Ever had that experience where someone shares something seemingly small with you and in that very moment you realize that they are giving you something that you never want to forget? It was the last year of my social work degree at the University of Manitoba and I was siting in a class and a guest speaker was answering questions about practice. I was one of those students who sat up front (still do) and took notes (again, always have a pen in hand) and hung on almost every word that was spoken. Fertile ground for something important to take root – and in that classroom in 1998 when the words “if you’re not buying what you’re selling it’s not very authentic” were spoken, I heard them and immediately leaned into them hard. These words translated in my mind to a call to action – a call to rigorous self discovery and exploration. They guided me to the wisdom that I would never ask a client to do “work” that I had not already done for myself.
This is not to say that my experiences mirror my clients. Rather that within my own life experience I develop the skills to look inwards and get curious about my own emotions, articulate my needs, and reach out for support when I need it. Cuz here’s the thing – we all need to be seen, we all need to be supported. End. Period. Non-negotiable. We need to put this on repeat in our lives because it doesn’t end, and it doesn’t get easier…it just changes a little as we move through different life stages and phases. I always use to joke with my students that I wanted a t-shirt that read “Under Renovation” or “Work in Progress” as this is key to being a successful clinician with a side benefit of becoming a better human!
So, what do I do? I show up for myself, listen, and move into action in these ways. First, I always start with getting my thoughts and feelings “out” on paper through journaling. I have tried various journals and am always up for a new “journaling trend.” Next, I track my emotions and my mood for a few days and see the ebbs and flows of what is happening for me internally, this takes me to step three. I reach out for support, and this might be as simple as calling up a friend for connection or reaching out for formal support through a counselor. Yes, counselors see counselors…it’s how we get better at what we do…it’s that thing you know that someone once said to 23 year old me “if you’re not buying what your selling…” So, in our sessions I will share with you things I have tried, or things I want to try – we will bounce ideas off of one another and we’ll push into new territory – unexpected, unchartered…and potentially transformational areas of finding the pathway from your past, to your present and to your best possible future self.
I can do hard things, I know this to be true because I have pushed myself into exploration that isn’t always easy. I also know that the learning and growth that comes from this commitment is what makes me confident and connected in my work. Let’s do some hard things together, and let’s discover the learning, the skills, and the ease that awaits when we work through the things that hold us back.