I goofed. Then I felt regret and embarrassment about goofing. Anybody else ever been there?
In a recent presentation, that I think went well by the way, I quickly blew past a question and blithely mentioned that people rarely leave therapy with me prematurely. Hear the arrogance? Boy I sure did, just a minute later. It was cringeworthy.
In short order, I began recalling the sweet faces and stories of those folks who found their way to me only to stay for a session or two before moving on. Some of those good folks may be in your kind and more than capable care right now.
In the presentation, I got caught up in my own enthusiasm for this work, thinking of the phenomenal transformation of those who stay with me. It was apparently a short jaunt from enthusiasm to arrogance.
Arrogance and embarrassment rob us of the present and prevent professional growth. Without my personal AAIT practice, I think I’d still be mucking around the dark territory of embarrassment heading into shame, before bopping into some distorted arrogant perspective.
Instead, I found an inner strength in the integration of humility into this charged pain. Humility has a depth and steadiness I don’t think I fully appreciated until now. It also opened the door for me to easily forgive myself and let this be part of my past and not part of my future.
We all goof. We just do. That’s not the point.
The point is how do we learn from and release the goof?
This goof got me thinking about being in graduate school and working in community mental health and the Western Institute of Neuropsychiatry in the couple of years after before I went full time private practice. When clients dropped out we had postmortems with the whole team comprising social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and nurses.
These post mortems were so useful. This whole experience illuminated for me something that is missing in most private practices. I’m not even sure this is still done in community mental health settings. They help us keep people from falling through the cracks. I can see the value of adding some version of this in my practice.
A tad more humble, I also remain grateful for the compassion and discipline of those those early teams of professionals who gave me, a baby social worker, the structure and support to clearly look at my own goofs.
What have you learned from your goofs?