I read the email, smiled, and kept moving on – forgetting to savor the moment, forgetting to acknowledge my accomplishment. I do that a lot, I’ve realized. I move on without pausing to rest in satisfaction over what I have accomplished.
So now, I am trying to make a practice of slowing it down. I’m trying to consciously spend some time recognizing and celebrating the work I have done – both when it comes to this recent accomplishment and in general.
As you may know, The Daring Way™ is Brené Brown’s signature program for therapists and helping professionals. Like many others, I first got to know Brené through her TED talk about vulnerability. It really felt like she was talking directly to me.
She was speaking about the power of vulnerability and how wholehearted living begins when we’re able to be vulnerable. As a therapist, I’ve always placed a high value on the willingness to be vulnerable. It’s something I’ve always strived for and longed for, but, as I said, Brené managed to make these truths new and compelling
From the first moment I heard her speak, I knew then that I would be using her work throughout my sessions in some way – and I have been. I’ve read the books and intertwined her teachings with my own practice whenever it’s appropriate.
And then, fascination becomes action
I signed up to train as a Daring Way™ facilitator to learn how to reach and help my clients in a deeper, more lasting way. Sure, it was a big commitment and it was often difficult to take time away from my family, but I was dedicated to building my professional skills.
The big surprise: the person I would be helping most when I signed up for TDW would be me (at least in the early stages of the journey). Funny how that happens: we give ourselves permission to do something to grow professionally that we might never do “just for me” and we end up benefiting at every level.
One reason the Daring Way™ appeals to me is that it feels like an expression of what I have long understood to be my own superpower: a sacred knowing deep within me enables me to connect with others when they are feeling most vulnerable. And through that connection, I can help people see themselves, understand themselves, and heal themselves.
The more I learned from Brené about the true power and potential of vulnerability, the more I got to really know something I thought I already knew: to really invite someone to be vulnerable and to hold them through that moment of vulnerability, you need to allow yourself to walk the talk.
Translation: the therapist needs to figure out how to get comfortable with her own vulnerability too.
In the space I hold for others, I am able to find myself. In fact, I need to be able to find myself. And when I am most myself, I am most able to let you be yourself.
This doesn’t mean the conversation becomes all about my story – that’s the opposite of what we do in your therapy session. Instead, this allows for true connection and a sense of belonging. This is the space in which my client can feel heard and seen in a safe and trusting space.
So Much of Vulnerability Is About Being Seen: My Own Daring Journey
I started the journey by saying “yes.” I said yes to investing the money, making the trips, being away from my family comforts, meeting new people, and accepting so many little challenges that crept up just to go to the training.
But mostly I said “yes” to being seen.
I said “yes” to telling my story. I spoke truths to a group of other therapists going through the same process as all of us shared and learned together.
This was the beginning of something big for me. Saying “yes” has meant that I don’t get to go back to the old ways I had of hiding out. As a mom, a wife, and a therapist, I’m nearly always helping someone else. It’s easy to avoid being vulnerable when you tell yourself that you need to care for others all the time. It’s easy to prioritize other people’s growth and healing above your own.
There’s another key concept in Brené’s work, particularly in Daring Greatly: step into the arena. Because of the work I’ve been doing, I am stepping into the arena like never before. I am willing to be all in, to be seen, to be vulnerable in more aspects of my work and life. And, while I am somedays dirty and feeling weary from the struggle, I know it is in service to helping others in a new way.
I’m learning how to lead with my superpower instead of letting it remain a secret.
To say yes, to continue my own daring journey, I gave permission to myself to not know, and to sometimes doubt my own power. I am letting myself be imperfect, to learn. I gave myself permission to get messy.
This journey has not been easy, even though I was committing to growing in a safe place beside colleagues walking the same path. It was really scary to do all these things. Scary to feel vulnerable, open, and fragile. It was so scary to not know what the others would think about my stories, to be unsure about how my struggles would impact them or how they would be judging me. But, as I said, you need to walk the talk – especially when it comes to vulnerability, especially when it comes to being someone who helps create space for others to be vulnerable and to heal their broken spaces.
The Journey Is Just Beginning
Now that I have the certificate in hand and I am making The Daring Way™ a central part of my practice, both with individuals and with the new women’s groups that are now ongoing, I am still going to be on the journey.
As a leader, as a therapist, as a mom, wife, daughter, and friend, I am going to still be scared and unsure and imperfect (and probably more often than I am ready to admit!). I am still going to be human.
And yet, I am also going to be more secure and ready and strong than I’ve ever been before.
Through this experience over the last year, the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that ALL the parts of me are ok – even the anxiety, the fears, the “weak” points where my flaws are most easily exposed. The “bad” parts of me are not meant to be orphaned from my good parts – they are meant to be integrated. I am meant to be made whole. Everyone is meant to rumble with all parts of themselves and be held while they find a way to become whole.
And, in taking risks and tending to my own process of self-acceptance and integration, I can help make others whole. Because I have walked the path – because I will keep walking the path – I can help you find a way to a place where all of your fears and joys are permitted to live.
Because I paused to celebrate my own achievement, because I took the time to write it down and describe it to you (including the messy, doubt-filled bits of the story), because I took the time to think about my own experience and my own struggles, I am able to hold space for you and welcome you to do your own work when it comes to vulnerability and the quest for wholehearted living.
I invite you to join me in my Martinsburg office for one of the new groups that will be forming. For details please go here or opt-in for my email list to continue to be notified of any upcoming groups and retreats.