When I attended my masters program in mental health counseling with a specialization in expressive art therapy, there were a lot of things I was enraged at. For example, I was upset that the mentored classes consisted of little more than me reading books on my own and writing papers.
I was upset by the things I wasn’t taught.
I was upset by the deficiencies in my internship.
When I graduated, I was upset by how little I was prepared for life as a therapist. I was upset by incorrect things professionals told me. I was upset at the low pay offered to me by jobs.
I was upset by a lot.
As I moved into my own private practice, I learned what it felt like to take full ownership of all of my policies and decisions. I learned how complex it can be to run a business. Within less than a year, I was burnt out. And there was no one to blame but me. I had recreated the oppressive systems and people I sought to escape.
As I unpacked this and joined consultation groups and communities of therapists seeking change, I realized that the social and cultural norms of our field are more to blame than individuals. I also learned how hard it is to shed them.
I joined a feminist marketing course, and that taught me even more about the underlying harmful norms that drive much of our behavior. The more and more I wrote, the more I realized that most people are trying the best they can within broken systems and harmful cultural norms.
I realized more and more why we do the things we do.
It’s also helping me become a far more forgiving human.
Furthermore, I’ve now had thousands of hours with clients. I’ve come to see that most people are trying the best they can. As I connect with my clients and encourage them to embrace their own faults and mistakes, it also helps me to accept the faults and mistakes of others.
This was further reinforced by my late-identification as autistic. Learning I’m autistic has helped me to see many things. For instance, I now understand that my autistic brain is hyper-focused on incongruencies and is more likely to notice those first. I also see more ways I masked and camouflaged to fit into society. I see ways I intentionally harmed others.
In essence, my experiences have helped me to see and accept my flawed humanity more, which also helps me to understand others better.
I was able to realize my growth when I was recently informed by one of my therapy boards that they made a mistake regarding my registration. This is the kind of thing I would have raged against before. However, I know a human made a mistake. That is normal. They owned the mistake, and that is all I can ask for.
I am actually quite calm about it, and that is a miracle. I’m becoming more forgiving.
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