A Lesson In Exposure: How I Made Myself Vulnerable and Found Acceptance

Have you ever had something on your “to-do” list for days….weeks…(in my case, months!)?  And you keep saying, “I’ll do that later”, or “I’d rather do anything — even my taxes! — than do that”?  I knew that I was certainly avoiding parts of my “to-do” list because I found myself cleaning everything in my house, office, car, instead of facing the looming elephant in the room.

vulnerable-buttlerflies-quote-300x246That elephant, for me, was my professional video.  I have made videos in the past, when I started my practice, but took them down because I didn’t feel like they represented “authentic Kate”.  I tried again last year to film a video, with a new edge and twist to it, trying to be myself but instead getting emotionally overwhelmed.  What was the deal?

So, this March I decided to truly look at what was keeping me stuck and to confront those factors.  In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an amazing type of behavioral therapy I was recently trained in, one of the guiding principles is to define what is meaningful to you and to pursue it, even if that means experiencing some uncomfortable emotions or feelings along the way.

I spent an afternoon writing about why I wanted to film a professional video.  What did it mean to me?  Here’s what I came up with:

  • It gives a glimpse for potential new clients to “meet” me and see what it might be like to work with me in counseling
  • It shows that I’m a real person
  • It gives a bit of info about my theoretical orientation, training, and story
  • It gives some tips for getting started on the therapy journey
  • It makes therapy “accessible” and maybe less “scary”

I still was missing something.  Those don’t seem too intense….why couldn’t I just map out what I want to say, and say it?  With my meaningful goal in hand, I engaged in some “exposure therapy” (also an element of ACT), and tried to film some initial versions of my video. I was feeling quite uncomfortable.  I reflected on a quote I recently heard: “I know that when I’m feeling uncomfortable, I’m about to grow”.  Hmm.

After about an hour of filming, viewing, grunting because there was something “wrong” with it, I took a walk and laid down on a patch of green, bright, vibrant grass and took a deep breath.  I breathed into my body and tried to focus on what was my barrier to creating a video that was “showable”.

I realized my Perfectionist was rearing her hair-sprayed, curly, gum-smacking head and was telling me “IT’S NOT PERFECT ENOUGH!!! YOU CAN’T BE FINISHED UNTIL IT’S PERFECT!”.

Oh, man!  How did I not see this before?  I know my Perfectionist quite well…we have coffee sometimes and chat…and I thought I’d be aware enough of her nosiness that I would realize she was interfering.  I guess she tricked me.  I took another breath and told her: “You are not going to control my video.  But, you did show me something very important.”

So, I went back to my office and filmed my video in no time.  It is entitled “Perfectly Imperfect”.  Sure, it gives me the shivers to ‘put myself out there’ like this, but why not be myself?  Being authentic, human, and showing that I am not perfect is one of the most healing aspects I can offer my clients as they find recovery from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or body image and self esteem issues.

My Perfectionist showed me that, while I’m not going to banish her, she is not always helpful.  She can get in the way of me being myself, which then can build up anxiety and stress…to levels that I don’t always want to stay at.  Getting to understand the times when she is and isn’t helpful has been important for me, and you can also find a way to gently (or not so gently) ask your Critic or Perfectionist or Judge or whomever you have to take a hike for now.

If you are so kind, please view my video and leave a comment with your impressions.  My hope is to model that we are all perfectly imperfect and that, in itself, is freeing.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by and view this!

 

If you are looking to improve self-esteem or overcome destructive eating behaviors, I offer a FREE consultation so please give me a call at 720-340-1443!

2 Responses to “A Lesson In Exposure: How I Made Myself Vulnerable and Found Acceptance”

  1. Kate, what a wonderfully heartfelt post. Your clients are lucky to have someone who can practice these things for herself and show that being vulnerable isn’t as bad as being stuck on the merry go round of perfection!

    • Thank you, Kat! That is what I hoped to portray- that we are “all in the sea together” and figuring things out. I hope to offer some vulnerability to be a segway to learning and healing …I know that certainly was helpful to me! I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment! Would love to hear from others 🙂