Try Imperfection: The Confidence Hack

Person laughing poolside with a red tile around the pool and hoops in their ears, picture is by Jeff Vinluan from

Dear soft hearts, I want to tell you about a time when I walked through perfection to get to doing it imperfectly and finding my ray of sun in my work. My balm to burn out. My spark. The way I could contribute in a more sustainable manner and match what my clients needed from me.

I spent most of my training years working with marginalized populations and learning a new language and doing therapy in that new language.  I saw many of my peers learning manualized treatments and specialty stuff, and I wasn’t sure I had the mental organization to stick with it or the follow through to finish a specialized training.  

I went from listening to an interpreter in PhD level courses to being fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and giving whole courses in ASL.  I even ended up teaching a college course in ASL.  I focused my training throughout on folks with spinal cord injuries, acute stress from car accidents, cancer, amputations and other physical rehab/health psychology stuff.  I focused more training on working with people with very few resources, including gender diverse adolescents and adults.  I still didn’t learn a manualized treatment.  I even told myself it sounded boring and that my unconditional positive regard and compassion were enough.  

I’d go bedside, hear someone’s story, share in that space with them, and give them information about how what they said sounded like trauma.  I’d even tell them a few types of ways trauma can show up (like acute stress v. PTSD).  It was amazing to see how the being with them in that moment and telling them what I saw was understandable given all they’d been through felt relieving.  It was amazing to see how much that meant over mindfulness or other things.  I’d sometimes talk to their loved ones or medical team to help relay communication.  It reminded me of being the big sister, pivoting from sharing that tidbit of information in that way to this info in this way.  It was all very natural for me and I could see how much progress was being made.  The progress of moving someone from feeling alone and misunderstood to feeling connected is still to this day my favorite work.  

I saw how folks suffered these last few years and how they needed and asked for more than moving from misunderstood to connected.  A friend told me that there are scholarships available for folks to learn eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.  I have loved ones who raved about the impacts of EMDR, but I thought it sounded like one of my favorite movies, Men in Black.  I thought they’d wave the little thingy and make your memories disappear.  I was cute.  There’s no Men in Black magical movey thingy to make memories disappear.  We simply move stuff back and forth from the limbic system to the frontal lobe to reprocess memories leaving folks to feel unstuck.  People feel unstuck AND more connected to themselves and others in a beautiful way.  

I still wasn’t sure that I could do it.  Guess what though.  I won a 50% scholarship!  I’m still forever grateful for those folks at ICM.  I provided several sessions to clients through a scholarship since and I hope I can one day return to ICM to give back.  The training was an LGBTQ EMDR training for 42 hours.  We did chunks of hours of EMDR on each other after we’d learn new approaches. 

I was terrified!  I was scared my colleagues in our practice group would think I sucked or was dumb or that I’d mess up their trauma recovery somehow.  I was scared for my now EMDR consultant to observe me doing it.  Was I doing it wrong?  Was I messing everything up?  Hey, I’m on 50% scholarship, should I be doing better and taking up no space?  Well I did it anyway.  I spoke with two close loved ones about my fears, I took walking breaks, I breathed, and I sometimes voiced my fears with my colleagues or even authority figures (the very kind EMDR consultants and trainers).  I did it wobbly like how I do when I am learning to ride a bike.  

I was DAZZLED and filled with profound hope to see traumas moving quickly.  I moved through a traumatic experience I couldn’t move through in talk therapy alone.  I integrated parts work and EMDR with a colleague and moved through what they couldn’t move through in their EMDR alone for two years.  I saw single incident trauma, complex trauma and multiple incident traumas move within hours of implementing our trainings on each other.  It was one of the most life changing experiences for me. 

I’ve been wanting a therapy approach in my toolbox like EMDR and told myself I couldn’t do it or there was other stuff to learn for more than a decade.  I love how these fears of not doing things perfectly were acknowledged, and even loved on, but this part of me didn’t drive the bus.  My best self drove the bus instead.  

I became EMDR trained shortly after these EMDR training!  THEN I spent several months going from EMDR trained to get ready to be EMDR certified.  I am so grateful for how EMDR has helped me serve folks.  I truly could have talked myself out of this joyous healing.  I could’ve even stunted my healing in the process if I didn’t make room for, but not let my fear drive the bus.  It wasn’t easy, but it’s been so fruitful.  

And dear soft hearts, guess what?!  I’m preparing my next level EMDR Certified application this week!  When is a time when you did something imperfectly and it led you to your confidence?

Want to come work with me? I’d love the honor to work with you. Reach out and see if we’re a fit to get you walking through imperfection toward your best life. Thanks so much for joining and let’s meet again here next week ❤

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