To register for The Daring Way with Carolyn Bergen, Certified Daring Way Facilitator, please check out The Daring Way™ webpage for dates and registration info.
You may or may not have met me, but allow me to introduce myself to you. My name is Carolyn and I am an author.
The above line is a BIG deal for me. It is a symbol of the significance of the power of community. In that sentence lies the soft, gentle miracle of connection.
Early summer of this year, I created a book for our waiting room. Clients come to see us have to wait for their appointment in the waiting room…and most people who come to see a therapist do so in a time of struggle. And often they feel a sense of shame about having a struggle…the (false) belief that one should be able to fix one’s life or one’s marriage without help is alive and well. The myth that “I should be able to do this on my own” persists…and so when folks come to counselling, they are often feeling a little like a failure…and then in a session will be talking about a very vulnerable part of their lives while they are feeling that feeling of “not enough”.
That takes nothing short of raw courage.
So…I made a picture book to keep them company…to remind them of the strength it took to get to the waiting room. I thought a waiting client might like to know that we value their courage and will honor it in the session.
They were for our waiting rooms in our offices. The intended audience–2 waiting rooms in Winnipeg.
I brought one along to The Daring Way(TM) training, tossing it in the suitcase at the last minute, as part of perhaps sharing ideas with one another. But I’m a person who has always believed that to draw attention to myself is pretentious or assuming, and so I really wasn’t sure I would actually show it to anyone, and–after all–it is just a little bitty picture book anyways. (You’ve talked yourself into “no big deal” too, right?)
The Daring Way(TM) is about “showing up and being seen”, and about, of course, “daring bravely”… and if our clients have enough courage to show up for a first appointment, I figured it only made sense for me to do the same.
It took nothing short of raw courage to be authentic with one of the group leaders. I stuttered and stammered a request for her to please glance at the book.
She didn’t glance. She read it. And her only question was, “have you submitted this to a publisher?” I LOL’ed for real.
And when L. took one look over her shoulder, she insisted immediately, “I want one of these”…and I told her there were only two like it. She didn’t back down, and said she had to have one too. And I laughed and told her she was sweet in her request. This is not sweet, she said…this is not my sweet face…I want this…and she took it and showed several others, who immediately asked to also purchase.
She was kindly bossy in telling me to find out how I could print more, and figure out what to charge, and insisted I add in a profit margin. It was a little much, in a good way. How could she like something I made enough to insist on purchasing it, even though she didn’t have a price? She persisted in her expressing her perception until it would have been disrespectful not to believe her. (Crazy how a person can disregard positive feedback, even tho negative feedback sticks like velcro. Y’all do that too sometimes?)
Sometimes, empathy is about persistently believing and valuing a part of a person that s/he may not even know exists.
I showed the book today with a new friend, S, at lunch, saying I had now ordered some. She handed over money for a copy on the spot.
Another at the table read it and said, “You wrote a great book!”
And I said, “There’s not a lot of words in it, and so it’s not really like I wrote a book”
We do that sometimes, don’t we…minimizing, discounting, devaluing ourselves…I’m not the only one, right?
The next one over, with a mischievous sparkle in her eye, holds up her phone and says to me slowly, “This is a phone.” She points to a glass, “This is a glass“, and she points to the book, “This is a book…You did it. This is your book.”
That. Hit. Home. …in the sweetest, most poignant of ways. These wonderful people at this conference were not letting me stay small, they were celebrating what I created…and they were not going to let me get away with discounting something.
I’m not all the way there yet. I still have some shyness about putting forward this book and believing it can go anywhere. (Somehow it is easier to call it shyness rather than shame, but it’s really shame, I think). But I’m going to borrow their faith in the book and see where this goes. One handed me the contact info for her publisher. An organizer asked for a copy to show Dr. Brenė Brown.
Y’know, often we think of vulnerability and authenticity as tough slogging, requiring huge amounts of labor and risk and pain. And yep, I’ve had that. But being vulnerable about this book has had me surprised by the utter joy of incredible support that feels incredibly authentic…and in that authenticity, feels “wow” on levels that are hard to explain. Sometimes, when people are patient and kind and genuinely delighted and excited for another, it creates this bubbling up of awesomeness from deep inside that is simply unforgettable.
The tapes in my head said:
- “Don’t show the book. It’s no big deal. How could it be–you made it.”
- “Don’t show the book. They’ll think you’re bragging.”
- “Don’t believe it when they say it’s good. They’re just being nice.”
The cool thing? The good folks here…fast moving from strangers to dear friends...they can’t hear the tapes in my head.
Tonight, I don’t hear them so much either. (Wow, eh?)
And I am grateful…thank you, dear people in my The Daring Way™ group!