Being Perfectly Imperfect

Gretchen Hentsch-Cowles, MS

People are often under the illusion that they need to be perfect in order to be loved, accepted, appreciated, congratulated, rewarded, or valued. We learn as children that mistakes are not acceptable, but to be avoided at all costs. Our parents might unwhittingly shame us into never repeating a behavior again. Oftentimes, the "mistakes" made are spilling a glass of water, falling off a bike that we are learning to ride for the first time, not getting a hit at our baseball game, or not achieving a good enough grade.

When is our best good enough? Were we designed to be perfect and behave perfectly? Are we not human, and can we never make mistakes? I have often heard the "we learn from our mistakes", and that failure is healthy because it will teach us how not to fail again? So how is it that when we do fail we are shamed, scolded, yelled at, humiliated, or punished?

Shame is a deeply painful feeling that gives us information on who are are as a person. We tend to want to aovid feeling shame, which is why we seek perfectionism in our life. We tell ourselves that if we do everyhting perfectly, behave perfectly, or at least look as thought we are, work and study perfectly, obtain the perfect grades, house, car, have perfect children, and perfect friends, that we will never be shamed. We also tell ourselves that in being perfect, or at least in striving for perfectionism, we will be valued and loved.

The truth is, perfectionism grows out of shame and a fear of feeling shame in the future. Perfectionism is about fixing our negative beliefs about ourselves that were formed as children. It also breeds contempt for and arrogance towards others (if I am perfect and do everything perfect, I am superior to others).

Think about how much time you spend doing someting to the best of your ability, and then how much time you spend perfecting it: we usually spend a lot longer on the 5% we are trying to perfect, than we did on the 95% that is already so good. How do you want to spend your time?

Accepting our imperfections begins to open the way for grace and self-love, for acceptance, self-growth, and tolerance. Knowing that we are perfectly imperfect, means that we are taking back our power, that we are giving back our shame to those who imposed it on us, and that we can be become comfortable with who we are in the world. Doing our best is good enough.

What would it have been like for you had you been supported and encouraged as a child, rather than shamed and punished for making mistakes? How would you be different today?


Whole Health Workshops

Summer 2015

Join us this summer to find out more about Emotionally Focused Therapy, chronic pain, medical trauma, essential oils, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, concussions, Somatic Experiencing®, teen gaming issues, reflexology, and neurofeedback!

100 Series Descriptions:

Sunday, August 9, 1 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

 100 – Mindful Eating, Julie Euseppi, LCSW, RYT

Julie Euseppi LCSW, RYT offers an alternative attitude toward eating and mindfulness. Exploring our relationship to food is central to understanding our reactions to stress and view of ourselves. Begin to cultivate an awareness of feelings, thoughts, and patterns through the meditative skills of mindful eating. Take the first step on the journey to expanded choices aligned with ones values regarding health and wellbeing. 

 101 – Men and Couples Therapy, Sheeza Mohsin Dhanani, M.S.

There are valid reasons why men shy away from couples therapy and are hesitant to verbalize their needs in intimate relationships. Understanding their history, what society has been expecting from them and giving their needs an equal seat at the table is a critical factor for a relationship to be successful and meaningful. This workshop is valuable for the hesitant males considering couples or individual therapy or wanting to learn from failed romantic relationships so they don’t repeat the cycle and can experience what a gratifying intimate relationship may look like after couple’s therapy. Find out why EFT works for Men.

102 – Medical Trauma: How it Happens and the Implications, Gretchen Hentsch-Cowles, M.S.

Have you experienced a medical procedure that left you feeling betrayed, anger, or fear? Do you feel pain despite being told all went well? This presentation will discuss case histories and treatment results using a naturalistic psychobiological method called Somatic Experiencing®. Practical tools will also be reviewed.

 103 – Is your Teenager Gaming Too Much?, Craig Black, M.S.

With today’s prevalence of smartphones, video game consoles, and computers, it is almost inevitable that your teen games.  Often, hours are spent in front of a screen while the rest of the world passes them by.  How much is too much?  Come learn and discuss the real problem and signs of video game addiction.

 104 – Doterra Essential Oils: Your Medicine Cabinet, Linda Aigner, L.M.T.

Why use essential oils?  Learn how to use these oils for general health and wellbeing, mood management, and relaxation.  This workshop will discuss the safety, ease, and benefits of using doTerra’s Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade oils.

