I had coffee with a new friend the other day, a fellow entrepreneur. Since it was our first time meeting, we started out chatting about our businesses, what kind of clients we loved to work with, etc.
As we sipped our lattes, the conversation circled to deeper, more intimate topics. The postpartum depression that kicked my ass a few years ago. Her desire to be married at this point in her life, and how her single status can create a sense of isolation for her.
Even though we were relative strangers, we marveled at how human it was for everyone to have that one ( or two or three ) thing that they keep locked down deep inside of themselves. That thing they are sure will make people run away screaming in horror if they revealed. That thing they are profoundly embarrassed or ashamed of. That secret they are sure would banish them from the kingdom of humanity if they shared.
Here’s what I know to be true about That One Thing. Once spoken, once exposed to the air and light, it loses its power over us. It’s tyrannical grip on our psyches loosen and we can breathe again. And we discover that we are not the only one. We are not alone.
So in that spirit, I am going to share That One Thing for me with all of you. Well, one of them anyway.
I am a therapist. People come to me searching for answers, confused and in pain. While I know that it’s not my job to provide their solutions, deep down there is a part of me that says otherwise.
It’s the part of me that believes I am incompetent if I don’t know. The piece of me that wonders what would happen if I told you that sometimes I sit across from a client and have absolutely no idea what to say. Would you think less of me?
And there’s more. There’s that voice that tells me because I am a therapist, I should have all the answers for myself. I should never struggle or have challenges with the things I help my clients with. If I do, I’m ineffective.
That same voice also wonders what would happen if told you I have to work at self love every day. Boundaries do not come naturally or easily to me. My relationships still confuse and confound me in their messiness. I get triggered as much as the next person and can’t see it. Or I do see it, but don’t know what to do about it. Or don’t want to do what I know to do about it. If you knew all this, would you respect me less?
That even though I teach clients about authenticity, vulnerability and speaking truth, I don’t always practice it. There are plenty of times where I hide out, and sit on what is true for me. When I clearly understand there is a choice to be authentic and open, but I choose to contract and wall off instead. If I told you this, would you think I’m a hypocrite?
And don’t get me started on the moments where I feel like I can not begin to figure my shit out, let alone lead people through a process to figure out their own. Who am I to be a therapist when my life is nothing to write home about sometimes?
So this voice tells me to appear competent at all times. Don’t dare tell people that you don’t know something. Or everything. Or sometimes anything. Or that the work you do with clients is still work for you. That your relationships don’t always go smoothly and are at times incredibly painful to you. That the things you post on social media are as much for your benefit as theirs. Just. Don’t.
If you do, the voice says, nobody will want to work with you. You will be a pariah in the therapy world. People will whisper behind your back “Don’t go see that Candace person. She doesn’t have her shit together and she does not know everything. How can she help you?” Your business will go down in flames.
Yep. In my mind, it’s that catastrophic.
And it is for everyone else who has That One Thing, too.
That’s why it’s so important to share it with at least one other safe person. Getting real with ourselves and others carves out space for authenticity in a world that can be filled with meaningless noise. It puts you on the path to freedom, and invites other people to free themselves as well.
So tell it. Speak it. Sing it. Draw it. Dance it. It does not matter how you get it outside of you. It only matters that you do.
I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment about what spoke to you, and if you are so moved, share your One Thing!