Episode 33: Worthiness, Perfectionism & Self Compassion

Therapy Chat Podcast Episode 33: 

Worthiness, Perfectionism & Self Compassion

Hitting My Growth Edge

Click here to listen to this on Therapy Chat podcast! 

Click on the image to hear podcast episode 33!

Click on the image to hear podcast episode 33!

Once in a while an experience comes along which is just beyond what you ever imagined. It’s like you never really dreamed things would get this good. I don’t know if everyone has a growth ceiling, but I think most of us do. It’s the point that is the highest you thought you’d ever go in your life. It might be that you thoughtyou’d one day get married, but you hit your growth ceiling when you make plans to marry someone so wonderful, who seems so much better than the partner you thought you’d end up with. This can cause a lot of anxiety, because we are going past what our expectations were for ourselves. Another example – maybe you hoped you’d become a doctor, but you didn’t expect to attain the position of CEO of a huge medical organization.

Maybe you always fantasized about being a musician but you weren’t expecting to be invited to write all the songs for the next Broadway hit. For me, I always hoped to become a therapist (and there were many times I doubted I’d achieve that goal). I even thought one day I might go into private practice. I never imagined having a thriving full time private practice where I’d love going to work with the clients I most enjoy serving. I never expected to have a podcast and when I did begin podcasting I surely didn’t think I’d have the chance to interview so many wonderful guests. I really never even dreamed I’d be able to interview someone like Dr. Dan Siegel. I’d admired Dan Siegel’s work on the neuroscience of attachment for about 6 years when I made a contact who facilitated my opportunity to interview him. It was then that my feelings of scarcity began to show up and loudly make themselves known.

Scarcity Rears Its Ugly Head

As soon as I heard the news that Dan Siegel had agreed to be interviewed I was elated. I was literally screaming and jumping up and down. Yes, it was that big of a deal to me! It only took about a day for me to begin wondering what was going to happen to prevent this from happening because I knew it must be too good to be true. In Brené Brown’s work, she calls this “foreboding joy.” She talks about when she was on the plane to go be interviewed for the first time by Oprah and she was super excited, but a delay was announced. Immediately she realized the plane was likely to crash and she would never have her moment with Oprah. Every time the foreboding crept in as the day of my Dan Siegel interview drew closer, I reminded myself of that story.

Kristin Neff's Three Elements of Self Compassion

Kristin Neff's Three Elements of Self Compassion

When thoughts of “who am I to think I, a humble podcaster, am going to interview someone like Dan Siegel, a world famous expert on attachment, neuroscience and mindfulness?” crept into my head, I reminded myself of Brené Brown on her way to Oprah and told myself to stay in the moment. Just feel how excited I am, and stay with that. I’m a podcaster, and I have a platform to ask Dan Siegel some questions. There’s no reason the Universe (God, Source, whatever spiritual being fits for you) would think I don’t “deserve” to interview him. In fact, the Universe doesn’t think Dan Siegel is more worthy as a human being than I am, because to the Universe, we are all equally worthy. Here I used the three elements of Self Compassion identified by Dr. Kristin Neff: self kindness, common humanity and mindfulness.

Worthiness and Shame

Even as I used self compassion and mindfulness to help me remember that it’s okay to feel really excited about the amazing opportunity to interview someone I respect so highly on Therapy Chat, I struggled with scarcity. Here’s how I knew I was operating from a place of scarcity:

I didn’t want to tell my podcasting friends I was interviewing Dan Siegel. Why? I was secretly afraid it wouldn’t happen. I was secretly afraid they would snag him before me. I was secretly afraid something would happen to make them all see that I’m a fraud and a phony, and that I was a fool to think I could ever interview someone like that. I told a few trusted friends (only one was a podcaster – this person has a totally different podcast focus) and family. I’m hiding this exciting news like I’ve got a shameful secret.  In truth I really doubted I was worthy. I was so starstruck! It was kind of ridiculous, looking back. For all of his accomplishments, Dan Siegel is just a person. A brilliant person, but still just a person.

