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Pyrmont Therapist, Nigel Bailey: “My Son the Accountant is Drowning”

pyrmont therapist2 Pyrmont Therapist, Nigel Bailey: My Son the Accountant is DrowningThis article has been written by Nigel Bailey of Becalm in Pyrmont. Nigel is a fully-qualified psychotherapist and professional counsellor.

The late great Irish comedian Dave Allen describes thus the plight of the proud Jewish mother running down the beach in search of help. As much at home in lambasting his own faith, Allen had observed a preoccupation to which we are all abnormally prone; the confusion between what we do and what we are; a confusion with origins in early childhood and one which effortlessly spans the social and cultural divide. Stripped of his livelihood, the postman becomes simply Pat, the ex-builder Bob; yet the question “What do you want to be when you grow up” will still more likely inspire pledges to drive trains or nurse sick animals than to be happy, to be a decent considerate human being or to be at peace with oneself and all whom we encounter.

This may sound naïve and irrational I know. Even in the fall-out after one of the longest continuos greed-fests in our recent economic history, the newly-defrocked Bobs and Pats are reluctant to address life without their corporate plumage; to introduce themselves without a complex yet essentially meaningless title is likewise unthinkable. Gone are the days when we could simply describe the task we performed; be it doctor, lawyer, farmer or dustman. We have all been re-invented as “operatives”, “consultants”, “associates” or “managers”. The more lengthy and opaque our job description, the more we seem to like it. In attempting to level the playing field and avoid those awkward barbeque moments, we have instead created a terrain more suitable for military manoeuvres.

Yet all we really need to do is to revise the question, or more specifically the answer to that essential opener, “What do you do?” without confusing doing and being. “I do accountancy” might sound a little awkward, but does not rule out life beyond it in quite such a finite manner. To then consider what we do when we stop “doing” accountancy; what value we place on our own time, our family and friends, the things that make us happy, the things that we really care about suddenly offers a great deal more to inspire us. Liberated from the preconceptions that we place upon our job, and those that we allow others to add, we are in a much happier place while “doing” it, and a much happier one when we stop. As more and more clients address the loss of their jobs and the prospect of life in a stateless wilderness, it is immensely encouraging to see how readily this concept can be embraced, and how much empowerment we derive in the process.

A good friend of mine once defined humanity as most proud of only the second best thing that we do. When you think about this, it does make perfect sense. And when you put it into practice, and guide your clients to a point where it resonates for them, self-confidence increases and the things that really matter, those things often dismissed as both “little” and “simple” may be re-evaluated in all their life-affirming enormity. In the words of the good Jewish mother – enjoy.

© Nigel Bailey 2009.

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