Writing in the new year

Clarity and Focus, Laughter and Acceptance. These are the words I am feeling so far for 2019.

I would like to write more this year too. Writing has always been one of my favorite ways to synthesize the ideas floating around inside, and I love connecting with you through the exchanges we have. It’s tricky though. It’s not always easy to lead with the heart online, where it feels like a stage full of performers and an audience who didn’t ask to be there. It’s easy for me to get hooked into the old pattern of caring too much about what other people think. It’s really not about performing though. If you are reading this far, it means there is some kind of resonance between us. I would like to connect with you through that resonance, and that means being real and taking the risk of being misunderstood.

The other tricky part has to do with writing in the first person and being a therapist. I have been well-trained since the early age of 22 about the proper use of “self-disclosure” and the “professional use of self.” We are taught to be neutral and compassionate witnesses, only revealing some personal challenge if it is relevant to the client. This makes a lot of sense for one-on-one sessions. People deserve to have a counselor’s whole-hearted attention. But it can become a way of being in all public spheres, and it can create an idealized self-image that no one can actually live up to (find the place where the therapists are letting loose—it’s likely to be pretty private). Here’s the secret that’s not really a secret: people are just people. All sorts of healers, teachers, and leaders have fallen from the pedestals we have put them on this past year. I think it’s about time we drop the pretenses and tell the truth of our individual stories. We’ve all got something to teach, and we’ve all got something to learn. No one needs a pedestal; it’s a long fall from that height. 

When I work with someone in individual counseling, facilitate a group, or teach a class, I give myself some time beforehand to release my personal concerns and come back to my heart. I reassert my intention to be of service, and then I can go out and be fully present to the person or people in front of me, responding to what comes up without an agenda. With writing though, it’s almost like speaking into the dark. I don’t really know who is out there! And this is why it’s such a powerful practice for me as a therapist. It’s a stretch to just express without knowing who is on the receiving end of that expression, after being so conditioned to focus on responding to others’ needs.

So writing is a mixed bag for me, but I am committed to facing the demons of doubt and moving forward. Thank you for being here with me, and I wish you much space in your own life for creative expression, authenticity, and always plenty of laughter!

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