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Jul 28, 2017

What inspires us...

I have often thought about what inspires people. I’m a quote user. I search and search for extended periods of time if I want to use a quote for a painting, or a birthday craft project, or just to have a discussion with a client sometimes. It has to fit, it has to be inspirational. I like words that strung together provide meaning not just through the words used but also through striking a cord somewhere inside us. We may call this our heart or mind, if we want to get technical – the parts of our brain that controls emotions. I believe my inspirational quotes board is probably the largest of all the boards I have on Pinterest (:D). Ever wonder what is so special about these words that someone says or writes and we just respond to them instinctively, find meaning for ourselves, and even apply it to our lives?!

Research in the field of neuroscience has often talked about the areas of the brain that are responsible for language production and comprehension. Broca’s area is what helps with the production of language and Wernicke’s area is how we comprehend what is being said. They are both areas of the brain found in the left hemisphere almost diagonally situated towards the front and back respectively from our left ear (for more information visit However, it is our cerebral cortex, more commonly known as grey matter that processes information received and fires various neurons in different directions which in turn creates physical and/or emotional responses. Often these responses are coupled with memories hidden deep inside our brain in an area called the hippocampus (learn more here: When stimuli is backed up by memories some responses are intense and others not so much. This is due to the fact that some material gets emotional charge from the memories stored away deep inside our brain.

But what does this have to do with quotes?! Have you heard the expression “struck a chord”…yes! That is exactly what I think happens when we read a quote that holds meaning for us. Growing up in India and hearing lyrical songs my entire life (we literally joke about how Bollywood has a song for everything you can possibly imagine), I often wondered how these people (poets mostly) knew what was happening in other people’s lives and how could they so succinctly describe feelings of happiness, sorrow, sadness, excitement, courage, fortitude, and the list goes on! Some descriptions made more sense during certain times of hardship and some made so much more sense when I passed my 10th grade board exams. The descriptions struck a chord somewhere and provided a sense of belonging, safety, sometimes inspiration and courage. How about the top five:

  1. One of my favorites by far are the last two lines of a poem– “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” (by Ernest Henley from his poem called Invictus) Inspirational words describing the life of a survivor in spite of hardships.
  2. Pop culture dictates some choices and I don’t just like this one because Sirius Black said it, “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” (Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling). Making choices and some of the tough ones being some of the ones that are most needed in our and our clients’ lives sometimes.
  3. And for all the Star Wars fans – “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (Yoda in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace). How many situations can you think that this quote could help us connect with our clients?
  4. As for Calvin and Hobbes, I think they can sometimes be the most mindful of us all. “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take the time to enjoy where we are” and “It’s funny how day by day, nothing changes. But when you look back everything is different.” (Bill Watterson in Calvin & Hobbes).
  5. And one that caught me recently by our very own Carl Jung, “Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.” Deep thought when we think about defense mechanisms our clients sometimes use and ignore parts of themselves that are important for them to integrate in order to be their true authentic self and embrace their identity holistically.

Do you have any favorite quotes that you think work well if used in session with clients?! Please do share and spread the wealth.
Jyotsana Sharma is a Doctoral Candidate, Counselor, Educator, and human being in the making.  Visit her website at: or find her on twitter @jyots21s


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