Baring your soul to your psychotherapist is like baring your bum to your doctor. It’s just what you do – it’s built in to the expectations of the relationship. But baring your soul to other people in your life…well, that’s usually the harder part. But when we do it, we often find ourselves in the space of the intimacy, vulnerability, and love. And that’s the good stuff of life.
Why is the idea of baring your soul so challenging? Many of us grew up in family systems where the idea of being emotionally open was frowned upon – especially with boys and men. Sometimes we receive these messages directly (“boys don’t cry”) and other times we get them indirectly – like when my tears elicit subtle looks of discomfort or disapproval, or you suddenly remember something more important that you needed to do. Sure, it’s not that my emotional vulnerability made you uncomfortable. It’s that this is really the only moment for cleaning out the garbage disposal. Again.
My favorite TED Talk comes from author/presenter/researcher Brene Brown who studies topics that make most of us squeamish: shame and vulnerability. She mentions the wisdom of respecting our own integrity by sharing our intimate stories only with those who have earned the right to hear them.
I’ve been a psychotherapist in private practice for the last ten years, and have earned the right to hear many of these stories. I am honored by this, and after a full day of seeing clients, I am usually left with a sense of gratitude and hope. Not because the problems that my clients present are so much greater than mine. On the contrary, when we are open and vulnerable with one another, we experience a deeper level of appreciation for our shared humanity, and our common divinity.
Baring your soul to your psychotherapist is a really good idea. And doing so is also good practice for other relationships. Baring your soul to an Americana singer songwriter is also a good idea. At least as far as the songwriter is concerned.
Americana singer songwriter Jeremy Dion puts as much energy into his guitar playing as he does his songwriting. Dion is an Americana Singer Songwriter Psychotherapist.
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