Helen Giles - The Ripple Effect of Love
NAME: Helen Giles - Social Worker
As I approached time to leave school I had no real idea of what I wanted to do for work. I had a good academic record but had grown up in an era where females generally weren’t really encouraged to go on to higher education and professional careers.
It was generally accepted that women would work until they met their husbands, get married, have children and be the home maker. While I don’t believe I totally bought this idea, I didn’t push to go further with my education as I was eager to be earning my own money and to have some independence.
So I left school and started work in a local accountancy firm. From there I joined a bank and worked in financial institutions for a number of years. However, these jobs didn’t really feel the best fit for me and gradually I formed the idea that the right job for me would be in a counselling role.
Although I had no formal experience of attending counselling, such a job interested me as the reality is that we all get stuck at times in our lives but the potential for change is always there. I knew that it made a huge difference when I had someone who genuinely listened and supported me to understand what was happening and to work out my options when problems occurred. Knowing myself and from observing those around me, I didn’t doubt that there was always more to people than the issue/s they were grappling with, e.g. their sensitivity, creativeness, resilience, courage etc. Hence, the appeal of working as a counsellor. However, to obtain such employment meant that I would have to undertake tertiary study, which was a daunting prospect after so many years away from the classroom.
I continued to sit with the idea and once my youngest child was nearly ready for school I decided that the time was right to put my plans into action. Over the next few years (with valuable assistance from my husband), I juggled study commitments, child caring and rearing, household chores and at times, part time work. Something that kept me going through the years of study was an unwavering conviction that this degree would lead to my niche calling within the workforce.
It has been quite a journey since that time and for the past 18+ years I have predominately worked within the domain of families with young children and especially, perinatal and infant mental health, which is where I am currently employed.
What I have discovered over time is that all the theories I learned at University count, but they are not the ‘be all and end all’; what is most powerful is me being authentically ‘me’ with people.
Working out that people feel the energy of the other person from moment to moment and respond according to how/if they are met with warmth, care, kindness and so forth, was initially quite confronting as I realised it called for incredibly high levels of responsibility and integrity across all areas of my life. With time, commitment and dedication to the development of this ‘one-life’ platform, I can now say that these days the foundation and standards applied in my personal and professional lives are one and the same.
It has been incredible to feel the changes in me as I have come out of hiding and self-protection and been willing to be seen for who I am – a ‘being’ filled with love and tenderness with the ripple extending out and encompassing all of humanity. Experience has shown me that the more willing I am to show people who I am on the inside, the steadier and more consistent and available I am. I have found people responsive to the lack of imposition on them and then consequently feel it is safe to talk with me because I am not distracted by trying to be ‘clever’ or inadvertently subtly shaming and demeaning them by taking the ‘expert’ problem solver role.
The levels of intimacy and trust I share with clients and their families as I walk beside them through the challenges and triumphs of fertility, pregnancies and beyond, are profound.
Although not every story has a happy ending, it gives me great pleasure to witness the way people can and often do, progressively transform their lives through a deeper understanding of themselves and what true health and well-being really means. The subsequent ripple effects reaching out into their families and other social networks are simply beautiful and inspiring to observe and indeed reinforces to an even greater depth the meaning of ‘one-life’ for us all here on earth. I feel truly blessed to be who I am and to undertake the work that I do.