The story is from almost 20 years ago when I first started working with my counselor, who is now my colleague, friend, and mentor. I had been seeing him for a couple of months, going through my first divorce.
I had come in to see him because I discovered my ex-wife had created a blog where she divulged all these details from our marriage. However, we had a court order to say nothing negative (directly or indirectly) about the other person. It was a way to protect the children. But this blog, which I'd say was about 60% true and 40% fabrication, gutted me.
I came screaming into my counselor's office, utterly furious. I remember him sitting there, patiently listening to me, and when I calmed down, he asked if he could ask me a couple of questions. I said sure.
He wondered how much was true. I said about 60%.
He asked what was true. I said that I cheated on her, my sex addiction, stuff from my childhood.
He asked if the rest was untrue, and I said yes.
He asked who and what I can control. I said me.
He asked if I have control over what anyone else thinks, feels, or says. I said no.
He asked if I have control over my thoughts, feelings, and actions. I said yes.
He asked me who is responsible for cheating on my wife and the other things I recognized as accurate. I said I am responsible. And that I control those things with my thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
He asked who is responsible for that information getting out: the person sharing it or the one taking the actions.
I collapsed in my chair at that point. It was me.
If we don't want someone talking negatively about us, we can make different choices. He told me not to be too hard on myself – I became an addict because I went through a horrific childhood and did the best I could. So I can't blame myself for that. But I am responsible for the consequences of those imperfections. We all have them, and they will be with all of us for the rest of our lives.
"You get to decide if you're willing to do the recovery work, so the pain from your past doesn't drive your life. If you choose not to, this is an example of the consequences. Is that what you want?"
That's when I realized that anyone who comes into my life and "hurts" me is a gift. They're perfectly imperfect. Other's imperfections will shine the light on your imperfections and allow you to focus on yourself (what you can control).
When I realized this career was my calling, I had a soul-crushing moment. Everyone projects onto coaches, therapists, and doctors, thinking they're perfect and have it all figured out. But I look at my life and see all the imperfections: sex addict, two failed marriages, bankruptcy, not a very good father, contemplating suicide. And that's just the start. And that's a lot. Others have more. Some have less. But you can't grade trauma. If it's your worst, it's equal to anyone else's worst regardless of "objectivity."
We are all equally in pain and similarly imperfect. I discovered the only way to do what I'm doing is to face myself and own my imperfections. To gain genuine self-esteem, I have to accept my imperfections. I have to accept all of me, meaning I have to lead with my pain.
Everyone wants connection, but everyone is scared to share who they are. But that's what's causing everyone's pain, bad relationships, and poor careers. If I try to teach everyone how to accept who they are, but I hide? I'm a fraud. I have to talk about my addictions and manipulations, and lies. I have to own it all.
My thoughts are, "If I lead this, people are going to find all this out. Am I really ready to lead people if I'm not ready to share everything?" Don't get me wrong, sharing all this scares me like it would anyone else. But it gives me an opportunity. If I'm not willing, you won't be ready. And it's my job to provide you with permission to face your imperfections. Self-esteem is the ability to accept the perfect and the imperfect.
In addition, I share my story because I don't believe that the conventional coaching and therapy model works. But, of course, my belief doesn't mean I'm objectively correct – it's just my truth and the result from my studying.
Several vital factors drew me to this conclusion. First, just like Pia Mellody discovered by opening up to her clients about her imperfections, I found people need an open exchange of vulnerability and information. The typical therapy model is top-down: the therapist looks like a parent. You're afraid you're going to get judged. Pia discovered therapists are the falsely-empowered "parent."
The other aspect is the way people become therapists. We've all been through abuse, and our career choices are based on childhood. If you pick this field, it's because you went through horrific trauma. Many in this industry go from that trauma into college (where they don't heal) right into teaching. They're not aware of how they're transferring pain to clients. Another aspect is that psychiatrists only earn to be bio pharmacologists – pills don't heal the pain. They cover the pain.
