Until immersing myself into the experience of studying Somatic Therapy in the Institute for Integrative Bodywork and Movement Therapy (a.k.a. IBMT), I have been perceiving myself as an "either/or" person for too many times: good or bad, a client or a therapist, a victim or a superhero... Up until a few years back, showing up meant only one thing for me: being present 110%. Yes, a draining (yet "so heroic"!) 110% of effort, presence and of course - success. Anything less than at least 99.5% was in my mind deemed to be classified as unworthy. "You could have done better, Jurga" - a narrative I have internalised as my own from early childhood.
As a bodyworker it meant being 110% available for whatever support my client would need. It also meant that if I was tired, hurting, stressed or emotionally distraught at the time I needed to work, there was only two ways accessible to me: putting everything away into an imaginary closet (since that was my best working survival strategy at the time) and show up or cancel altogether (a privilege that I have allowed myself on super rare occasions).
I imagined that as a therapist I need to come from a place of an absolutely unruffled strength, stability, and from an almost superhero-like invincibility. And even though now I smile remembering it, I was dead serious about it at the time. At least subconsciously.
In the first year of IBMT studies, feeling raw and in tears after some partner work, where I have been in the role of a client, I said that I absolutely cannot be in the role of a therapist when the time to swap with my colleague came. And our wonderful teacher then asked me: "Can you give 20% out of 100%? If not, maybe 10% or 5%?"
What?! A 20% or maybe even only 5%!!! Can you imagine giving that little?! I certainly couldn't. But I complied. I decided to try it out. And as I did allow myself to try, things inside shifted. The very permission of giving less than at least 99.5% made my whole system relax and receive what was coming. I was suddenly surprisingly present and available for my client with all of my rawness and vulnerability. What a discovery and what a relief!
Having since graduated and working with clients now, I feel confident that I can be present and helpful even while feeling raw, vulnerable and emotional... Interestingly, I sense that it warrants for even more empathy and attunement with my client. Presence to myself and my inner process does not take away from the process of my client nor the support for it. In fact, some of the most beautiful and authentic somatic sessions happened in this state of rawness and mutual vulnerability.
IBMT offers me plenty of tools to hold space for myself as I hold space for my client. And I am eternally grateful for that. This experience also allows me to inspire and assist others in finding their own ways to find resources within themselves without compromising their self-compassion and to let go of the suffering caused by this defensive mechanism - feeling not good enough unless... you are 110% perfect.
My message is - You are enough - in your raw, human, totally beautiful imperfection. Showing up for the world does not mean you need to shut down your own needs and feelings, finding resources within and taking care of yourself first is not being egoistic. What helps the world is us being aware and mindful of our own state, wounds, needs and boundaries, so that we can compassionately take care of them and be there for others in a way that is available to us in the moment. Baby steps count. Small victories matter. Being 5% of a superhero is still substantial. And if that message doesn't help you to avoid the "all or nothing" trap, you can consider a simple truth that even 5% is more than 0%.
Get in touch with Jurga here.