Thursday, October 11, 2012


I have started psychotherapy and had two sessions so far. I realized that it's very similar to what I do as an English tutor. Basically, the therapist asks a couple key questions here and there to keep me talking. This requires intense concentration and critical thinking on the therapist's part, as every word could contain a hint about what to ask next and what problems there are. In English tutoring, I hang on to every word to try to look for mistakes and chances to teach grammar, vocabulary, or idioms. But I also listen closely so I can ask key questions to keep my students talking. The thing they invariably end up talking about is themselves.
Of course, it's only natural that the thing that's easiest to talk about is ourselves. But at the same time, it's very difficult to talk about ourselves. I've decided that there are two different layers of self-image: the one we think of readily, and the one that takes some prying to get at. For example, my student might tell me that he or she is usually a quiet person (most of them are, which is part of why they seek tutoring for speaking). That's the first layer. But why is he or she a quiet person? Is it because he or she is the middle child in a large family? Is it because his or her parents are quiet and there was never a lot of communication in their house? That's the second layer. It's not very difficult to answer most of those questions when asked, but it is something that we never really think about.

Let me use myself as another example. I hate children. Why do I hate children? I'm afraid of them. Why? I can't say no or punish them or otherwise keep order. Why not? I'm afraid they won't listen or that they won't like me. Why do I care? I need people to like me and need me. Why? Because if nobody needs me there's no reason for me to stay alive. Look at all those layers. I guess it's more than two. Oh well, I'll still say it's two because it's my blog and I can say what I want.

In English tutoring, I usually get to hear all about the first layer and sometimes get down into the second layer. I can see the gears turning in their heads as they think about themselves and why they are the way they are. I think this is why I can tutor English despite thoroughly hating teaching. It feels more like I'm a psychotherapist while being a perfectionist about English usage. I can really get close to my students in a way nobody else can because I'm not in their social circle and I'm not even in their language. Just like saying bad words in another language doesn't feel so bad, telling someone intimate details doesn't feel so invasive in another language. Or maybe I'm just a good listener and that's why I get to see the second layer sometimes.

I'm so used to listening that now that it's my turn to talk, I don't know what to say. Amazing, right? I can spill my heart and thoughts out on the internet for all to see but I can't think of anything when I pay a specialist to listen. I think it is helping, though. I am thinking about thinking about myself. Maybe picking apart my layers and understanding them will help me lead a better life. I hope so, because psychotherapy is expensive.

In general, being crazy is expensive. Haha.

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