By Sabrina Bong – When I first began learning how to drive, my dad kept telling me that I needed to have a “short memory.” At first, I didn’t quite understand what he meant. I thought he was making a comment on my short stature. However, he later explained that I needed to be able to quickly acknowledge the mistakes I made 40 miles back and then let go of them. Not completely forget the mistakes, but recognize that dwelling on past problems will not solve anything. Plus, if I kept thinking about the things I didn’t do well, I would probably mess up on the things I was currently doing.
Counseling, in my opinion, demands a somewhat “short memory.” You need to be able to see the mistakes you made, and then let them go. Take that lesson you learned from what you did and use it to make yourself a stronger, better counselor.
This past week, I met with a student whom I had previously talked with. At the time, I was still pretty new at the site. Nate had asked me my opinion on something that this student had mentioned, and I had no idea what to say. My mind completely blanked and every piece of learning I had done on different counseling skills simply floated out of my head. Thankfully, Nate had a better handle on the situation and helped resolve the issue.
This time, however, Nate had a conference and asked if I could possibly talk to the student. I agreed, and we sat down and began to talk. My mind was racing. What if she thinks I’m a horrible counselor because of that last time she was in? What if she thinks I’m completely incompetent? Is she even going to really trust me and ask my advice? I bet she’s thinking about how she would rather have Nate counsel her than me. But then, I took a deep breath and focused on what the student was saying.
We talked for a long time about several different things, not just the issue at hand. There was even a point where she began to say something, stopped, then said, “I guess I can tell you this because I trust you.” As she began telling me the story, I felt so elated. I had built up enough of a rapport with her that she could trust me. And, in my personal opinion, it is really hard to gain the trust of high school students!
As I drove to class that day, I replayed our conversation in my head. I could’ve kept obsessing about my past mistakes and let them consume my mind. I could’ve kept worrying that I was a horrible counselor, and then, in turn, be a not-so-great counselor by not listening to what the student was saying at that moment. But instead, I focused on the current issue. I had a short memory. I learned from my mistakes and then set my sights for the present.
Too often, I think we are bogged down by memories of the past. During this Easter season, I challenge you to let go of your past and instead focus on the beauty of the present and the promise of the future.