Archive for September, 2017


September 25th, 2017

Socrates said, “All I know is I know nothing.” I love this statement of humility because it’s so true. As much as we know, we really don’t know. As a seasoned therapist, sometimes I forget this simple truth. I believe that many of the answers are inside of my clients–not somewhere on the outside. And many of these so-called answers are only partial. We need others in our life to get reality checks. We need humility to remind ourselves that it’s ok not to have all the answers.

Last weekend I was a member of a training group with a very talented group therapist from Austin named Katie Griffin. I’ve actually known Katie for many years but not until she came to Los Angeles to facilitate our group therapy conference did I really see her in action. In the training group I became very aware of my own primitive needs for deeper understanding and to be seen for who I truly am. It was a challenging weekend in many respects but also quite satisfying in spite of my so-called needs only getting partially fulfilled. Because we will be meeting every 4 months, I’ll have other opportunities to process these relationships, and it left me longing for more.

As I sat in the group for nine hours over the course of the weekend, it was a terrific reminder of the group experience my group members have each week with one another. Uncomfortable at times and warm and fuzzy at times. But always a chance to learn about oneself and help others learn about themselves. Humility above all.

asking for help

September 8th, 2017

As a recovering perfectionist, I used to think that mistakes were lethal. When I was in 2nd grade, I had an egg carton project that I didn’t understand. Instead of trying to understand the instructions better from my teacher, I suffered in silence. You see, I was too perfect to ask for instructions, directions or anything that might leave me feeling foolish. So I stewed and I stewed and I stewed some more until the pressure cooker broke open into uncontrollable crying.

Why do I remember this seemingly innocent and imperfect moment? Because it was traumatic to me–something I wanted to control but couldn’t because i was a seven year old who wasn’t supposed to know everything about life and certainly not about egg carton projects. If I recall correctly, my grandmother came to my aid and helped me understand that this was a relatively simple problem leaving me with the task to go back to my teacher for further clarification.

So what does this have to do with recovery? Well, perfectionism leads to shame and shame leads to withdrawal and withdrawal leads to acting out. Acting out in some form or another to escape and numb out the feelings of shame and profound loneliness. When I was 7, I didn’t know how to ask for help–I had the idea that I was supposed to be self-sufficient. Nowadays, I still carry the distorted belief that I am supposed to pull up my bootstraps and solve all of my problems on my own, but the ongoing challenge is to practice humility and depend on the dependable people around me.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have emotionally-reliable people in my life, and these are the folks to lean on. Not the myth that it’s all up to me and certainly not trying to find someone unavailable to rescue me. But to know who “my people” really are and to cultivate and cherish those solid relationships around me.