I invented a system, a map of sorts, to help clients use life’s adversities to their best benefit. I affectionately named this map Gootugo, a variation on the phrase goo to go. The goo part of this navigational map helps one examine the places where they are stuck, and this is what I’ve been doing lately.
With my mother’s death on Christmas morning I feel compelled to take note of and carry forward her strengths. My mom was a teacher who prided herself on her good mind and strong intellect. She prided herself on her sense of discernment–the ability to separate quality from mediocrity and the exceptional from the mundane. She loved beautiful things–and noticed beauty all around her.
I have those same tendencies to want the unworldly qualities of perfection and beauty. I also notice–to a fault, when those go missing; and therein lies a problem. When the world won’t bend to this need for the sublime, I can make others around me quite uncomfortable. Not on purpose, of course.
When I didn’t–or couldn’t– live up to my Mom’s expectations, it made her unhappy and critical. This criticism made me seek to avoid my humanness. In looking back, I see that at some point, I nearly stopped being me. I didn’t dare to let anyone, most of all my Mom, know who I really was.
Life has given me several nudges to get back to being myself. But authenticity feels like a razor’s edge of sorts. As a therapist, I embrace the pursuit of authenticity for my clients, but there are built-in tenets of the field of psychotherapy which seem to make authenticity of the therapist frowned upon. Interwoven into the fabric of what is assumed might most benefit the client–absolute focus on the client–is the sense that revealing too much about the therapists own foibles and difficulties is not good practice. Clients, too, feel confused about how much to share about their private psychotherapy sessions. Current confidentiality guidelines, while insuring the client’s privacy, makes talking about the decision to seek psychotherapy as a means toward growth seem taboo. While I want to encourage my clients to “pay it forward”–to talk about their gains, and to share what’s been helpful with others–privacy regulations seem to discourage even this.
Brené Brown is doing some groundbreaking shame research and has delivered it with wonderfully honest and funny bits of her authentic self. She’s been a great motivator for me, personally. Writing this blog is my first attempt to be authentic in a public way. As you may have noticed, I haven’t found the courage to share my name anywhere on this blog. Hey–I’m working up to it.