Conversely, there's another side of the coach/therapist model that creates disempowerment. These people can't call things what they are. A great example in everyday life is "stress." The definition of stress is the fear response, yet no one ever calls it that. There's shame in being afraid. We don't have permission to be scared. Saying we are stressed makes us feel empowered, yet it's hiding under disempowerment.
Therapists or coaches sell programs that make you feel good and don't make you confront reality – it keeps you sick and dysfunctional. I don't want to do that. This process is also manipulative: it's designed to get you to like them and buy their programs. It's not recovery. Healing requires truth. We have to call things what they are.
The bottom line: to heal, you need several things—one: intimacy. Into me I let you see. We all want to be heard, understood, and accepted. Two: Reality. Truth. Not denial and deception. Being nice isn't love. Love is accountability and ownership.
Our model for helping people is primarily abusive because we haven't done the work on ourselves. I did decades of work on myself before assisting clients, yet I'm still perfectly imperfect. One small way I embrace this is by not editing out mumbles and mistakes in my videos!
Therapists may say I'm transferring or sharing too much information. When I work with a client, I don't turn the session into healing me. I only share stories as it pertains to their life. I am skilled in doing this so that it benefits the client without poisoning the client. It's a skill set that therapists don't know, so they say that I'm wrong. They aren't familiar with the model and haven't done the work.
Next: marketers. They want my programs to be easy, short, fluffy, and with little direct language. "It challenges people too much," they say. They're probably right. But for a person who's ready to heal: they're prepared for what I'm putting out. I want to help people heal. That's my value. I teach the heart and heat of the matter.
I don't sell as much, but I'm OK with that because it's authentic and not manipulative. Marketers also want me to change my language and be more superficial. I work on my speech to be less condescending, but I won't change my language not to call things what they are. I will not promote keeping people sick.
That "political correctness" is abuse, and I will not promote that. Marketers also want my videos to be perfect, but I like how they are imperfect, just like me. They want me to change how I dress because no one dresses how I do anymore. I changed how I dressed in my marriages, and I won't do it again. I love clothes! I wear suits to the grocery store only to get milk. I refuse to give myself away anymore because it almost cost me my life.
As for those who watch my videos and disparage me, I will be careful because I don't want what I have to say to come across as judgment. Those who come after me do so because they are early in their journey. They may hear something they've done and aren't ready to face, so they project that onto me. They see their unhealed brokenness and dump their pain onto me. It's not fun to get gutted, but I appreciate the opportunity to practice my boundaries.
In reality, they are just me before I began my internal work. It's the same hatred and anger I felt towards my ex-wife. They don't realize the position they are in and that they have responsibility. They don't want people to see their shame. I have been there, and I don't want that for them – I have tremendous empathy for their pain.
Based on my look, people make assumptions and think that I'm a rich and spoon-fed guy. Contrarily, I grew up in houses with no table to eat from, a bed on the floor, and a moving box as a nightstand. My dad only made money after I was gone. Fortunately, I was exposed to wealthy people, which gave me the insight that they are the most broken on the planet.
Our society puts them on a pedestal, so they end up caught – they can never talk about their pain because our society thinks they have nothing to complain about. So I had a unique perspective to see both sides and see no difference: both have pain.
When I started this business seven years ago, I was broke. I was an Uber driver when I first discovered this is what I'm called to do. I counseled my first clients in my car and then at Starbucks. I've worked emotionally to get to where I am. The key to the success I want is developing my emotional mastery. It's not how hard I work in the traditional sense. It's emotional mastery. I decorate and dress a certain way because it brings me joy. I do it for me.
This is why I share my personal story. I hope it works for you. It doesn't mean I am right – it's just my truth and reality. If it aligns with your values, I hope you come along for the journey. This is a safe place. You have permission to talk about your pain and dump it on me and my posts. I will empathize with you and love you where you are without judgment or criticism because you're me too. There's no difference between us.
My hope is you go on the journey to accepting your perfect imperfections. It's a beautiful journey - Enjoy The Journey.
If you are interested in developing your own emotional mastery, I have developed these programs to guide you on your journey.
THE GREATNESS UNIVERSITY
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