So the day finally came. It was my big moment. I have never been so prepared. I checked and double checked everything. I made sure I didn’t schedule anything else that day except for dinner out with good friends and my husband afterwards. We had the interview. It was incredible. I felt like I was floating, I was so happy to be able to interview Dan Siegel. It was a fascinating conversation and when it was over I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I immediately checked the recording to make sure everything was okay.

Here’s where things get ugly. Everything wasn’t okay. When I listened to the recording, I only heard my voice. There was no Dan Siegel voice. I actually wondered whether I had hallucinated the whole thing. If so, I knew I was really losing it. I tried several things to see if I could get his voice to come up, and I couldn’t. I called a podcasting friend, Christy, to see if she could help me. She kindly and generously spent an hour on the phone with me trying everything to fix the recording. She never shamed me or made me feel stupid. But it was all for naught. It turned out I had a bad version of the recording software many of us use, and I never knew because before that day it had always worked great. Apparently after an update there was a compatibility issue with Skype, which I use to conduct my interviews.

How Self Compassion Saved Me!

But this is the crazy part. I wasn’t freaking out. After all that buildup, to find out the episode didn’t record, I would normally have gone into a shame spiral. I would have been so embarrassed, thinking, “I knew I was crazy to think this was going to happen for me!” I would have felt like I didn’t want anyone to know what happened. I would have wanted to hide. But I didn’t feel that way. Even though it didn’t record, the thoughts and feelings that made up about 95% of my conscious awareness were: wow, I just had such an amazing discussion with Dan Siegel. How lucky am I that I got to have that beautiful conversation. I even thought, “how can I be upset? I just got to spend an hour having a personal conversation with Dan Siegel that I will never forget, and I’m considering the nature of consciousness and the Universe...” Of course, I immediately reached out to his assistant, apologetically explaining there was a technology failure, and requesting to re-record if possible. In the past I would have been so afraid to let him know everything got screwed up and his time was wasted. But basically I felt that I hoped he would agree to re-record, and if he didn’t, then it would be okay. Not because I didn’t care, but because I was at peace.  I can only attribute this sense of calm belief that everything would be okay to my self compassion practice.

I’m not going to pretend that I have this Zen lifestyle in which I meditate daily for an hour and nothing rattles me. But I have been practicing self compassion, through regular meditation, since September 2014 when I learned about it at Brené Brown’s Daring Way™ training. If you’re interested in doing this (developing a self compassion practice), you can find free Self Compassion guided meditations on Kristin Neff’s website, www.selfcompassion.org. I also highly recommend her book, Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.

My self compassion practice saved me. After all of this, I had sent the e-mail to Dan Siegel’s assistant and then I went out to dinner with my husband and our friends, a therapist and her husband, a college professor.  I told them all what happened and I wasn’t that horrified. Don’t get me wrong. I felt bad that Dan Siegel’s time was wasted. But other than that I was still feeling gratitude and some disbelief that I had such an amazing conversation with him. I just couldn’t find myself feeling devastated. And I didn’t want to hide. I wasn’t ashamed. I wasn’t blaming myself. This is different. The perfectionist in me would have fallen apart 2 years ago. It was incredible to observe myself and the difference my self compassion practice has made in my life, and I felt so grateful for that change! What a better way to feel.

My sense of worthiness remained intact; I told all of my friends who knew about it what happened. People were shocked, horrified, several friends said they had tears in their eyes imaging how they’d feel if that happened to them. They felt humiliated and ashamed for me! But I told them they didn’t need to worry about it, because I was okay. And late that evening I received a very kind and non-shaming e-mail from Dan Siegel’s assistant saying that they were sorry to hear about the technology failure and he was willing to re-record. I was so grateful, and I can’t wait for you to hear our interview in Episode 34, which will air next week.  I even mentioned to Dan Siegel how I felt about it and how mindfulness helped when we re-recorded. I would never have been able to say that to him if I were operating from a place of shame – I would have hoped he’d forgotten and be afraid to mention it. It’d be the elephant in the room. You’ll hear how he reacted in Episode 34.

