I had a conversation the other day and we talked about his experience of going to see a therapist. He always had this idea that therapists were perfect. And that the therapist had all the answers and that their life was peachy, just perfect. What exactly is perfection to a therapist?
Emotional Fitness is a Skill Set for a Therapist as Physical Fitness is a Skill Set for a Personal Trainer
So, I think this is a good thing to discuss. Logically, you know that a therapist’s life isn’t perfect. And your job is not to emulate the therapist’s life or be anything like the therapist, particularly. The things that a therapist can give, teach, or help you learn, are about being kind to yourself. Therapy is about gaining tools, skills, and perspective to become better at self-regulating; pulling yourself up out of the funks of life, or bringing yourself down when you get overexcited. It’s about learning how to control yourself when you are angry or expressing yourself when you have something to say and you’ve been unable to say it. Therapy is all about teaching you those tools.
How Does a Therapist Train You for Emotional Fitness?
This is not to say that I or any other therapist is perfect at putting those tools into practice. But without someone guiding you along to improve those skills that you don’t have, how can you ever improve them? That’s like trying to get better at push-ups without ever doing them. And the other thing that a therapist can give you, or that maybe a therapist has that you don’t have, is that sense of being kind to yourself. That’s not giving yourself permission to do whatever you want. But it’s being able to understand the motivations for whatever behavior you have shown the world. And making a difference between a value judgment on a behavior and a value judgment on a feeling. Because there is no judgment of feelings. There is only judgment of behavior afterward. So, you can have any feeling you want.
What is Perfection?
I would say the “perfection” of a therapist is allowing themselves to have any feeling they want. And that your only goal in being perfect is to allow yourself to have any feeling you want without judging yourself for it. Because really, that is the perfection of life. Changing your behavior, that’s practice. But allowing yourself to be who you are authentically, with whatever feelings you have, that takes an experience of being in a relationship where you are not judged for the feelings you have. Because your judgment of yourself about feelings you have, your needs, and your longings is part of the foundation of your personal history. It comes from people who were authorities in your life. They taught you that what you needed or wanted or desired or longed for wasn’t okay. And so, therefore, you weren’t okay. There’s a big difference between not being okay fundamentally and behavior not being okay.
So, it’s not you fundamentally that is imperfect. It may be your behavior. But those two are unified in your mind. Perfection is separating them and acknowledging and allowing the authenticity of whatever is inside of you. That is perfection. And you can have that, too.
Are you interested in the perfection of your emotional fitness?
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