The Front Page: Late Summer 2015 Newsletter

Clarifying Conversations

When asked about the work I offer, I like to focus on the word conversation. I have clarifying conversations with people about their life and work.

This is true in both individual career counseling and in small group Discovery Writing. What I do is help people to go deeper into the heart of the conversation they have been having with themselves—conversations that have often been going on for months or even years, occasionally for decades. I help them to go beyond where they routinely get stuck; I do this by listening.

During one-on-one counseling, I am listening deeply to all that is being said and not said. I am trusting my experience and my intuition, listening for a way that gently unravels what longs to be revealed. The goal is to hear and trust the heart’s own knowing.

In Discovery Writing, the conversation usually happens on paper and takes place between the listener-writer and their own inner knowing. The writer is listening and recording what is heard, while their own inner knowing is using the stream of words to unravel what longs to be revealed. Once again, the goal is to hear and trust the heart’s own knowing.

One of my favorite quotations describes this process and applies equally to conversations in counseling and in writing:

“Sometimes it seems as if one thing has nothing to do with another thing, but it does.
The trick is to write it down. Not to figure it out. To write it down, one vision at a time.”
-Burghild Nina Holzer

Recently, I’ve begun to wonder whether conversation might become an endangered interaction, especially the face-to-face variety that I love. To be honest, these really do demand a lot: making arrangements to meet, arriving on time at the agreed upon place, sitting down and settling in. Cell phones are silenced and put aside—a sure sign that time has also been set aside. With our undivided attention, we create the sacred space for something to happen.

If we are having a conversation while also shopping online, texting others, or working on the side, we are just talking. We are skimming the surface of our mutual potential. And maybe that’s okay, most of the time. But what about when you need to hear the deep truths of your own life? A truth that might be whispered from the depths by a still small voice. Will you hear it and trust what you hear? Will I be able to help you hear and trust it? Or will we miss it, preoccupied by an awaited text arriving or a super funny video sent by a colleague?

At times we are all distracted. Life is distracting. We crave distraction.

Still, we are capable of and yearn for more than we can yet name or know. We are all in need of listening to ourselves and to each other, because we need to be who we came here to be. The world needs all the love and joy we can bring.

Laurie Mattila


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