How to be a Therapist that's Entirely HUMAN.
I decided that I will post about my personal growth journey as a means of normalizing the life of a therapist. Often people tend to think we're the ones who have it all together, however, I know this isn't the case. So here's how I show up for those of you who need someone to relate to...
I AM A MESS! Well, not a total mess, but I am a bit all over the place at times. I am a perfectionist, and this perfectionism facilitates my procrastination. I forget things and make a lot of mistakes.
BUT... I am also INCREDIBLY AMBITIOUS!
So when I start to embrace these (not so positive) things about me, I make a conscious effort to remind myself of my greatness. Then I give myself permission to be human. You see, humans encompass many emotions, we're impulsive at times, are ever evolving, and adapt to our surroundings pretty efficiently.
Humans are not perfect. And because therapists happen to humans, I give myself permission to show up as both, unapologetically...
Now this isn't an excuse, it's me going against the idea that we, as therapists, should fit into a box where we don't get to live. We're constantly trying to stay ahead of the game. Keeping it "together" in front of those who revere our opinions. We try to present ourselves as professionals at all times, which is perfectly fine, but in order to achieve balance there needs to be moments where we are just human.
One of the ways I show up as a imperfect being for my clients is through self disclosure. I do it in good taste, and when I find a moment to connect, I take it! This has made a difference in the way they have received and navigated the therapeutic process. I empower them to be human, to accept themselves as is, to understand that they have the ability to make a positive impact in their lives, and to make mindset shifts that allows for them to see the "other side" of their issues... All while secretly taking my own advice.
I see myself in my clients, and at times it's frightening.
So when I give my "you are human" spiel, I'm simply reminding myself that, I too, need to take this advice.
Here's three of those points, hopefully they will help you too:
- You are allowed to grow out of your situation. There is no guilt or shame in healing: This is a huge one for me. At times we get so attached to our story. It becomes who we are and facilitates how we exit in the world, in all facets. My clients often have some level of guilt for growing and moving past their stories. It's almost as if they can't imagine a life where they aren't leading with their pain. So giving yourself permission to heal and facing the unknown is what is necessary for growth.
- Judge yourself less: This is for the perfectionists in the house... whoop! whoop! I see you (*giggles*). When my perfectionism is in full effect, NOTHING GETS DONE! It literally helps facilitate my procrastination. So when this happens, I have to have a real talk and look in to myself. What's the hold up? Why are you making this so difficult? Where is the problem? It can be frustrating, but I spend so much time trying to perfect myself, my craft, my practice, my everything that I don't get to enjoy the process. I am learning to judge myself less, and to be more patient with the work that goes in to building and developing the person I am purposed to be.
- Express yourself: Yes, I said it. EXPRESS THE HELL OUT OF YOURSELF without the fear of what's going to come shooting back your way. I find that in the journey of becoming a therapist, I am attracting all types of people who need healing (outside of the office). I get dumped on, continually. So I had to find a way to create an emotional boundary for myself that allows others to know that I am not interested in being your therapist-friend, and that I need an outlet as well. Asking for what I need and expressing my thoughts have been a game changer.
So there you have it. In order to be a therapist that is entirely human, you have to give yourself a break! EXIST AS YOU ARE, WHERE YOU ARE... Then make adjustment accordingly without the guilt of being perfect.