 105 – Concussions, Dr. Ruben St. Laurent, D.C., D.A.C.N.B.

Concussions have quickly become a nationwide concern because of short and long term adverse effects in brain function. Dr. Ruben St. Laurent will address ways to recognize, protect, and address concussions. He will demonstrate how a multifaceted approach with several important factors leads to a complete management of concussions. 

200 Series Descriptions:

Sunday, August 9, 1:45 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

 200 – Yoga for Stress Management , Julie Euseppi, LCSW, RYT

Julie Euseppi, LCSW, RYT will explain the elements of yoga, which can provide a resetting of the physiological stress response that brings the body and the mind back into ease and relaxation. Join in simple movements, breath-work and presence of body and mind to find your own inner steadiness and calm. 

 201 - Reconnecting through Intimacy, Sheeza Mohsin Dhanani, M.S.

Oftentimes, we come home to weak emotional connections, an inability to communicate our needs, low passion, no touch, sometimes no play or sex, minimal common ground intellectual stimulation, and a lot of guilt if we seek it out elsewhere in desperation.  According to Susan Johnson and other social scientists, humans are hard wired for connection. We crave connecting, touching wanting the praise and to be noticed but somehow are told it’s not an ‘adult’ thing and a sign of weakness. Find out how Emotionally Focused Couples therapy can help you get the passion in your relationship to a higher level.

 202 - How to Set Boundaries in Relationships, Gretchen Hentsch-Cowles, M.S.

What are boundaries and what purpose do they serve? Are you struggling with saying “yes” to yourself, and ensuring that your needs are being met? This talk will cover what boundaries are, how to set them, and what to expect from family and friends when you do. A short demonstration will illustrate the importance and effectiveness of boundaries in your life.

  203 - Managing Chronic Pain, Craig Black, M.S.

People often think pain is purely physical, however there is more to pain than that.  Medication is often not enough.  To treat pain, you must treat the emotional and psychological aspects as well. Come and learn the latest research about treating chronic pain’s accompanying mental health challenges.

204 - Benefits of Reflexology, Linda Aigner, LMT

Reflexology is a science that deals with the principle that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands that correspond to all of the glands, organs, and parts of the body.  Reflexology is a unique method of using the thumb and fingers on these reflex areas.  The benefits of reflexology include, but are not limited to: 1) Relieving stress and tension; 2) Improving blood supply and promote the unblocking of nerve impulses ; 3) Helping nature achieve homeostasis.

 205 - The Benefits of Neurofeedback, Ruben St. Laurent, DC, DACNB

Discover how neurofeedback helps treat people who are struggling with common conditions that interfere with their quality of life, relationships, and careers. These problems include ADD/ADHD, Addictions, Depression, Panic Attacks/Anxiety, Autism, Insomnia and many more. By focusing on changing dysregulated brainwaves through neurofeedback, many of our patients are able to discontinue pharmaceutical management.

 300 Series Descriptions: Mini-Sessions

Sunday, August 9, 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

20 minute mini-sessions with:

300 – Trauma Yoga Mini-Sessions, Julie Euseppi, LCSW, RYT

 301 – Couples Therapy Mini-Sessions, Sheeza Mohsin Dhanani, M.S.

 302 – Somatic Experiencing® Mini-Sessions, Gretchen Hentsch-Cowles, M.S.

303 – Counseling Mini-Sessions, Craig Black, M.S.

304 – Reflexology Mini-Sessions, Linda Aigner, LMT

305 – Biodex Mini-Sessions, Ruben St. Laurent, DC, DACNB

 306 – Counseling Mini-Sessions, Amber Showalter, M.S.

Hopemead Whole Health Workshops admission fee: $25, which includes two presentations and two mini-sessions of your choice. If your choice of mini-session is not available, then you will be offered an alternate date on another day.

 Sign up early to reserve your spot in your choice of two presentations and two mini-sessions! 

Trauma Sensitive Yoga Therapy now offered at Hopemead!

Find out how TSY can help you in supporting you in your journey to heal your trauma and regulate your anxiety.

Contact us for class schedule and to see if individual sessions are right for you.


Powerful Love Connection – Taking a chance in healing with Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), by Sheeza Mohsin-Dhanani, M.S.

