You know, for the last several years, over a decade, probably around 15 years, my life has been surreal. I have gotten the opportunity to travel the world. I’ve been to over 30 countries and you know, this was not a life I ever anticipated I would be in. Growing up as a kid I did not have a ton of resources. I had all kinds of problems in my childhood that I needed to overcome. And then one day I find myself in a position where I’m leading an industry in the field of Psychotherapy that has given me opportunities to do amazing things and meet amazing people. And these days, one group of those people is on my mind more than any other.
And it’s the people I met during my two trips to Russia. I’ve been to Moscow twice to lecture. I think the first time was in 2014 and the second time was in 2017. And on those trips, I met some of the most amazing people. You know, and to be honest with you, I didn’t know what I was going to meet when I went, I didn’t know, being American and knowing the history between America and Russia and World War II and all those things, I didn’t really know what to expect.
But what I met with some of the kindest, most wonderful and amazing people. And now, you know, Russia’s in the news and it’s not good. The world has gotten really, really scary. And in some ways I’m even surprised that the world’s gotten even scarier than it’s been before. And I’m getting messages, private messages from the people that I met on my journeys to Russia, and they have one clear request.
They want the whole world to know that as people, they don’t support this war and they don’t support the actions of their leadership. They want to be treated as individuals. And they want it to be very well known that as a group of people, we are not this. And I thought about that and they asked me if I would share some stuff on social media, which I did. And they asked me to be their advocate and let people know that they’re kind people and they’re warm people and they’re nice people. And what is happening politically does not represent who they are.
And I thought about that and I thought… a) it’s true and it’s important. We need to treat people as individuals. And I’ve been there firsthand more than once. I can tell you, they’re an amazing group of kind warm people, but it also makes me think about the clients who come into our office, who are just begging, I don’t want the world to see me as the problem that I’m experiencing in my life.
Like, I don’t want to be known as the drinker or the depressed person or the sad person or the anxious person. I think the greatest gift we can give our clients is the gift of being seen for who they are and what they are beyond just what’s showing up as a problem. I think this is true now more than ever. I think this is an important now more than ever, which is why so many people are sending me these messages to connect with me just so they can say…
Elliott, make sure the world sees us and knows that we don’t support what is happening. Make sure they see us for who we are truly, who we are really. And I think our clients are making the same request. So people ask me all the time, like how do you do Solution Focused Brief Therapy? Well, believe it or not, it starts with how you view your clients. What you do is linked to how you view. And it’s important that we recognize our clients are positive. Our clients are inherently good. There are things in them that are strong and wonderful. And we have to do therapy in a way that honors that and evokes that. And it starts with us being able to see that.
So right now my heart is with the Ukrainian people. My heart is with the Russian people. My heart is with all people. This is a time where we need to work really, really hard to find commonalities and find what makes us great and really lean into that. Because I think that’s the only thing that’s going to take us out of this difficult place.