One of my favorite Buddhist sayings is, “We are all on the path.” I like it because it expresses an important truth: everyone suffers and makes mistakes, and no one has achieved perfection – or ever will. We are all doing the best we can. Saying “we are all on the path” expresses a perspective grounded in non-judgment for ourselves and for others, as well as a belief in the inherent capacity of all people to learn and grow.
In my work as a therapist, I try always to keep this perspective in mind. First and foremost, I remind myself that I am not above or beyond your struggles. What you are experiencing, I may have experienced – or I may experience at some point in the future. You are doing your best, just as I am, often under difficult circumstances. I don’t know better. It is not my place to tell you what you ought to do. You are the expert on your own life.
What I can do instead is hold empathy and help you identify strategies for change. I can give you my full attention and ask questions whose answers may uncover new solutions. I can offer observations and share relevant experiences. After all, I am a father, a husband, a child of aging parents, a worker, and a person with financial responsibilities. Like you, I have experienced struggles. None of us is immune to difficulty in our lives.
For these reasons, I try always to remember that I can support you in your journey, but it remains your journey. We are all on the path, but it looks different for each of us.