I Like Quotes, Week One of The No-Longer-New-Abnormal


“Just do what works for you, because there will always be someone who thinks differently.”  Michelle Obama


I love quotes.  When I first started my psychotherapy private practice in the mid-90s before there were iPhones and Facebook, I had an answering machine, and the recording included quotes on there.  I changed them monthly or so, and it felt nice.  But I was a new therapist and I wanted to do things right.  It felt right to me.  Nonetheless, I was told by a senior therapist, one who I respected, that I might want to rethink having something so personal on my outgoing message.  The common practice was to be as neutral as possible. Her thinking was that a chosen quote could possibly be sharing unnecessary private information about me or, it might be misconceived.  

I regretfully took it off my machine.  I wanted to do the right thing, and as someone new to the field I thought a more seasoned therapist would know better.  Over the subsequent years I have come to believe that I can share quotes should I choose.  If a potential client feels uncomfortable with that, or they are not fond of the quote, then they are given important information and can move on to find the right therapist for them.  And those who align with whatever quote I post, may feel good about sharing in that philosophy.  Whatever the case, I have the freedom to express myself as long as I am also responsible for managing whatever consequences my actions may have.  

That therapist was trying to help.  I don’t think she was judgmental or bossy.  This is how she learned to practice and was simply passing on specific expertise.  I was too insecure to do what felt right for me, so I ignored my desire for self-expression is the service of doing what was deemed professional.  Now I understand that professionalism comes in many forms.  My office, described as shabby chic by one client, will not feel welcoming to someone who prefers a more neutral setting.  I wanted a homey feel.  It does impart information about me, whether in the artwork on the walls or from the books on my bookshelves.  And so be it. For me this is a welcoming space, but not for everyone.  

It's taken me years to feel good walking in my own shoes.  They are not the worn tennis Tretorns my mother passed down to me in my teens and early adulthood.  Nor are they the stiff leather oxfords my dad brought home for me in my childhood and preteen years when they didn’t sell at his store.  They are shoes I’ve chosen on my own, colorful, wide, and comfortable.  I walk in them like the New Yorker I am, at a clipped pace walking around those who might slow me down.  


“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss

Self-Care Tips:

  • Find a quote or quotes you like and keep it (or them) in a place you can come back to.  It will remind you to smile or be inspired, or both.  
  • Identify ways in which you express yourself that feel good to you.  Also identify those who appreciate you for who you are.  Make a point to be in touch with them so you can enjoy the ease of feeling the freedom to simply be.  If you feel misunderstood, look for those who might potentially share in your style of self-expression so you can live fully as yourself.  
  • Learn from your mistakes.  Sometimes we have to go left to see clearly we have to make a U-turn so that we belatedly go right.