I suppose when you put your mind to it, in the space of 6 minutes you can do quite a bit. For example
- Do 15 push ups
- Write a letter to a friend/family member
- Make your bed
- Enjoy a cup of tea/coffee
- Put the laundry on
A lot of other things can happen in the space of 6 minutes too. Sometimes that time goes by ever so fast, sometimes though it seems to drip by slowly. The most fascinating times is when two people are sharing this time and both experience two completely different things. Two separate things that were learnt from this time, both just as important and relevant as each other.
So for this blog I have enlisted the help of Ayse. Ayse is a solution focused therapist from London specialising in domestic abuse recovery.
The reason being is quite simply because I made Ayse wait that 6 minutes.
I didn’t know it at the time, I wasn’t timing it (she was) but to me that 6 minutes didn’t feel that long. For me 6 minutes was something else, and for us that 6 minutes gets referred back to time and time again.
Ayse, what was it that made you stay silent and wait for me to reply to your question in that day?
When I initially called you to book in our first session you said, ‘What’s the point? No one ever listens to me. People make up their own minds like I don’t have a voice’. I wanted to support you in finding your voice. I wanted you to know that you matter.
For me It didn’t feel that long to me, to be honest it literally seemed like 1 or 2 minutes because I couldn’t think of what to say. I remember having a million different answers in my head, so it wasn’t really not knowing what to say, but not knowing how to say it. I was desperate to respond with ‘I don’t know.’
Ayse, did you know that when I look back now I have so much respect for you waiting that length of time, just sitting there waiting for me to answer.
What difference did it make you having been giving time to think without being rushed?
This is a good question, to be given the time to think, and allowed to answer in my own time meant I was able to process my own thoughts. At the time my thoughts were so jumbled it was always easy to respond with ‘I don’t know’ or ‘it doesn’t matter’ because to me that was simply how it felt. However, sitting there being given the time on that day planted the seed, which has then slowly grown into trust.
What difference did those 6 minutes make to you and your practice?
It taught me patience!! I am not the most patient person but it was not about me. It was about you. My practice has changed significantly since then. I invite clients to ‘think’ and not have the assumption that they have the answers, they just need the space to think.
I had spent so long not being able to answer with the words that I had wanted to, being able to have that opportunity was scary. I couldn’t understand why it was important for someone to want to know what it was I wanted to say. Let alone what I was thinking and feeling. I had gotten used to saying what other people wanted to hear. This was unknown territory to me. This initial conversation was an eye opener that’s for sure.
So what was it that sparked this long wait? What was it that I was asked?
The question was a follow up question. My initial question was, ‘What are your best hopes?” It took a few minutes for you to answer, but you did. The actual question I asked that resulted in me waiting six minutes was, “Imagine your best hopes were met, what difference might that make to you?” You rolled your eyes a few times and changed your seating position. Not because you were upset by the question but because you allowed yourself time to think of the answer. I had no idea what was going on in your head but I could see you were working hard. I was not going to interrupt your thought. Then there was a eureka moment. You hesitated by shared your thoughts with me. You described what life would might look like for you once you met your best hopes.
Best hopes, this was the hardest question ever, although now this is one my favourite questions to be asked, because I always have best hopes, in every day. Out of every conversation, out of every situation. Sometimes even if that is just to be heard.
Now writing this, looking back it is easier to reflect on that moment. This is because I am so much further along in my own journey. Over a year further along. There have been many moments when I have sat in silence following being asked questions, for a multitude of reasons. The feeling of being allowed to have a voice, an opinion is one thing. The understanding that it your voice is wanted, and respected, and liked is something different altogether.
There are many more people who cannot be heard. Or feel that being heard is not important. Part of this is being able to learn that you are important, and your voice is important. In many different aspects.
Being heard by yourself is just as valuable as being heard by others. This is something that Ayse has helped me with on may occasions. Hearing yourself, and what you are telling yourself that you need. That little voice in your head. You know the one, the one that tells you that you need a break, that you need to take it easy for the day. That you just need to slow down or take some time out. When you need to remember the things that ground you, the breathing, the colouring, the crafts, the writing. Voicing the times that you have managed to do things that you are proud of. Even if it is going into a coffee shop and ordering a coffee, making that phone call which you know will be answered by a total stranger. Small steps lead onto greater leaps at some point when you are ready.
If you have never experienced a period of time where you aren’t able to be heard, or to speak out. Try for a short time, take 6 minutes; and watch the world go by. Listening to your own voice in your head with all the things that you are wanting to say, but not able to speak them. Feel the frustrations, the torment, just for that short moment, so that next time you are speaking with someone, and you notice that they are finding it hard to figure out the words you may understand and some of the frustrations they are experiencing.
Ayse is taking this one very large step further, and is staying silent for much longer. In order to feel what it is like to be a victim of domestic abuse, this may only give her a snippet of what it is like but it is an experience every time she does this. (she has no idea I am writing this by the way guys) Ayse spends her days listening to others, listening to how other people experience days, weeks, months where they spend their lives not being able to have a voice, or be heard. So for a day or two Ayse goes quiet, and listens to the conversation around her, not being able to speak, watching the world carry on around her, and not being able to do anything about it; let alone have a say in what is happening around her. I mentioned above about you trying it for 6 minutes. This year Ayse is being silent for the 6th and 7th September, all monies raised will be going to the charity Family Based Solutions to keep supporting families where they are recovering from domestic abuse. The donation page can be found here Two Days Silence – Online Social Fundraising Donation Platform | Givey and if you want to learn more about Family Based Solutions then check out their website here Child to parent abuse adolescent Parent support groups (familybasedsolutions.org.uk)
Just as an added note, if you’re wondering how long 6 minutes is, if you read at an average pace, this blog post should take you about 6 minutes to read.