What's Therapy Got to Do with It
It’s often been said that every millennial has a therapist. And many times, it’s said in jest. Except I don’t think there’s anything funny about it.
My generation gets a lot of flak, but what I love about us is that we are not afraid to call a thing a thing. We are not afraid to put in work to ensure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. How often are we walking around with blind spots that make us less than optimal leaders or less than optimal in our relationships? This can have devastating impacts on our teams, our loved ones, and our personal growth.
Soul Piercing Question
You clearly have the capacity. What's stopping you?
I remember sitting across from our Company President 6 years ago. He pierced my soul with a simple question. “When are you going to be ready to take on more? You clearly have the capacity and ability. What’s stopping you?” Tears welled up in my eyes. They represented all the fears and stories I had been telling myself for so many years.
To answer his question, I’d have to dig back into the most formative year of my life - age seven. My family suffered devastating financial loss, which caused a lot of instability and pain. I didn’t know how much that affected my adult years. I saw all the positives of how resilient, scrappy, and relentless the difficult times made me, but I didn’t understand the dark side of it, which made me incredibly fearful and risk averse. All I knew was that I had achieved a level of financial and career success that I never could have imagined, and my #1 goal was to hold onto it and not mess it up. So, when this pesky question about taking a promotion kept coming up, I would clam up. Running through my mind were a million “what if” scenarios. As a sales rep at the time, I could mostly control my income – and I had gotten really good at it. If I took a new role, I’d be taking an initial pay cut. I feared the unknown - what job should I do? Could I do that job well? After driving myself to exhaustion with innumerable scenarios, I realized I could benefit from seeing a therapist.
Do the Work
Choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid at the exact same time.
I have been seeing my therapist for over 5 years now and I very much keep her on speed dial 😊. Together we uncovered many of my limiting beliefs and, we continue to grapple with them to this day. I am forever grateful for her guidance and support. In therapy, I realized how some of my childhood memories shaped me and how they were still preventing me from showing up as my best self. Slowly but surely, we replaced those lies with truth and I grew into a stronger, more confident woman. To be clear, this is incredibly hard and sometimes I can't believe that I am still dealing with the same fears. But I remind myself that it is brave and important work. Brené Brown puts it best, "Choose courage over comfort. Choose whole hearts over armor. And choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid at the exact same time."
When I encounter colleagues, who have difficulty expressing themselves or any other variety of situations, I often wonder what undealt with emotions they may have that drives them to behave this way. My question to you is “what’s on the other side of that nagging feeling that you keep ignoring? What could it look like if you dealt with your unspoken fears and hurts?” I challenge and encourage us all to “do the work” and explore those areas that plague us - that make us lack empathy or understanding. We owe it to our colleagues, our families, and most importantly, to ourselves.
It Pays Dividends
It made me a more empathetic leader, a better listener, and it made me have more grace for myself.
I could have never imagined the dividends that investment in therapy would pay. Because I took the first step, it led me from being scared to leave my sales territory in New Jersey to greater roles of influence in my organization. It led me to Moldova on a life changing mission trip, it led me to Colombia to do amazing work with Operation Smile, and it led me to Singapore for the hardest and best two years of my life. It made me a more empathetic leader, a better listener, and it made me have a lot more grace for myself. I hope my experience will encourage you to explore your limiting beliefs and how you might overcome them to unlock all that is within you.
You can do it!
PS Let me know - have you worked with a therapist before? If not, what concerns do you have about it?