Last night, I had a really powerful personal experience that highlighted a really powerful Solution Focused Brief Therapy lesson. Something that I knew fundamentally, and something that I knew kind of in my head logically. But last night I felt it, like truly, genuinely, experienced it. And I wanna share it with you because I think it’s something that could benefit a lot of people just as it benefited me.

But before I get to what the lesson is, I need to give you a little bit of personal history about me. I am the middle child. I have an older brother, his name is Adam. He’s about two years older than me, and I have a younger brother. His name is Isaac, and he’s about two years younger than me.

Every time, my entire life, literally my whole life, whenever anybody found out I was middle child, they talked to me as if that was a negative thing. A massively negative thing. “Oh, middle children, those are the kids who tend to have been ignored.” And you know, “You weren’t really special in your home. You weren’t special enough to be the first born, and you’re not the cute youngest.” And they always talk to me about the negative traits that come along with being a middle child, always.

So then last night I was hanging out with a new friend of mine. I have a mastermind where I show people how to run businesses and how to grow their business in the helping profession. And one of the people in the mastermind is a guy named Pavel. I went to go visit Pavel and I was in his home and we were talking about his business.

Pavel is an expert in birth order science. He has done literally decades of research on the traits that come along with firstborns, middle children, only children, youngest children, and all those things.

So we’re going over some of the material he has, and he had this whole kind of thing about middle children. He talked about some of the amazing strength to come along with middle children. Stuff that I had never heard before. My whole life, people had only talked to me as if being a middle child was a bad thing. And here’s this guy with a ton of expertise in birth order, talking to me about being a middle child and how it’s this really powerful thing.

Middle children are really good at negotiating. Middle children are really good about making sure that everything is fair and equitable. Middle children often grow up to become leaders and entrepreneurs.

He showed me a list of people that were middle children, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Walt Disney. He talked to me about all these people and middle children. And it was a really powerful experience to me. Almost emotional, because I had never been talked to like that about my middle childness ever.

It got me to thinking, in Solution Focused Brief Therapy it’s our job to have conversations with our clients that highlight strengths. And I think a lot of times we think about how we can help our client realize their strengths so that they can solve their problems. We think about talking to people and helping them realize what their positive traits are so that they can overcome some challenge or some problem. However, that’s really not what resource talk is all about in Solution Focused
Brief Therapy.

The way of doing it that Adam Froerer and I developed known as the Diamond, there’s something called Resource Talk where we’re highlighting client resources and strengths, but it’s not just about so that they can solve some sort of problem in their life. It’s also so they can feel good about themselves. It’s also to impact the way they see themselves.

I have constantly said, if you want to make a difference in someone’s life, you have to have a positive impact on what they see when they look at themselves in a mirror. So now all of a sudden I got information about me that I had never had before, like Elliot as a middle child. That probably explains why equality is so important to you. That probably explains why you grew up to become a leader and you grew up to become an entrepreneur. That explains so many things and it just blew me away.

It impacts us.

So remember when you’re talking to people about their positive traits, when you’re talking to people about what’s well about them, when you’re talking to people about their resources, it’s not just so that you can overcome depression or addiction or whatever thing may bothering people, it’s also so they can see themselves in a positive light. When you can see yourself in a positive way, it makes a massive, massive difference in how you live your life.

I don’t know that I will be the same person after the conversation I had last night with Pavel. It really impacted me to start viewing this… this is a new thing. No one had ever talked to me about these things before.

Think about how many times your clients come to therapy and they discover things about themselves in a positive way that they genuinely didn’t know. Like no one had shared with them. Nobody pointed it out. No one had allowed them to go through that process of discovery.

And now that I have, it’s like I’m wearing this amazing cloak of wonderfulness that just feels good, just because I’m thinking to myself like, “Wow, I have this thing in common with Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Walt Disney. And there was literally like 25 people on this that he had on this PowerPoint slide. All these people that were middle children. And it really touched me. It really, really touched me.

So just remember when you’re talking to clients about their resources and what’s good about them and their strengths, it’s not just so that you can solve a problem. It’s also so that they can view themselves in a more powerful and positive light that enables them to go on and solve future problems. Because when you view yourself as wonderful and good and strong and resilient, you are infinitely more likely to be able to handle difficulties as they come up.

So I’m so grateful to have had that experience and I hope this story illuminated and highlighted how important it is to talk to people, not just clients, with people, anybody you meet, people as if they are wonderful, because everything that was once viewed as a negative can also be viewed as a positive.

And when people start seeing that, lives get changed.