15. Find yourself.
I think the most important thing I learned is what it truly means to listen to someone. It's pretty hard to explain, but it's not simply understanding the meaning of the words spoken, but listening to how the person gives meaning to what they are speaking.
16. We're all more similar than you'd think.
Everyone thinks their issues are unique. I can't tell most patients this, but I've heard everything they said a dozen times before. Sometimes I find myself thinking individuality is the biggest lie humans are told. Not everyone is the same, but we are cut from the same few dozen cloths. As a result, everyone has several dozen million other people out there who share strikingly similar thoughts, feelings, identities, and life stories.
For some patients, realizing this is a benefit that takes a great weight off of them. For others, the notion that they are an individual is one of the only things holding them together. Two different cloths.
I have often joking thought about making patient bingo cards for my own amusement, though for obvious reasons I don't; it would be disrespectful and lead to bad practices. It is far too important to make sure I don't overlook a nuance among all the dejavu.
17. Who'd have thunk?
The people who are most outspoken about something, whether it's pro- something or anti- something else, very often do not "practice what they preach" behind closed doors. For example, conservative anti-gay folks frequently turn out to be closeted. I've met many a staunch Republican voter who fears "socialism" but collect social security, medicaid, welfare, or unemployment.
18. Good to know.
There is a lot of shame and there doesn't need to be.
The person accusing someone of cheating is often the cheater. That's just my experience in sessions - no idea if it's actually true.
We need to belong to a group.
The most normal looking granny watches weird adult films.
People can take a lot of crap. It's almost scary how bad someone's life can be but they still truck on.
And the whole "you can lead a horse to water" thing? People will actively resist change if they aren't ready to hear it.
People, outside of clients, feel very entitled to everything you know but many only want to hear the stuff that confirms their beliefs.
19. Get off autopilot.
We run on autopilot most of the time and make decisions without thinking.