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  • Autumn Quiles, LCSW

Aha! Moments

So many people with whom I work do not know the Why of how they feel or how they behave. They do not know the Why of how other people feel or behave. These people are lost in a mirror-maze of life choices; sometimes they make progress toward their Goal and sometimes they keep running into the same mirror walls. They very often do not like the reflection in the mirror.

Understanding The Why is important. The Why brings order to things that seem chaotic. There is reasoning. There is a cause-and-effect that can be identified. If my car suddenly slows to a stop when I am driving, understanding The Why will aid me, immensely, in finding a solution to get it moving again. If I have a reputation for being trustworthy and reliable amongst my friends and in community organizations, understanding The Why may help me to replicate those behaviors at work, so I can get the promotion I want.

As a therapist, I have spent an inordinate amount of my lifetime piecing together The Whys. I have spent many hours, examining and understanding my own Whys. I have spent many hours learning how to understand the Whys of others. And, for the people I serve, the success of my work relies on understanding their Whys.

This understanding of our own Whys, in the therapy world, is called insight. It's closely related to the broader definition of insight as "a deep understanding of a person or thing" or "the act of apprehending the inner nature of things." The capacity for insight is very much related to our ability to embrace change.

Children (and here is a bit of insight for you) are not developmentally capable of insight until approximately the age of 10. They do not understand their own Whys, or the Whys of others. Thus, when their parent asks, "Why would you hit your sister like that?!", they don't have very reliable answers. Fortunately, play therapy does not require insight and that is why it is one of the best therapy modalities for younger children.

However, tweens, teens and adults can identify their Whys, provided they are motivated to do this. It helps if they have had parents who value insight and if they have had opportunities to practice "apprehending" it. Seeking, and attaining, insight is a skill. It must be sought, learned and practiced for it to be strong. Strong insight is a powerful tool in carving out the path you want to follow in life.

For people who are stuck in their own mirror-maze of choices, it is often helpful to talk with a therapist to gain insight- to apprehend the inner nature of themselves. This process may be slow, but learning the skill- flexing the muscle- is something that will serve a person at every crossroads in their life.

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