Life Lessons and Legos

February 20, 2023 By Admin
In recent sessions with clients ranging from the ages of 5 to 16, I utilized the Legos that were donated from United Way of Orange County to illustrate a lesson about life.  Each of the clients have a different story that has impacted their life that range from abuse, abandonment, or suffering the consequences of negative parental choices and the lesson about life is the same.  Even though the clients carefully constructed their models and put thought into the color patterns,  they often found that the structure would suddenly break or fall apart.  They would fix one part of the structure, only to see another part of the structure fall apart.  Some clients demonstrated frustration with the Legos and one little five-year-old client wanted to just quit after her structure fell apart several times.  However, with encouragement to pursue her goal, she was able to create the camera that she intended to make from the beginning.  The final product was not the same as she originally imagined, but she was proud of what she created.
In life, we need strong social supports, but we also have to be willing to accept the help.
As life-long learners, we discover that it is important to learn from our mistakes or from adversities, and not give up.
To be successful in our life journey, we accept that bad things happen, but are committed to pursuing the goals that we value.
One eight-year-old client summed up the building process with Legos in this way, "You have to build your structure on a firm foundation, the foundation is the key."  As an individual who had not used these types of Legos in the past,  this client showed me how to build a stronger base so that my tower would not break.  We identified how life is similar to Legos in that respect.  If individuals develop effective coping skills for dealing with anger, adversity, grief, anxiety, etc. they learn how to build an effective and supportive foundation for regulating their emotions.  In life, it appears that things may be falling apart much like the Lego structures.  We might get frustrated, angry, and at times, just throw up our hands and say, "I quit!" Many clients have identified with the concepts of the acceptance and commitment theory in that they identify the need to solve the problem rather than running away or avoiding the problem.  Individuals engaging in self-directed learning through a strong therapeutic alliance with their counselor have discovered that running away from any problem only increases the distance from the solution.
Another client remarked that she started off wanting to build a structure that was totally different from the one that she ended up with in the end.  In life, many times we seek "perfection;" which results in creating stress, anxiety, and even self-doubt in our own capabilities of being successful.  Rather than striving to be perfect,  individuals with strong coping skills have learned to strive for excellence - doing the best they can with skills and talents that make them unique.  Rather than comparing one structure to another one, the clients created a structure that was unique.  We talked about how comparing ourselves to others also leads to self-shaming and automatic negative thoughts that start a vicious cycle of negative feelings and negative actions.

Thank you to the United Way of Orange County for the Legos so that these young clients who have endured many adversities in their lives could have a visual lesson on life - a life lesson from the perspective of Legos.

Debbie Johnson, MEd., is Samaritan Counseling Center’s Clinical Director. She earned her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Southwest Texas State in San Marcos (renamed Texas State University in 2003) and her Master’s in Educational Leadership, Special Education, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lamar University. Her 37 years in public education has spanned from being an elementary school teacher, educational diagnostician, school counselor, and a special education/ Licensed Professional Counselor. With over 13 years of experience in the field of counseling, she has mentored counselors-in-training and focused upon meeting the mental health needs of children and adolescents. When she isn’t working, she loves to spend time with her family and friends in addition to running/walking. Debbie is dedicated in helping others to disover and re-discover their purpose in life as they face challenges in their life journey.

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