In retrospect, my story of how I became a therapist seems clear – as though everything that I’ve experienced was pointing to this direction, it all fits together perfectly. But, when I was in the midst of my personal and situational struggles, things didn’t seem as clear. It was difficult to understand there was a bigger purpose to it all, but now I know that there always was. If we follow our inner guidance and instinct, things always work out for us exactly as they need to.
Here are a few things, I can tell without a doubt, that were foreshadowing my future as a wounded healer.
The very first nudge was when I started reading a book called “The Road Less Traveled.”
I was about 16 years old, and I still have my journal in which I wrote my takeaways from that book. I was so intrigued and fascinated there was a profession in which you have conversations with people and have a peak into their innermost world. A profession in which you are piecing together why people may be doing what they’re doing, even while they’re not fully aware of it yet. That book blew my mind and opened up a whole new world of possibilities. From then on, I fell in love with personal growth books. They opened up a world that I didn’t know existed. The books had a profound effect on me by giving me a strong sense of personal responsibility, and they instilled in me an understanding that I am the creator of my internal world.
Another factor was an interest in my own personality and that of others.
I was always an empath, but of course at that time I had never heard of that term, so I was labeled as shy and too sensitive. Being my mom’s confidant, I learned early on to be attuned to other people’s needs and was always more comfortable when the spotlight was on others. In the most basic sense, I was already being a therapist. When I spent weekends at my grandparents, I would go to my next-door neighbor who was my grandparents’ age, and I’d sit and talk to her for hours. I knew that deeper one-on-one conversations fueled my soul. It was a space in which I came alive, unlike superficial pleasantries which felt unbearable (and still do).
My own struggles and wanting to heal my traumas, grow, and learn.
Being attuned to others came at a price of disconnecting from my true self. For a large portion of my life, I carried a lot of insecurities and shame, never feeling comfortable in my own skin or feeling good enough just being who I was. I never learned how to like myself and continued to (unknowingly) put myself in situations that kept perpetuating self-loathing. I couldn’t shake a nagging gut feeling that I was wasting my days and not living my purpose. After one of the most difficult conversations in my life (with my then boyfriend, now husband) I knew that I must change my life. Starting college at 28 did just that - it changed my life. After my first psychology class, I changed my major to psychology and things started to fall in place from there, leading me towards a career as a psychotherapist.
If you feel like you are not fully living your purpose, which by the way, does not have to be realized through a career, pay attention to the following things:
Once you have your answers, find a way to do those things more frequently and intentionally. You don’t need to wait for a perfect job or relationship. What fulfills you is already available to you, because it’s within you.
Deep change takes giving up, discomfort, not knowing, trial and error, obstacles (both mental and physical), and radical belief in oneself! Wanting different results always requires a different action.
Being in that space between comfort of the known and the discomfort of change is where most people tend to give up, give in, take shortcuts, and try quick fixes. No shame in that, we all prefer to be comfortable - we want the easy route. But comfort is often constricting and it hinders experiencing the fullness of life, change, and growth.
A quick fix is appealing, but ultimately, it’s only a bandaid. It’s only going to appease you for a short while and give you the appearance of things being fixed, healed, and changed. But bandaid doesn’t heal old wounds, that we often carry from our childhood. Over the course of our life, we create strategies to make that wound less visible and less panful, until we come to a point where these strategies become too difficult to manage and we realize that it’s time to heal that wound.
Realizing that the power to heal past hurts and change your life has been in your hands all along is one of the most freeing, yet scary things. Honor that, give yourself compassion, thank yourself for being honest, and for wanting more.
First, be brutally honest with yourself and ask:
What do I need to give up?
What is no longer serving me?
Where have I been giving up my power?
Where can I take more responsibility for my life?
Only you have answers to these questions. They may be difficult to face, but facing them is what will propel you forward. This is where deep, long lasting change takes place and is so worth it!
If you don’t want to do this work alone and want a therapist in your corner, I’d love to guide and support you through both the tough stuff and through the victories.