My therapist, Nick, laid out two academic books on the far end of the coffee table before him.
“This one on the right is the guide we use for diagnosing disorders,” he explained. “The one on the left is where we identify the healthiest version of someone’s psychological traits.”
Then added, “Think of it as a range…from healthiest to unhealthiest. You can see there’s a lot of space between the two extremes.”
This made sense to me.
And helped me feel better about agreeing to his use of the Enneagram as the protocol for determining personality traits, and thus, any diagnosis he’d assign to me.
I’ve learned from years of coaching intelligent creatives, and my own long history of starts and drops within different systems, that…
Making progress in any program requires belief in three things:
#1: You have to believe in the person guiding the program.
#2: You have to believe in the system behind the program.
#3: You have to believe in yourself, to accept your role and do the work.
Yeah, it’s complicated.
Especially when success or failure means, as it does for freelancers and solopreneurs, taking a huge chance on your future.
Discipline is a bitch.
Enthusiasm wanes amidst the work.
Distractions are constant.
The fact that I’d booked the appointment with Nick meant that I was ready to believe I could do better.
Yet, I am always skeptical of protocol… so I knew accepting his would be the hardest part for me to get with.
It would come down to how much I trusted Nick.
I’d heard good things and, so far, I was feeling good about him.
In my limited experience, most therapists are pretty good at making their patients feel not judged, but understood.
The big question in my mind was, can this guy help me understand myself?
In the first meeting, he asked a lot of questions and typed notes into his laptop after my responses.
“Tell me how life was for you growing up.”
(“Hmm.” Tap, tap tap.)
“Tell me about mom. What was your relationship like?”
(“Huh.” Tap, tap tap.)
(“Mmm hmm.” Tap, tap tap.)
At one point I became impatient and said, “Can I just give you the 5-minute version of my story, I think that will–”
“We’ll get to that,” he said. Cutting me off. Then tapped something in his laptop without looking up.
Turns out, that small exchange was very significant – knowing what I now know about how I operate.
On the Enneagram test, I scored highest on
9 – The Peacekeeper…
3 – The Achiever… and
4 – The Individualist.
Nick gave me the option of which of these we would “dive into” first. (There are four stages to explore and complete in each one, complete with worksheets and discussion).
I chose to skip over Peacekeeper, and start with Achiever first.
Being a business owner, I felt like that would give me the most meaningful result.
Funny, because helping my business was not what led me to seek therapy.
Quite the opposite, actually.
It was the fact that I was struggling to feel genuinely connected in anything but business.
Admitting that isn’t easy, but I know I’m not alone.
As I mentioned here two weeks ago, I struggled with the idea of therapy because overall…
I’ve been blessed with an incredible life.
Full of love, friendship, passion, adventure, success, inspiration.
So, who am I to take a seat on the couch?
Yet, despite all of my good fortune, I was feeling very alone.
Where I once found joy in the “little things,” I was becoming irritated with anything that felt mundane.
Where I once was invested in personal friendships, I found myself avoiding casual get-togethers.
Where I once sought to make people laugh, I was now dismissive of any joke that seemed too “obvious.”
In a nutshell, I was suffering from the #1 killer of joy and creativity: I was taking myself too damn seriously.
Definitely not me.
But… was it now?
Is this how life progresses?
Are you supposed to fight for the you you’ve been, or embrace the you you are becoming?
All I knew was I didn’t like the way it felt, so I needed to find out.
The process continues.
Last week Nick and I wrapped up the fourth stages of The Achiever.
Wanna know what I learned from it?
If so, let me know.
(I want to make sure I’m not just navel-gazing on your time here 🙂