Please enjoy this blog written by Karin Bustamante, MA, LPC, one of our therapists here at Maria Droste Counseling Center. Karin works with clients on a number of issues and areas, including life transitions, grief, anxiety, depression, emotional and/or physical trauma, and change in marital status, family composition, career or address. She sees adults and adolescents individually and in small groups (3-5 people).

Have you read Rumi’s poem The Guest House? I was introduced to this poem many years ago and continue to encounter it’s words every so often.  Sometimes I am the one that brings it up in conversation, sometimes it shows up at unexpected settings, like at a yoga class.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

Truthfully, I find it easier to welcome joy versus depression.  Although when joy is too joyful it can be hard to bear as well.  What is it about welcoming these visitors Rumi mentions that makes it so challenging?  Why put up such resistance to simply feeling?

Recognizing how I continually attempted to manage my experience got me interested in psychotherapy.  I started to notice how much time, effort and energy I was using just to keep my emotions and nerves on an even keel.  Interactions with my family and friends started to feel like a chore.  It became easier to be by myself, where I could bar the door against an ‘unexpected visitor’.  While we all need to take a break once in a while from everyday demands, at some point I realized I was avoiding life and feeling exhausted from working so hard.

For me, the benefits of psychotherapy included developing a greater capacity for emotions.  In other words, as I learned to welcome sorrow, depression, anger and fear, I discovered I could experience greater degrees of joy, laughter and delight.  Psychotherapy helped me learn how to better describe my inner experience, how to work with sensations, feelings, memories and beliefs.  As I got to know more of how I related to ‘unexpected visitors’ my confidence grew, a sense of relaxation showed up and it just became easier to be me. All the energy I was using to manage my internal experience was now available for other pursuits, like attending to children, focusing on work or finishing projects.  If you feel you would benefit by connecting with a therapist who holds this view please contact me at 303-867-4639.

Karin Bustamante, MA, LPC