Vulnerability in Counseling: The Face of Courage

A few days ago my sweet sister gave me a book entitled Let Your Spirit Soar.  Inside, it holds a compilation of inspiring quotes from famous as well as anonymous writers.  Each page holds a gift as well as challenge to the reader-for example: to recognize the beauty and the blessing that is life, to embrace the responsibility of being a human with freedom and choice, and to accept and love the person you are, “warts & all.”

vulnerability, therapy, counseling, mental health

One of the pages, which most struck a chord with me is by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist who spent a great amount of time working with patients facing death…

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“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle & shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Working with a variety of clients from different backgrounds, families, and life situations, has solidified a few sustaining truths in my understanding of people: we all hurt, we all attempt to hide this hurt, & we consistently view our pain as a weakness in the eyes of others as well as ourselves.  As Mrs. Kubler-Ross might explain, we all face periods of life when the sun seems to stop shining and darkness has crept in.

The vast majority of us attempt to live day-to-day under the façade of “all is fine here, nothing to look at…” regardless of whether or not we truly are okay. The pain, the fear, the confusion is bubbling underneath our seemingly calm, cool, & collected exteriors as we attempt to drudge through life as “business as usual”.

However, pain is real and tends to boil-over when we attempt to ignore it.  Perhaps it seeps over into our work, our marriage, our friendships, or our spiritual lives.  We may try to “put a lid on it,” pushing it back into the abyss of our minds; yet, the pain often pushes back harder as if to say, “Remember me? Yep, still here…”

The most humbling encounters I have in therapy exist when clients allows themselves to peer into their hurting and damaged souls and give voice to their truly aching hearts.  What a courageous act it is when individuals give themselves permission to be vulnerable with the reality of their emotions.  So much of the time we deny ourselves this basic need: to truly be where we are and who we are in the given moment.  Maybe where we are and who we are is not “business as usual.”  Perhaps what we need is to allow ourselves to hurt and recognize that it’s okay.  Or in the words of a helper who had a significant impact on my own healing: “Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel.”

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Learn more about Lydia Minear, MA, LAPC’s Counseling practice @ East-West Psychotherapy Associates here.

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