So that’s my story. I can’t recommend self compassion practice enough. It has truly changed my life, and this experience proved that to me. Please check out Episode 34 and if you like Therapy Chat, visit iTunes to leave a rating and review, download episodes and subscribe so you can hear the latest episodes as soon as they’re released. Thanks for listening!

You can also listen on Stitcher and Google Play (available now!). And for more of what I'm doing, please  sign up for my newsletter. You can also sign up for information on my Daring Way™ offerings and other groups and workshops; sign up to receive the latest episodes of Therapy Chat when they're released; sign up to receive my latest blog posts when they are posted, and follow me on TwitterFacebookPinterest, Instagram & Google+If you're a trauma therapist you may be interested in my new Trauma Therapist Community, forming now. Click here for the info. I look forward to connecting! 

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

 

Coming Home To Yourself: My Interview With Mara Glatzel

Podcast Episode 23: Coming Home To Yourself

March 11, 2016

Listen here! or click on the image to the right.

Welcome! Today’s guest is Mara Glatzell, MSW. She is an intuitive guide and energy healer for women who facilitates daily conversations about intention, truth, and celebration. A creative leader, Mara is expert at living in her own skin with grace and ease. At the core of her work is the desire to live a well-intentioned life, which means more joy, grit, and vibrant imperfection to spare. She is MY kind of person—how about you? Her website makes you feel warm, glittery, and nurturing, and her writings and programs are truly inspiring. Want to learn more? Join us!

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Mara works with women who want to live with more intention and responsibility.
  • She likes to take nebulous concepts that are hidden in layers and break them down into tangible, relatable pieces.
  • Mara’s work isn’t like other therapies or focused on symptoms, but is based on self-love and self-compassion.
  • Mara found this niche after finding herself “not fitting into” the standard therapy role.
  • She knows what it means to struggle with body image, fears, and trusting yourself.
  • When we sacrifice ourselves in order to “belong” to the world around us, then loneliness is the result.
  • You can have all the “right” things happening in your life, and be MISERABLE!
  • Mara’s writing background flows perfectly into her intimate newsletter offerings, which happens to be her very favorite place to write!
  • Mara is gifted in being able to talk about difficult topics in ways that people can receive them.
  • Her newsletter features the unusual option, “Click here if you want me to read this to you.” People love it!
  • “Why aren’t there MORE spaces in which people are lovingly spoken to?”
  • Mara’s “Open to Receive” program is offered at certain times throughout the year, but is now being offered as an on-demand resource on her website with daily audio to support and nurture.
  • Mara offers classes, e-courses,  workshops, online resources, and events. She loves group work and one-on-one work, too!
  • Sign up for her “The Ferocious Truth” event, starting in two days! “The Deep Exhale” comes later in the spring. Visit www.maraglatzel.com/newsletter for more info about events, resources, and more!

If you liked this episode, please visit iTunes to download episodes, rate and review! You can also listen on Stitcher and when Google Play supports podcasting, it will be available there too! And for more of what I'm doing please sign up for my newsletter, and follow me TwitterFacebookPinterest Instagram & Google+. I look forward to connecting!

Therapy Chat Podcast

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

What If You Could Show Up and Be Seen As You Really Are?

Today's post explores the first of Brené Brown's "Guideposts for Wholehearted Living" from her book The Gifts of Imperfection. If you're reading the book title and thinking, "How could imperfection possibly be a gift?!!" then this is a great book for you to read. I thought the same thing at first, and I absolutely love this book. I frequently recommend it to my clients. So if you're interested in understanding how the Guideposts can help you live your life more wholeheartedly, then read on! 

What If You Could Show Up For Who You Really Are?

