I am a group therapist. I passionately believe in the healing power of groups.
Yesterday, I gave a presentation about group therapy, which went very well (as far as I can tell). I am especially glad about this, because I skipped the “I SUCK!” step in preparing for it. (See yesterday’s post, for more about that.)
When I talk about groups, I tend to do a good job, simply because I love doing them so very, very much.
And yet, I myself, have mixed feelings about joining groups. I think that’s okay, because that promotes my empathy for other people’s ambivalence about groups. (Yes, I belong to a group of human beings who are ambivalent about engaging with others in groups.)
Why are so many of us ambivalent about joining groups? As usual, I can speak for my own experience, only.
Here are some thoughts I typically have, about joining a new group:
- Will the other people understand me?
- What about the differences I have from the other people? Will those differences be valued?
- Will I feel alone, in the presence of others, and might that not feel worse than feeling alone by myself?
- Will I be judged?
- Will I judge them?
- Do I feel like I belong here?
- Arrrghhh! Maybe I should just forget it!
- Or, perhaps …. I will learn a lot from this group.
I guess I could reduce all of those thoughts to this: Should I stay or should I go?
Why am I writing about this, today? Because yesterday, I not only gave a presentation about groups, I also joined a group, on Facebook, of people who have very, very unusual hearts like mine.* (If you want more details about what makes my heart so unusual, check out this blog post.)
And, already, all the thoughts I listed above (and more) have flitted through my head), like a bunch of butterflies.
Here are some other thoughts that are flitting around, right now:
- These thoughts are familiar.
- I’ve had these thoughts about being the member of many other groups.
- I don’t have these thoughts, for the most part, when I am leading a group, because then I am in a different role.
- I don’t have these thoughts, for the most part, about groups where I had no choice but to be a member.**
Hmmmm. I’m looking at that last point, right now, and thinking this:
I actually had no choice but to be a member of The Group of People with Hearts Like Mine. I was born into that group.
So maybe the question is this: Do I want to think of myself as a member of that group? Do I want to self-identify, that way?
I know this: I’ve always resisted labels. I have found labels reducing, somehow.
And perhaps that has to with being called a patient, so frequently, when I was so young. Maybe that’s a group I didn’t want to be a member of.
But maybe that label, “patient,” isn’t such a bad thing. Let’s see what images come up in Google, right now, for that word:
Not so bad, right?
Thanks to the LTGA (CCTGA) and Double Switch Facebook group, every person in the world who contributed to making this post today, to group members everywhere, and to you — of course! — for reading today.
* I found out about this group thanks to a comment by Erin, in response to this post.
** These groups include my family, American citizens, women, left-handed people, Jewish people, people who grew up in my home town, etc. etc.
*** I found this image here.
**** I found this image here.
***** I found this image here.
****** I found this image here.