The Fells & Dales network of accredited counsellors met this morning to discuss the subject of ‘Imperfection’, prompted by extracts from Brené Brown’s book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection – let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are’ (Hazelden Pubishing, 2010).
Carl Rogers’ concept of the ‘fully functioning person’ was seen to be aspirational, compared with the ‘wounded healer’ or the flawed therapist, which seem much closer to home! We acknowledged what a relief it is for us, and our clients, when we stop striving or pretending to be perfect, and embrace the whole of us as we are, warts and all. And how unhelpful it might well be for our clients if they perceive us as being perfect, ‘sorted’, the expert, the one with all the answers. Far better to model imperfection but also courage, tenacity, faithfulness and compassion. We liked Brené Brown’s self-description as ‘a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good-enoughist’!
We discussed the inevitability, and maybe necessity, of clients being disappointed in us, and letting them down, as they discover that we don’t have the power to ‘make it all better’, and yet that doesn’t mean we have nothing to offer. We were reminded of the hope that we hold, and our faith in the process and in the power of relationship, within which clients can feel safe and held whilst we accompany them through what might feel like turbulent waters. Such a committed, reparative relationship might be experienced like no other.
We readily called to mind some of the mistakes we have made in the past, and how hard it is to forgive ourselves, especially where there have been serious consequences. When harm has inadvertently been caused, a most helpful and compassionate response was suggested, namely “That wasn’t my intention”.
I close with the words from Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’: There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
and this image of the ‘Kintsugi’ – the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold.