Words mean so much.
I’m in a graduate counseling class in which we are learning to lead different types of groups. The experiential component of this course involves us both leading and being a member of a group throughout the term. It has been a wonderful and eye-opening experience. I have learned about myself and about how others approach the world and themselves. The sense of safety and belonging of a trusting group of peers is hard to match.
At the end of class each week, the classmates that were observing the group chime in on what they observed and give feedback. Tonight, and on other occasions, the sweet souls in my class have said such meaningful and kind things about what they observe me doing and saying as a group member and leader.
It has taken over three decades, but I am now able to take a compliment…and actually believe it. I’m also more accepting of constructive criticism. Perhaps it comes from years of tempering my perfectionist tendencies, or from arduous self-work and diligent mindfulness exercises. Whatever the impetus, goodness it feels good to hear the sweet words of another human and accept them–without reservation, without judgement, just acceptance.
I will eternally be indebted to this group of classmates for their kind words, generous disclosure of their feelings, and their shared participation in this journey towards something greater. We are expanding as professionals and individuals, but none of it is done in isolation.
And that my friends is the lesson I have learned. True self-work, for me, cannot be accomplished in isolation. My soul yearns for connection–to be seen, to be heard. Anxiety and self-doubt cannot win.
In my life, I have stumbled upon the inner beast of self-doubt, calling it out of the shadows and exposing it to the examining light of non-judgemental inquiry–and what have I found? That beast I have been careful to avoid is no beast at all, he is a child, he is Me, and he only wants to be seen. Heard. Known. Fear is an illusion, it is only the lack of awareness of the ever-present Love that is available inside, often pushed into the shadows of our subconscious and neglected. Love is a child, and this child is waiting to play.