In my last post of this series on living an authentic life, I listed the Guideposts and how I (and many other people) have used them to help me live my life in a more fulfilling and joyful way.  The first Guidepost is: Cultivating Authenticity - Letting Go of What People Think. That can be a tough one. What does it mean to you? 

Here in the greater Annapolis area, where I live and work with clients, it can be really hard to let go of worrying about what other people think. Conformity is prized in our community, and fitting in feels better than being excluded. I think that is true no matter where you live. But what if you aren't the same as everyone else? I'm kidding. None of us is the same as everyone else! We're all unique, and our differences are what make us who we are. For some reason, though, we tend to hide what makes us unique in order to fit in with the group. 

If you want to dig deeper into Brené Brown's work, join me July 17-19 when 6 women will use The Daring Way™ model to discover how connecting with their most authentic selves can help them build meaningful relationships and live wholeheartedly. Click here for details.

When you don't like who you really are it can be tempting to hide, pretending to be someone you're not. You might find yourself trying on different personas until you find one that people respond to in a positive manner. This often starts in childhood, and some of us are so skilled at it that we don't even realize we're doing it anymore. It becomes automatic, like a chameleon changing color to fit its surroundings. Eventually you may wonder, "Who am I, really?"

There are many common strategies that are used by people to get by. One of these strategies is going along with things that you don't really want to do. You may hate playing golf, but you do it to fit in with your work friends because it seems to be expected. Another strategy that many people use is participating in social gatherings with people who don't talk about meaningful subjects, instead limiting conversation to surface matters. There is a time and place for this, but if these interactions are your only social relationships, it can feel lonely and hollow to feel as if you have no one to talk to who understands what you're going through.  It's isolating, and you may even think that you are the only one who wants to talk about anything more than the weather, what home improvements your neighbors have done recently, and which Kindergarten teacher you want your child to have next year. 

Many women compensate for such feelings by anticipating other people's needs and trying to meet them before the person asks. Our society emphasizes women's role as caregivers, and sometimes this helps us avoid thinking about our own needs. It's usually met with a positive reaction from others, too. Are you the woman who always brings the perfect dish to the neighborhood gathering and the first one to start cleaning up for the hostess when the evening comes to an end?  Do you have a hostess gift every time you show up for an informal happy hour at your neighbor's house and send a thank you note as soon as you get home that evening? Are you the one who is always doing favors for everyone else in the community? There's no doubt that you have impeccable manners and others probably appreciate everything you do for them. But are you doing this because you want to, or because you want to be liked? Don't get me wrong, I want to be liked too - we all do - but I would prefer to be liked for who I really am, rather than how good I can make the other person feel about themselves. What about you? Would you rather be liked for your true, authentic self (even if you don't always have time to send a thank you note right away) or for your ability to change your behavior to suit the other person? People pleasing and hiding our true selves can create a prison with us trapped inside. How can you ask for help when you need it (and we all need it at times) if you are too busy taking care of everyone else?

What would it take for you to believe that your own combination of unique qualities is what makes you special? Think about it. What do people like about you? Is it your outrageous sense of humor? Your joyful laugh? Your artistic ability? Do you have a great singing voice? Maybe you make the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Do you have a family recipe that you have mastered but you never cook it for your friends because it represents your family's cultural heritage which is embarrassing to you? It might be hard to imagine showing your neighbors, friends and co-workers your true self. Are you afraid they wouldn't like the real you? Or worse, do you feel like you don't even know the real you anymore?

For many of us it can be difficult to imagine being accepted as we are, with the pretense stripped away. It might be easier if you imagine a child. Whether you have children of your own, or you have children in your family - nieces, nephews, cousins - or your neighborhood. What would you tell a child about being the same as everyone else? Can we agree that each child is unique and special exactly as he or she is? Sometimes it's easier to believe that when thinking about children than ourselves. But let's remember that we all started out as children too, and our special qualities didn't stop being valuable just because we have grown up. 

