Over the years, I've come to the conclusion there is a perception that therapists have some special unique super power that enables us to guide people out of their comfort zone, to take risks and to make decisions that are in their best interest.
Ironically, if we are honest and transparent we know that our lives, our inner lives, are usually not that far off from those of our clients. Don't get me wrong, we certainly have honed skills, tools, education, insight and wisdom. However, we are human and that means at times we are filled with angst, overcome with sadness, struggle with fear and worry and even have hang-ups. It is from that place of our humanity that I think we actually do our best work.
I do not look at a risk-averse client and wonder, “What is that like?”
I don’t sit before a griever and wonder, “What is grief all about?”
Certainly our education can prepare us from a purely intellectual place, providing a working knowledge of how to companion someone through their unique life experience. We do not need to have the exact life experience our clients have in order to be effective. What we do need to own, is how much we bring ourselves into the therapeutic relationship and experience. When we pair our intellectual knowledge with an intimate knowledge of a particular struggle there is the capacity to be deeply authentic and intellectually honest.
So when I realized I needed to work smarter, start a small business, get a website and venture out on my own, I did it stomping my feet and throwing an adult tantrum.
I didn't want to do it.
I didn't want to take the chance.
I didn't want to spend the money.
I didn't want to take the risk.
I wanted to stay in my comfort zone and miraculously I wanted change to happen in my life. Yet, I would work with clients and facilitate their journey of growth, encourage them to take risks, step out of their comfort zone and say yes to things they wanted to say no to.
My work and my inner life were completely incongruent.
So I reached out to Megan Witt of Upspeak Collective, because a colleague of mine had a website that I liked and Meg created it. We spoke on the phone and she was enthusiastic about what I wanted to do and believed she could help me. From that point on, the train was on the tracks and there were many times I wanted to jump off.
Yet, here I am. I am writing a blog post (because Meg said so) so that I can reach out to people and let them know about the work I am doing. I am learning that I need to (gulp) promote myself as an educator, public speaker and clinical supervisor. Even writing that feels as comfortable as wearing shoes on the wrong feet. But here’s the deal: If I want to work smarter and create a different life for myself I need to take responsibility for it. I need to follow the guidance I provide multiple times a day for my own life. I need to remember that my personal and professional life has been influenced deeply by Viktor Frankl who taught me that we are in control of our response to any given situation.
Yes, I am scared.
Yes, this is a risk.
Yes, I am uncomfortable.
Yes, sometimes we must fake it till we make it, so let’s be honest about that.
This is not easy and I would prefer to be the observer of life I inherently am, instead of being front and center on a website. Ask me later about how enthusiastic I was about a photo shoot (cough cough).
Yet, here I am.
Deep breath taken.
I am in that in between place, between one ledge and another, no going back and yet, not on the other side.
I know so many of you are in that place too, so let’s exhale together, trust we will be safe, take the risk, open our eyes wide and believe we will land softly.