‘Couples therapy doesn’t work!’ is a common response I have heard from many couples, who are afraid of trying it when they struggle in what may be the hardest relationship to grapple. Staying in love and keeping that love connection alive for ever and ever is challenging. Relationships are hard work, and very hard to stay in without feeling hurt and resentment. Pair that with the fear of walking in to the office of a therapist, who might end up supporting one of you while the other feels sidelined, or worst, ends up suggesting to you that you should exit your relationship. You might then be in a worst situation than before.

            Susan Johnson, who developed EFT, explains that underneath all the noise of arguments about cleaning, kids, and feeling like being taken for granted, couples really want to know the answer to basic questions, such as ‘Are you going to be there for me?’.  In those vulnerable moments when they feel the need for connection, couples crave emotional and physical attachment. EFT provides a map with which to work, develop, and transform emotions in love relationships so there is emotional accessibility to build bonds between couples. The emotional connection to loved ones, she says, is as essential as the air we breathe (2008). Working with an EFT therapist can empower you with the tools you need to safely risk with your partner to experience love, romance, passion and love-making in ways you may have not.

Emotionally focused couples therapy is a scientifically researched and validated methodology, which is based on the human need for attachment, and used in the treatment of adult love relationships. EFT views couples distress in terms of negative cycles and injuries that make secure bonding impossible. EFT uses experiential learning that is divided into steps and stages to help couples in romantic love relationships drastically improve their relationships. According to various studies, the success rate of the EFT treatment model can reach 90%, depending on the relationship.  

            John Bowlby explains that any kind of disruption in our secure attachments as a child impact how we attach in our adult relationships. We are trained to be tough, stay calm, and control our emotions in times of stress as adults, and moreover we are rewarded for such behaviors. Anger in fact makes us helpless, so we gain control over it by shuttering it. That practice of distancing from our emotions can impact our withdrawal behavior and we shut out all emotions.

            So whether you are struggling with your sex life, fighting extensively, or missing passion and love, it is time to consider EFT. 


Blame versus Responsibility, by Gretchen Hentsch-Cowles, M.S.

For most adult individuals, blaming someone else for their problems and feelings has been a long standing cultural tradition. How often do we hear or say: "He mad me sad" or "she made me angry"? We choose to believe that it’s someone else’s fault that we are unhappy, poor, mistreated, in legal trouble, or in an unhappy marriage. If only other people would change, understand, agree with you, behave better, act mature, be fair minded, have morals, be kind, not be so harsh, etc… then we’d be happier, richer, less depressed, less anxious, have fewer problems, etc…

When we blame other people for our problems, we are in fact not taking responsibility for our part in the couple, marriage or family system. Is it possible to be in a an unsatisfying relationship with someone, and not be at least a little bit of the cause of the dissatisfaction? Can families honestly blame all of their woes on a single member of the family? Family systems are like theatrical plays: there are people with different roles, who act and behave in synchronicity with other members of the family, with everyone acting connectively to produce a story and sub-stories of their family life. Everyone has an influence on others, and how they react, such that no one family member can behave in a vacuum and not affect other family members. The same applies to couples.

If we want the dynamics between us and our loved ones to change, then we need to first stop blaming others, and then examine our role in the relationship. How does my behavior, my style of communication, my non-verbals, my expression of feelings and thoughts, my choices, influence how my partner or my family members behave, think and feel? This is called taking responsibility for ourselves, and being accountable for how we affect others. This is not to be confused with co-dependency, where we are changing our behavior and feelings to please others. When we look at ourselves, and become aware of our behaviors and feelings, then we can make the changes we need to better our life.

The antithesis to blaming is holding ourselves and others accountable, and setting boundaries that are healthy for us. Responsibility empowers us, and allows us to move in a healthier direction in our life, whereas blaming bogs us down into more of the same behavior from other people and from ourselves. A spouse who continues to blame his/her spouse for their dire financial situation because of her/his compulsive gambling, isn’t going to change the situation; but a spouse who sets boundaries, takes responsibility for her/his part in the relationship, which enabled this situation and the relationship, and then sets boundaries so that he/she can become more differentiated and healthy, will provoke the kind of changes that are needed in the relationship.

Blaming is a shaming and damaging act, that we’ve learned from generations past, and that we can fortunately change in our lifetime. It is a choice that we make: to continue pointing our finger at others, or to embrace accountability and transformation for ourselves. Experiment this week by not blaming the person you tend to blame the most in your life. Instead, every time the urge bubbles up to blame, examine from where you are coming, your part in the issue, your family’s generational patterns, and what you can do to change the situation. You might just discover that you have more power and resources than you thought!