Listen to the Story

Posted by Elliott Connie - February 3, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

Years ago, I was taking a class in graduate school where I was instructed to create a Genogram about my family. To complete this project, I interviewed my Grandmother about the history of my family history and what I learned blew me away. Not only that, but it taught me a lesson about the Solution Focused Approach that I highlight in this video. 

Years ago I heard a very amazing story that took place in
my family when I was working on my graduate degree, um, I had to take a class
called family of origin and in that class our professor instructed us to do a
genogram and go back as far as you could possibly go now, given that I’m an
African American and I come from an African American family, um, the poor
records kept in the slave days, made it very, very difficult for me to go and
find records about my family and find things about the past of my family. So I
decided to talk to my grandmother who was the family historian, and I
interviewed her. I never forget if such an amazing conversation. I was always
close to my grandmother, but this was probably my favorite conversation. We
talked for hours on the phone filling out this and grant. My grandmother was
like the link from the past of my family to the present day.

My Grandmother was born in the thirties and a place called
Tchula, Mississippi, which is where my family is from, which is the origin of
my family. Again, due to the slave days, we were, we were deep in the American
south, uh, years later in the forties or fifties, my grandmother and her family
migrated to Chicago from Mississippi, which is a very common thing. There are
several books about that migration. My grandmother was in that migration and
she talked about her family and she talked about, you know, what it was like to
grow up and Tchula Mississippi. My grandmother from a very large family, she
had eight or nine siblings. Um, but one story a really impacted me. One store
really touched me. I wanted to know what was it like in those difficult days in
the, in the American south. And how did they escape. It was very not safe for a
lot of African American families.

So how did the family stay safe? And My mother told me
this story about her father got her name of Cayston. Williams was his name and
hasten. My Grandmother’s father was walking home one day and these two white
men began to harass him, referring to him as a boy and demanding a response.
Like my great grandfather, very proud man, would not respond to being called a
boy and just continued walking home and they continued calling me boy and he
continued walking home. When he got home, he closed the door in their face,
which was a very disrespectful thing to do in the thirties and forties and
Tchula, Mississippi to an African American to to white men. So they went and
got a group of people to come to my great grandfather’s house and I’m with
violent intention with a like a lynch mob than actual lynching.

And the, the intent to drag my grandfather out of the
house. And. And those things usually ended up in deadly and violent ways. They
usually ended in the destruction of the house and property. I mean it was, it
was really scary thing. My grandfather is seeing this crowd of people
collecting outside of front of his home. He got a gun, got his rifle and went
and met the mob and he said, you guys may get me. I’m going to take some of you
with me. And this caused the mob to hesitate. Caused them to be hesitant and
they couldn’t believe that this man was standing up to them in to this degree
and they dispersed and they went away. And from that point forward, they began
to run for, to my great grandfather has crazy Easton and they left his children
alone and refer to them as those are crazy hastings children.

And for the rest of the time in Mississippi, my, my, my
great grandfather’s children by grandmother. And uh, we’re all safe up until
the time when they left and headed to Mrs, uh, headed to Chicago. And I
remember hearing that story and it’s being so touched and moved that I was
related to to someone that was capable of such a strange character and bravery
and courage. And, um, I remember thinking how amazing that was and I think now,
so you wouldn’t be listening to the story thing. You’re like, what on earth
does this have to do a solution focused brief therapy? Well, to me, everything
actually, because one of the most understated skills in solution focused brief
therapy is listening, is hearing. I read a quote today that says, uh, people
start to heal the moment they feel heard and you know, you have to remember,
man, that everybody that you meet, everybody comes into your office ever comes
in contact with.

They come in carrying a diverse and amazing story and we
live in a world right now that I think is struggling quite a bit with
diversities and how do we deal with people who are different from us? How do we
deal with communities and cultures, different genders, different backgrounds,
different ethnicities, nationalities, so socioeconomic statuses and we have a
tendency to judge them and to look down upon them and to be critical. But I
think we need to listen for the story. I think we need to listen for the hero
in the story because I promise you every story of problem, every story of
trauma, every story of tragedy, a tragedy. There’s a hero in that story. And
one of the great things about solution focused brief therapy is we get to
listen for the hero in that story. And all of a sudden everyone. We talked to
my grandmother and realized there was a hero in my family and my family story
and you know, we struggle with this in this world, even in the solution focus
community, we struggled with this.

Diversity issues are real and they’re present the
associations, organizations and conferences in this very field struggle with
how to treat people with different ideas, backgrounds, different skin tones,
different ethnicities and nationalities, ages. Um, but we have to rise above
that and remember that every body comes into contact with us with a story. And
it’s our job to hear the story and not be judgemental, not be, um, a
diagnostic, but just be a genuine, true listener. You know, one of the most
important skills, and I’ve said this a billion times, one of the most important
skills are solution focused. Brief therapy is the ability to build your next
question. In fact, I would say that that’s all solution focused. Brief therapy
has the ability to build the next question, but rooted in that skill is the
ability to hear what your client is saying and the ability to hear the hero in
their story.

And think of them as a hero. And I think too often when
people say things that are hard to hear or that are so different from us, so
that we even don’t want to hear, we have a tendency to judge what we’ve heard.
We have a tendency to diagnose what we’ve heard. We have a tendency to distance
Israel’s. It’d be uncomfortable by what we heard. And I want you to celebrate
it. I want you to really, really listened for the hero in the story, even if
it’s not a fun, wonderful, amazing story. Find the hero because in the story of
this, of the American south, which is a very troubling traumatic story, there’s
the hero’s story of haste and Williams, which I am fortunate enough to be
related to. I mean, that’s right. My great. My great grandfather. And the next
time I saw my grandmother was having a conversation through tears.

My grandmother told me, and I’m just like him, um, you
know, my grandmother passed away a few years ago, but I’ve never received a
compliment more touching than that one. So I want you to remember that no
matter what, it’s your job to hear the hero in not only your client’s stories.
I want you to think broader than that. If there’s one thing this world needs
more of, I think it’s more listening for hero and people with different stories
and different backgrounds because we’re struggling with it right now. We’re
struggling with it in the field of focus, brief therapy. We’re struggling with
it in the world. We’re struggling with it everywhere. And if that truly is what
leads to healing, and I believe that it does, then we have to hear people’s
hero story. We owe every single person we meet that, especially the people who
come to us for our service.

So I hope you enjoyed this video. Uh, you know, I really
thought long and hard. I actually even called a my partner, my business partner
and I said, you know, I got something on my heart and I’m kind of nervous to
share it and she encouraged me to go ahead and do it. So I hope you enjoyed
this video. Please like, share, and comment below. I’d love you guys so much
and thank you for listening to the story. I’d love to hear your story. Leave a
comment below like it, share it, help me spread these words as always, and never
forget your just one question away from making any difference in someone’s
life. I’ll see you in the next video.

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