It's important for your own well-being and that of your children, if you have them, that you understand that you are just right, right now, exactly as you are.  If you have trouble believing that, and want to work on connecting with your authentic self so you can feel confident showing up as you really are, get in touch with me! I would love to work with you on this. I am certified to use The Daring Way™ method, based on the research of Brené Brown, to build shame resiliency and help you remember what you loved about yourself when you were a child.  You deserve to love yourself for who you are, and to stop hiding your true self from the important people in your life! To work with me see below for contact info.

If you want to dig deeper into Brené Brown's work, join me July 17-19 when 6 women will use The Daring Way™ model to discover how connecting with their most authentic selves can help them build meaningful relationships and live wholeheartedly. Click here for details.

Brené Brown's Guideposts to Wholehearted Living

Thanks for reading this installment of the blog series on living authentically. If you like what I've written here, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for more. You can also sign up for my e-mail newsletter, which is sent every so often with updates on new offerings including workshops, groups and intensives, as well as recent blog posts and news about the practice.

Have you ever wondered whether you'd still be accepted if people knew the real you? If you're afraid of the answer, but brave enough to want to find out anyway, then get in touch with me! You can call me at (443) 510-1048, send me an e-mail at laurareaganlcswc@gmail.com, or visit my website for more information and to schedule an appointment

Source:

Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, MN: Hazelden.

Are Some People More Authentic Than Others?

This blog was originally published in April, 2015 but I have updated it to include some new information as well as the link to the episode of the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast released in September, 2015 related to the Guideposts and an upcoming workshop. You can always find up to date information on events I'm hosting on my website: www.laurareaganlcswc.com

Welcome to the second post in the blog series on creating a life that feels authentic, using Brené Brown's "Guideposts to Wholehearted Living," which she describes in detail in her book The Gifts of Imperfection (one of my very favorites!), her last bestseller, Daring Greatly and her newest bestseller Rising Strong.  This blog was originally published in April, 2015 but I have updated it to include some new information as well as the link to the podcast episode released in September, 2015 on this subject.

If you're interested in going deeper with Brené Brown's work, join me for an intensive weekend in Severna Park where 6 women will use the Daring Way™ to build deep connection so they can show up authentically in relationships and live more wholeheartedly.

I won't pretend that this blog series will achieve the level of detail included in Dr. Brown's books - which I highly recommend you read - but I hope it can serve as an introduction to help you think about how you can move toward a more authentic and wholehearted lifeAt the end of this post I will tell you about how you can work with me using The Daring Way™, based on the research of Brené Brown, to develop authentic connection with yourself and others. 

I often talk about living authentically and wholeheartedly. I aspire to live my life in a way that makes me feel as if my soul purpose and my actions are aligned. That's not an easy task in a world that tells us to look and act a certain way in order to be accepted. Sometimes it feels like there is little space for showing up as our true selves. Of course, I'm a unique individual, just like you are, and what makes us who we are is what's special about us. There is no one else like you or me. So why is it so tempting to hide our true selves so we can fit in

For me, hiding how I feel inside is a skill I've practiced for 43 years so far (though for the past 10 years I've been working on changing that habit). I got to be good enough at doing it that I didn't even notice when it was happening. In fact, there was a time when I didn't even know how I felt inside. It was all just kind of jumbled up, leaving me with a general sense of malaise that I didn't really understand. How did I perfect the ability to block out my feelings? It helped that I was frequently counseled not to be "so sensitive" as a child, and I picked up our societal message that it's not a good idea to cry in public when I was quite young. Even when the message wasn't directed toward me, I saw the horror and disgust on others' faces when someone would cry in school. I vowed at an early age that would not be me! How sad. Crying is a normal response to feeling sad, mad, confused, scared, or overwhelmed. Or all of the above!

