I don’t know how much this will resonate with you but this one is profound for me. I have been using the word congruent for a long time. I remember sitting in a therapist’s office many years ago and her asking me, “What do you want to get out of this?” Without skipping a beat I answered, “I want to be more congruent.” At the time I was a new therapist and felt as though my years of academic training were holding me back. I was working with mandated clients and the stakes were high for them. I had been fiercely trained to focus on people’s strengths and to always look for solutions. I took this mandate literally and perfected this art. I was either exploring strengths and solutions or I was not. But something was always missing. I had become so robotic and controlled with the idea of rule following and saying the right thing, that I often left sessions believing that the words that mattered most went unspoken. It wasn’t that I wanted to bang people over the head discussing mistakes and weaknesses but I knew the importance of transparency and creating space to talk about the uncomfortable stories that guilt and shame want to hide. I unpacked a lot during that season and my weekly sessions in the therapist’s office helped me make space to become the clinician I longed to be.
Last summer I attended a one week Master Class in Chapel Hill on congruency and I am still overwhelmed by the experience. During this 40 hour workshop my 10 year goal of congruency went from a spark to a flame to a full blown fire. Congruency is not a destination…it is a practice. It is when our insides become really good friends with our outsides. It is the willingness to show up on our own behalf by honoring ourselves, others and the context. It is choosing to respond authentically as often as possible. No masks. No what if’s. No ego. No blame, shenanigans, judgement or reasoning. Just real. No matter what.
Practicing congruency kicks my butt. It holds me accountable and calls me out when I want to people please, lie, manipulate, shapeshift and bring the razzle-dazzle. Congruency wants no part of my reindeer games. It’s tough work and like any practice, it can be disorganized, imperfect and sloppy. Congruency could care less about any of that because it trusts what it knows. It knows that when we smile, use perfectionism and keep words tucked inside because we can’t bear disappointing, angering, arguing or being honest we rage an internal war that leads to self-destructive tendencies and addictions. It knows that the words we rage onto other people are a reflection of a deeper truth and hurt we are too afraid or ashamed to acknowledge. It knows that our inner “know it all” is a carefully constructed defense we use to protect us from truly being seen. And it knows how exhausting, miserable and overwhelming it is when we are separated from ourselves and living for others. Coming home to who you were designed to be is the gift of congruency. It does not always feel good but it is good. Always.