March 22nd, 2015 by Dr. Nina Asher

“Rather than having to “be” or “do” more, can we simply begin to “see” more?
-Trudy Goodman, founder of Insightla

You can’t change anything until you’ve engaged with it. Eastern and Western cultures view change in very different ways. Western thinking focuses on “if there’s a problem, jump in and fix it.” That is, “do first and think or reflect later.” In contrast,  Eastern thinking advocates a gentler approach: In simply beginning to bring awareness to something, you have already begun to change it. Concepts such as “start where you are, “just start over,” or “the point where you begin is always the right time,” are powerful ways of thinking, albeit a bit foreign to Westerners.

In my work as a psychologist for children, parents, and individual adults, I attempt to slow down the “fix-it” process by setting a tone of deep listening, engaged inquiry, and reflection. The notion of slowing down the “doing” and increasing the “looking and inquiring,” does not come easily for many of us. And, in the face of parents living with worry, fear, and anxiety about themselves and their children, the impulse is often to act first and reflect later. In a calmer, kinder holding environment, we are better able to delineate what is the parent, what is their child, and what’s in between the two. Setting a goal, or developing behavioral strategies are fine ideas, but in my experience, these things can’t be imposed onto a situation from the outside. Ideas or strategies may emerge from knowing the parents and the child, and from non-judgmental encouragement for the process of “seeing what is.”