As I continued on the journey of my life. the various disappointments and tragedies I experienced (as we all do, inevitably) caused me pain that I didn't want to feel. Do you like pain? No, neither do I. Even joyful experiences can bring pain. Having children is wonderful, but once you allow your heart to feel that much love, you have so much more to lose if anything were to happen to them! And when something causes them pain and you can't do anything to make it better? Ouch! 

Later, as a social worker/counselor in training during college and grad school, I felt it was very important to avoid showing how upsetting the stories of abuse, oppression and injustice were for me because I wanted to prove I was tough (not weak!). While it's true that one must maintain professionalism in the role of a social worker or counselor, there is a time and place for letting those feelings out in supervision, consultation and personal psychotherapy. Pretending something doesn't bother us is not an effective way to avoid feeling the pain.   I associated vulnerability (letting my guard down) with weakness. Have you ever felt this way?

So what's the deal? Are some people just simply more authentic than others? Why can some people show the world who they really are, in every situation?  And are these people happier than the rest of us? These are some of the questions Brené Brown's research was able to answer and her answers are summarized in the 10 Guideposts. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brown defines authenticity as "the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we really are." The Guideposts explain what people who live wholeheartedly do differently from the rest of us.

Brené Brown's Guideposts to Wholehearted Living from the Gifts of Imperfection:

1. Cultivating Authenticity - Letting Go of What People Think

2. Cultivating Self-Compassion - Letting Go of Perfectionism

3. Cultivating A Resilient Spirit - Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy - Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith Letting Go of the Need for Certainty

6.  Cultivating Creativity - Letting Go of Comparison

7. Cultivating Play and Rest - Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness - Letting Go of Anxiety As a Lifestyle

9. Cultivating Meaningful Work Letting Go of Self-Doubt and "Supposed To"

10. Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance - Letting Go of Being Cool and "Always In Control"

This blog series will discuss each of the Guideposts in more detail with future posts. As you read the list, what feelings come up for you? Does this resonate? It certainly did with me when I read it for the first time. Do you follow the Guideposts in your life? Do you want to find a way to incorporate them?

I've shared with you some of the challenges which have interfered with living my life as authentically as I'd like, in hopes that you will see that I'm not here to tell you what you "should" do to live wholeheartedly - I'm on this journey too.  The Daring Way™ training, which I attended in September 2014, changed me and I want to share it with as many people as possible.

I am a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator and I'm excited to be able to offer this model in individual therapy, with groups and in workshops. I also use the model in Clinical Supervision for Maryland social workersIf you want to dig deeper with this work, click here to find out about the Daring Women Weekend Intensive for a small group of women. Discounts are available for two people who register together.  I am offering an introductory 1 Day Workshop and I plan to offer the Rising Strong™ method in the near future. You can also read about the special intensive Couple's Workshop opportunity. And for a more in-depth discussion of perfectionism and the Guideposts

What did you think of this podcast episode? I'd love to hear your comments! You can also rate and review the podcast on iTunes by clicking here. And if you'd like to hear more from me you can sign up for my occasional newsletter! I don’t send them out unless I have something I want you to know, and you can unsubscribe any time you want. You can also follow me  on TwitterFacebookPinterestInstagram and Google+. To listen to my podcast, search the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and (coming soon) Google Play. Or click here to listen via my website. 

Cheers!

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

 

Click on the image below to listen to the podcast episode on the Guideposts.

Click on the image below to listen to all the podcast episodes released thus far. If you like it, please subscribe on iTunes and leave an honest review!

Click on this image to listen to the podcast.

Click on this image to listen to the podcast.

To find out more give me a call at (443) 510-1048e-mail me at laura@laurareaganlcswc.com; follow me on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest, and sign up for my e-mail newsletter for updates.  You can hear more from me by listening to The Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy PodcastIf you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe on iTunes and consider leaving an honest review.

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, CDWF     Psychotherapist, Consultant, Clinical Supervisor, Blogger, Podcaster

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, CDWF

Psychotherapist, Consultant, Clinical Supervisor, Blogger, Podcaster

Connect with Your Authentic Self!