Everyone actually has their own glass; for some, it’s filled to the brim and even overflowing, while for others, the glass is nicely balanced.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that the glass is part of a much larger story, and as a metaphor in conversations during consultations. So, this is a brief explanation to give you an idea of how to interpret the glass.
I want to explicitly mention that issues cannot be resolved with this glass, but it does provide a direction of where we want to go. The glass can offer new insights into possibilities to work on.
Because it’s essential to be aware that we always want to address things that bother us. We naturally seek solutions to them. However, sometimes the solution isn’t readily available, and trying to control it may be the wrong approach.
And here is where my passion comes into play, the core reason why I find this field, audiology, so fascinating: my passion for humanity. The genuine interest in people, with a particular focus on our brains.
We humans are such fascinating beings, especially our brains, which are truly remarkable.
I realize now that it’s my brain saying this to me 😊, but that’s beside the point.
“I used to think the human brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this!”
We go through life, and along that path come all sorts of things: setbacks, limitations, struggles to overcome.
Each of us has our own glass, Das Glas der Lebensakzeptanz, as I learned in a German tinnitus clinic.
That glass is a measure of the maximum amount of stress, tension, but also energy drains we can handle in our daily lives. Everything that takes energy amid all the events and experiences we encounter and carry with us in our lives.
Events that have an impact on who we are. Things that drain our energy. Thoughts that occupy our minds.
No one has an empty glass, or else you wouldn’t be living. There are always things that don’t go as planned or things we dread. Things that keep us up at night. It can become too much at times, everything piles up. The glass overflows. It’s usually a period where nothing seems to work, where everything comes together. It’s too much.
It’s precisely then that the entire system becomes sensitive, unable to handle that one extra thing. The last drop, so to speak, that makes the glass overflow.
Often, with tinnitus, that sound becomes the one thing that really can’t be tolerated anymore. But for someone else, it might be stomachaches or headaches. A bodily signal indicating it’s all too much.
Or another mechanism could be at play: the glass has been full for a long time, and now, finally, there’s peace, but just then, that one thing happens, something over which there’s no immediate control. That tinnitus, that headache, that stomachache that had been absent for so long and now makes itself heard again.
We’ll do everything to regain (or maintain) control over it. All the attention is naturally focused on that. It’s like that loose piece of skin on your finger that has to be removed no matter what. Or the dripping faucet that keeps irritating you and needs to be fixed.
But the faucet won’t stop dripping, and when you pull off that piece of skin, it hurts intensely because it was a bit too much.
What we see here is that all attention goes to the stimulus we perceive. Conscious perception. Hence, it’s not surprising that we immediately want to address that stimulus, the one that captures all our attention.
However, as the glass reveals, there’s much more underneath. This makes it more complex on one hand, but on the other hand, it offers more opportunities to work on.
And here’s where audiology comes in as an exceptionally beautiful field. Audiology is multidisciplinary: hearing, how we hear, what we do with sounds, but also how we stand in life, what’s expected of our auditory system. Social contacts, work, our own thoughts, that life balance. All these facets play a role. Audiology, psychology, social work, physiotherapy, art therapy, even the initial contacts with the secretariat colleagues are essential.
And how wonderful that this glass provides insight into all this. When we look down into the glass, at those elements that drain our energy, are there things that can be addressed more easily? Problems where help can be sought?
And at the top of the glass, the space that provides peace, the energy boosters. The things that make you happy, your passions, the things that recharge your batteries. Are there more or different possibilities there? Have we neglected the things that bring us joy?
And know that there are live events that are so powerful; they stay in that glass forever. That’s where I put stones in the glass. As we grow older, more stones end up in that glass. The traffic from the right, as me of my colleague always calls it. Events that everyone knows will keep you occupied, for which you won’t immediately find a solution. The death of a loved one, losing a job, moving, a car accident, illness; we all know how to fill in these blanks. You can’t remove those stones anymore. Even then, the glass provides insight into how things can be different. Those stones remain stones; you carry them with you, but the glass can become larger so that more can fit in. Enlarging it can be done by focusing on the things that give you energy, that make you happy. By making space at the top of the glass despite those stones. A bigger glass.
And the beauty is that when the balance between energy drainers and energy boosters improves, that thing which initially demanded all the attention and for which we sought a solution, now allows space for that stimulus to just be there. The capacity to bear that stimulus increases.
It still takes energy, but it can be accommodated.
Finding that balance isn’t meant to exert control over the stimulus. That would be too easy and would once again misplace the focus. Indirectly, it would be another form of control. A wrong expectation.
Of course, it would be a loss if easier solutions to address that stimulus directly weren’t considered. That’s why the first step with comprehensive diagnostics is always necessary. That’s why a GP or specialist should always be consulted first. This is an essential step for any complaint.
But in practice, I see that when I draw the glass, many people have already undergone diagnostics in many places. They see for themselves that there are no longer any possibilities there, and now, through the glass, there’s insight into many new opportunities. Opportunities that can even make life more valuable again.
And this applies to many complaints, complaints for which medically speaking, there seem to be no more solutions. Various doctors keep saying there’s nothing more they can do. That’s when you have to find that other path.
Someone has to be able to find that path. And how wonderful that ACT can provide even more tools to find those valuable opportunities and then work together to seize them.
I had to use ACT myself when my own glass was overflowing. Aline Kruit (author, ACT coach, and trainer) gave me my first introduction to it a long time ago, and later, Frans Kemps (coach and trainer) revisited it during career counseling. It wasn’t until then that things clicked, and I was struck by the 6 pillars within the ACT model. And so, I recently started an ACT training for professionals with Tim Batink, ACT in ACTie. Every time, I discover new metaphors and exercises. They just come up unexpectedly. But it’s precisely these beautiful metaphors that make everything so enjoyable. Not only for me now as an ACT coach but also for the clients and colleagues within ACT.
I see the process I go through with clients within ACT as a personal journey, during which the client gains new experiences and looks more consciously at what’s there. Just like visiting a city, you can try to find your way around yourself, but if you take a guide with you, you’ll discover much more, you’ll find the places that are valuable more quickly.
How wonderful it is to be that guide. To share those valuable experiences. Peaks and valleys. Where those valleys are the moments to learn from. Those who climb mountains to later enjoy the beautiful view from the top. They look back on the path they’ve traveled.
And then, together at the top, to raise a glass to success, is a beautiful conclusion to a journey we’ve taken together.
A toast to Das Glas der Lebensakzeptanz.