let’s end the hoarding of knowledge

visibility fears

February 2, 2024

When I was 23, I didn’t spend the summer partying or going to the beach or even getting a summer job like everyone else I knew. I spent it studying. In secret with a wierd mixture of curiosity and shame. 

I could tell you it’s because I ama  nerd. Always have been, It’s not the whole truth though. The bigger truth is that I was deathly afraid of this being THE year Uni (and everyone else I knew) finding out I was actually really dumb. 

I was the last person to be accepted into my masters course. At least that’s the story I told myself because I never received a congratulatory letter the same day as everyone else. Instead, I received a phone call the day before orientation asking why I hadn’t confirmed my place. Maybe they forgot to post my letter, or it got lost in the mail but for a long time there was that inner voice. You know the one, because you probably hear it too, from time to time:

“you’re not good enough”, “you’re not smart enough”, “someone probably dropped out” or even “someone on staff felt sorry for you”

I felt like I had to prove myself. So, I spent the summer before my clinical masters started by studying the DSM (the big book of mental disorders).

If you can believe it, this was a time when the DSM was kept in an ‘exclusive’ section of the library. Rather than spend days schlepping back and forth from the library I decided to buy a copy. I had to special order it from America and it cost a lot, but it was the only way to learn.

Way before you could just Google the symptoms of mental ill-health. Way before YouTube was popular enough to have mental health content that was remotely useful. 

I distinctly recall one of my uni lecturers even saying “we don’t want just anyone to access the DSM. You need a masters degree to access it or people will go diagnosing themselves”. It was definitely pre-Tik Tok world. 

You can go back only 100 years in my family tree and most people still signed their birth, marriage and death certificates with an ‘X’, indicating they were illiterate. 

Perhaps that’s what’s driven my strong feelings about people who feel the need to hoard resources. 

As a psychologist of 15 years, there’s concepts I’ve explained over and over and over – the fight or flight response, ironic process theory (why bad thoughts keep repeating), how fear, pain and tension in birth usually correlates to ‘failure to progress’ and a host of other concepts that are useful, but not exclusive.

Never, ever do I think “how can I keep this knowledge restricted until people book a 1:1 session to pay me for it?”

Instead, there’s a delight and gratitude in “I get to teach this” and “how do I teach this more widely?”

One of my true joys in life is when something I’ve said makes someone stop in their tracks. What Oprah calls the ‘aha!’ moment where suddenly, someone is realizing that they’ve never heard this information before, or something has nudged them to shift a fixed mindset into a growth mindset. 

Don’t keep your best insights for exclusive use! Trust that people do in fact want to learn from you, not just a textbook. 

Common themes I hear from people in visibility for introvert practitioners is that they don’t know what to teach or somehow don’t feel confident enough or ready yet.

You can learn whatever you want, study and cram and take more courses if it makes you feel better. However, if you never challenge that sneaky voice, the one that says you’re not good enough to make a video, reach out for a podcast interview or write a media pitch or a book, you may as well be hoarding your knowledge, no?

Teaching health practitioners to feel confident to share the knowledge they’ve accumlated and to go global is kind of my passion project this year. I want those skills to feel effortless for people. If you think you might benefit from some visibility coaching – actually creating content together in sessions, then let’s chat 🙂

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