Throughout the last three years of school to become a licensed therapist, one of the concepts taught repeatedly is to meet my clients where they are. That means that in every session, their capacity might be different, and it is up to me to meet them at that level and honor where they are at — with non-judgment and compassion. Practicing this concept got me thinking about what it means to do this for ourselves.
Life and all its experiences are never in a straight and narrow path. The twists and turns impact us both positively and negatively. Depending on what is happening at any given time our responses and capacity may look vastly different.
For example, in the last month of school with my national boards coming up and preparing for our upcoming PCS, I lowered the bar a bit for expectations of myself in many areas. As one of my friends put it “I’m okay with being a C-minus version of myself right now, versus straight-A.” That hit me hard. A C-minus is still “passing;” things may just look a bit different than I expect.
What happens when we meet ourselves where we are? Personally, the benefit of being honest about where I was at and what I was capable of not only reduced my anxiety and stress, but it also allowed me to practice self-love and compassion. It helped me see that the things that needed to get done would and that letting go of some things did not equate to catastrophe. There can be freedom in letting go of our ideal self and holding space for who we are in the moment.
To put this idea into practice, mindfulness is key. Ask yourself, honestly, where are you right now in terms of your life, well-being and capacity? What events and responsibilities need your attention? How are you feeling emotionally, physically, mentally? Are you pouring from an empty cup in terms of needing a break or taking care of yourself in a non-stressful fulfilling way? What can wait? Taking the time to answer these questions will help you to know what you must do and what you want to and realistically can do. There is power in knowing.
Lastly, do not hesitate to ask for help or express to your partner or friends where you are. Your friends and military family will want to do what they can to support you, whether you are operating at C-minus or A-plus.