in a remote corner of the playground during recess.

I remember coming home from school one day (I was in the third grade) and telling Mom, with pride, that I got third place in a spelling bee. Now, admittedly, that is a reasonably good accomplishment from a class of about 25 students. But to Mom it was yet another of an endless string of achievements by "Wonder Boy." She told our neighbors and friends, of course, and for the next couple of months adult visitors would ask Wonder Boy things like, "How do you spell garage?" I would perform, of course, to yet more accolades.

This kind of thing went on constantly as I was growing up. Mom came to every sports event of mine and sang my praises regardless of how I performed. So did Dad, although he was less vocal than Mom. Even on a bad day, Mom would point out the positive to me. She would say things like, "See, if it wasn't for you catching that line drive in the fourth inning, the score would have been worse. You don't see the wondrous things you do."

That's how I grew up. Sure, I was spanked a few times for misbehaving but it was never because I was bad. It was always because my behavior needed correction. I was always clear about that distinction. Also, even though I'm sure it probably happened, I have no recollection of ever being yelled at by my parents. The positive writing on my walls was so profuse and far reaching that the negative rarely touched me for very long.

How would you like to have Wonder Boy (or Girl) written on your walls in HUGE CAPITAL LETTERS? Would that induce belief in yourself? Would it influence your ability to flow freely within this world? Would you tend to live up to this image of yourself and create a world around you that mirrors your own beliefs. Sure. This is what we all do. So do our clients. If you want to know what has shaped someone, just read what's on their walls.

The writing on our walls, however it got there, is our version of the "truth" about ourselves and the world around us. When we are young, the writing is done by others, particularly by our parents. Our parents, then, are often our most important psychotherapists. Their handwriting is all over our psyches. When that writing is supportive, as mine was, we tend to focus on possibilities rather than problems. The words, "can't" and "should" have limited effect on us. We buy into fewer "limits."

I'll say it again. Mom is my greatest gift.

Hugs, Gary

P.S. Mom doesn't know how to use computers so she isn't on this email forum. I will print this out and give it to her. I'm sure she will appreciate her title as "The world's greatest psychotherapist." However, I can reasonably predict that she will respond with something like, "Oh Honey, you write so well. See how much good you do?"

Isn't she wonderful? What a gift!

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