Dear Dr. Norquist:
I’m writing to thank you for all of your wisdom that you deliver each week. I’ve clipped so many of your articles, and recently wrote to you about my boyfriend of two years from Canada, 47 years old. We did get engaged and it’s been wonderful, and I attribute his hesitancy to a number of things, but nonetheless I’m going in with an open heart. I really enjoyed your advice to the woman with the sick husband about appreciation. You truly have a gift.
Do you or anyone you know offer career counseling? I’m a journalist who was laid off in April and not finding a fit, and I think that’s because I always wanted to try a different road but after you turn 40 you feel like what you do is what you do. I’m searching but not as aggressively as I should and sometimes I wonder what that’s ‘telling me.’ I just sat in a speech pathology class at Seton Hall to see how it was, could I go back and study again, who else is in the class, etc. and I really liked it. Then I go back and post jobs in my old field, so I think there’s a fear I’m trying to get past or something.
Dr. Norquist responds:
It’s good to hear that my response was helpful to you. Your question implies that there is something you are sensing, an inner reluctance or fear that you would like to understand more fully. I use the word “sensing” because my hunch is that this sensing does not originate in your head. Some non-mental part of you senses that there is something more going on here and then your mind takes over, trying to figure it out. To get to the source of the knowing, it’s important to pay attention to the original inner felt sense. If you stop to notice this felt sense, you will probably discover that it emanates from your body, not your mind. It’s that place inside your chest or abdomen that really “knows” when something feels right to you or conversely, that place where you know something doesn’t “ring true.” It’s a “body-knowing” place that can serve as a guide to your own personal path, your own unfoldment. This bodily felt sense can be an incredible resource for you in resolving “stuck” places, and moving forward with your life.
There is a defined process for accessing this inner bodily felt sense that was developed over 40 years ago by Dr. Eugene Gendlin, a philosopher who taught at the University of Chicago. This technique is called “Focusing.” It is a practical, easily learned skill that can be readily applied. If this interests you, a very helpful book for learning focusing is The Power of Focusing by Anny Weiser Cornell (1996). My suggestion for now is to practice sensing into your body. See if you can sense the inside of your stomach, abdomen and chest. Sense the quality of the sensations you experience. It could feel constricted, fluttery, heavy, empty, peaceful, queasy, blank, wooly, jittery, expansive, or something else. This is the first step in focusing.
I will write soon about the next steps in focusing, so that you can discover for yourself the answer to your question. Ultimately, only you know the answer. Thanks for writing again!
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)
Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2009 Chaitanya Counseling Services