How Therapy Saves Us from Wasting Our One Precious Life

What if our mistakes, flaws, imperfections and mess aren’t our biggest problem? What if our biggest problem is the story we tell ourselves about them? And what if there was a place where we could go, to hear a different story?

shame

Photo Credit: ScottMPhotos1 via Compfight cc

The to-do list when you’re launching a therapy practice is a mile long.

For many months, I’ve shared that list with my friend and co-founder of Artisan Clinical, David Clinton. Together, doggedly and determinedly, we’ve been whittling it down. Several weeks ago, on a Monday night, I had one thing left on my list.

Program the thermostat in the new office.

I tried and failed, over and over again. So, impulsively, I went out, bought a new thermostat, opened it, and was promptly reminded to turn off power to the furnace before installation. I don’t have access to the fuse box in our rented suite. There would be no quick start for this thermostat. So I gave up. Then, a week later, on another Monday night, a client suggested I simply download the instructions for the old thermostat.

Oh. Yeah.

Wisdom goes both ways in a therapeutic relationship.

Later that evening, it took about ten minutes to download the owner’s manual and to program the old thermostat. The temperature in our new office was now officially under control.

But something inside of me wasn’t.

I felt embarrassed I hadn’t come up with the solution on my own. I felt guilty I’d wasted money on a new thermostat we didn’t need. That I’m-not-good-enough feeling can visit upon us in many guises and, this time, it had returned in the shape of an unnecessary thermostat. So, this is what I texted David:

“I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Okay, the good news. I found a manual on-line and figured out how to program the thermostat. It was every bit as asinine as it seemed to be. The bad news is, I wasted $20 on a thermostat (I already opened the package like a dummy).”

I called it a night and went to bed.

But I wasn’t alone. My shame was there with me…

TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST CLICK HERE

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To read about how David responded to my shame—and how therapy can relieve all of us of the shame that lays our lives to waste—click the link above to read the rest of this post on the Artisan Clinical Associates blog. This is the second of three times I’ll link to my original content on my new practice’s website. After that, you’ll need to be subscribed to the Artisan blog to read my Artisan posts, so don’t forget to subscribe in the sidebar while you’re there. Or CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Artisan blog right now! To be clear, I will continue to post here at UnTangled once per week, and will be posting additionally on the Artisan blog approximately once per month. 

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Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Carrie

    I, too, am struggling with a lot on my plate and having made a little more expensive decisions that could have been avoided. When I brought these concerns to my therapist yesterday, she lifted the blanket on her lap and showed me her slippers, saying, “You are not alone.” When I see her accept her humanness, it helps me to accept mine. I’m sure that your accepting your own humanness (with a little help from a friend), is just what some people need to read to have a little grace for themselves. We are not alone on this journey, are we.

    • drkellyflanagan

      We are most definitely not alone, Carrie. Sometimes, people ask me if being a therapist is a burden, and my answer is, “Are you kidding? I get to sit with people all day and talk honestly about our humanity? Best job in the world.”

  • Another great article, Kelly! Thank you so much for the reminder … and congratulations on having such an awesome and wise friend in David!

    • drkellyflanagan

      Thanks! David’s middle name ought to be grace. I am lucky to have him as a friend. I hope you’re well, Jenny!

  • Cassara

    This is just what I needed to hear this morning. I was in a car accident a few weeks ago, and have been unable to shake feeling incredibly awful about the whole thing, including about totalling the nice car my parents gave me. This helped me reframe it. Thanks for the great post!