If individual therapy is like a duet, then group therapy is a symphony. It carries the melodies of many voices and yet, somehow it creates a sense of rhythm and harmony that nourishes the soul. I love doing one on one therapy, with the solitary focus on one person, and being present for their process. But, group therapy accomplishes things I could never hope to achieve individually. Last week’s group discussion on self-compassion was a beautiful example of that. One group member shared how she talks to herself when she is disappointed in something she has done or left undone. Another group member appeared shocked and asked,”Are you in my head?” It was a beautiful moment of validation for both of them that continued on through out the group session.
I’ve thought about that session quite a bit this week. Maybe it is because the theme of that night was replayed through individual sessions during the week. Maybe it is because I am still trying to have a presence on social media in an effort to promote my latest book. What hits home is that people in our society create an image that they portray to others and this image is based on what others expect of them. The danger comes when we compare our inside to their outside. When we see perfect family outings on FaceBook, but our family relationships are going through a hard time. When we see others speak of their accomplishments, but we spent the day on the couch watching a marathon of HGTV and eating homemade rice pudding. When we see others portraying themselves as “all together”, but we feel a sense of being emotionally broken. I believe this dynamic has long been a part of our social history. However, I also believe social media has solidified this experience of feeling alone any time we are struggling.
That was the beauty of last week’s group. I saw two people recognize that they are not alone. I saw them offer themselves and each other a moment of acceptance and grace. I saw it light up their eyes as the music of the moment swelled to a crescendo.
I’m not saying that being authentic always ends in validation or that authenticity is an easy choice. But I have made a commitment to live an authentic life, to let go of others’ expectations for me and embrace who I really am, to make the outside and inside match, and to cheer on those who strive for an authentic life as well. It won’t be done perfectly. But it will be done.