Same Time Next Week? | S1 Ep4 | Dani's Therapy Story

Season 1 | Episode 4

Dani's Therapy Story: Getting comfortable with messiness

Dani is a huge advocate for self-discovery. As an Enneagram 1, her go-to mode is to fit everything into boxes and check to-do items off a list. In this episode, Dani talks about how her experience in therapy has helped her break down walls, be vulnerable, and be comfortable when things get messy - even though that’s the exact opposite of her natural tendencies.

Because her journey has been so transformational to her own life and her relationships with her husband of 24-years and her three kids, Dani has turned self-discovery into a career. Now, she’s a certified Enneagram coach and teacher who helps others find joy in their own journeys.


  • Finding the right therapist
  • Building trust in therapy
  • Embracing the messy therapy process
  • Using personal strengths and acknowledging shortcomings in order to grow
  • Growing outside of your Enneagram type
  • Challenging clients through encouragement 
  • Being vulnerable


Episode Transcript

Michael Shahan 0:01
Hi, welcome to the same time next week, the podcast where we demystify the therapy experience by talking with people who share their own personal therapy journeys. In each episode, we begin to uncover what therapy actually is, how it works, what helps, what doesn't, and everything in between. I'm Michael Shahan, a marriage and family therapist in Kansas City. Let's get started. Today's guest is Danny Cooper. She's an enneagram life coach who's passionate about helping people explore the deep waters of who they are, so they can live with more freedom and love for others and themselves. Really, really hope you enjoy the conversation today.

Dani Cooper 0:41
Hi, I'm Dani Cooper, and I do enneagram coaching. So I teach the enneagram. And I love doing one on one coaching with clients, as well as leading workshops to teach people how self awareness can give them a more full life and give them better connections in their relationships with each other and with themselves. So yeah, that's kind of my passion. I love helping people open up to more of who they are a

Michael Shahan 1:11
language mind that, like I said that a lot. Yeah, so I met you. When was that? Long time was two years. Yeah, a couple years ago. Yeah, I'm somehow connected randomly on Instagram or something. And we just saw that you're in town in the enneagram coach, and I was getting started a lot of my sort of public integration stuff. And so I wanted to just talk with you and learn from you. And yeah, and so sort of stayed mildly connected the whole time. And so when I was thinking of this podcast, because what made me think of you was in thinking about this podcast, like, Who am I like, Do I know who has been impacted by therapy? in a positive way? I remember our first meeting you talked about, like you had said, I just came from my therapist, or I'm about to go to my therapist. I don't know which one it was. And you were talking about how helpful that was for you, and how helpful your therapist was. And so you feel like, feels like a perfect fit for to be able to share.

Dani Cooper 2:02
Thanks. And when I remember about that meeting in that coffee shop was was my first experience seeing someone do that tea thing? What was that tea thing you did?

Michael Shahan 2:13
Yeah. Man, it was it? Was it like no, it wasn't matcha it was yerba matei. Yes, that what it was, and it was my first experience trying it, I was very surprised on what it was. And I remember regretting getting it. Not telling you because I don't want to feel dumb. And so I just powered through it.

Dani Cooper 2:36
You did fine. You did fine. I had no idea if you were doing it wrong. So, sweet.

Michael Shahan 2:41
Perfect. I'm glad. Yeah.

Dani Cooper 2:42
So I had just come from therapy, I believe. And so yeah, I had just started a relationship with a new therapist. I think I've been with her maybe three or four months at that point. And things are really starting to go well.

Michael Shahan 2:59
Yeah. So So yeah, let's get get into it. So what does that entail going well, in therapy? What does that look like for you? How do you know that things are going well, in therapy?

Dani Cooper 3:09
Wow, I have to say that if you had asked me, like at the beginning of starting therapy versus now like, I'd have two different answers for you. Because I'm starting therapy, I was thinking like, if I could get some gold stars, and if I could check a lot of boxes, and see a progress report every week, that would have been really good for me. And so what happened when I actually went to therapy, though, is I found out it wasn't quite as linear as I was hoping it could be and much more meandering. And a little messier than I was hoping, honestly. So I think by that point, I had started getting some of those expectations shaken out. And I was beginning to trust my therapist more. And I think, you know, when that trust factor starts to develop, that's when the real work can begin. So I think that's where I was in the beginning when we first met. So

Michael Shahan 4:12
Wow, how do you to keep asking questions from what you're saying? How do you this another big question, how do you know that you trust your therapist? or What does that like to trust somebody? What does that mean for you? How do you know when that's happening for you?

Dani Cooper 4:27
That's a great question. So thinking about my own therapist, I think that what helped me a lot was how she reflected things back to me. And she did it with a lot of compassion and a lot of grace. And honestly, so my therapist is a type two on the enneagram, which I didn't know and she's not a big enneagram person but she's familiar and so she would on Honestly, like she would get tears in her eyes as I spoke. And so I felt really seen when that happened. And so that definitely built trust for me. And I think another thing that helped was when she would, she would share some of her own heart here, and they're not very much. But she would say, you know, this is a little self disclosure, but then she would kind of show some of herself to Me, too. And I think that that really helped to bridge between us and to build that trust factor. Wow.

Michael Shahan 5:36
Yeah, there's a therapist that I read a book of a long time ago, learned a lot from him. He says vulnerability, vulnerability begets vulnerability. So like, when the when the therapist is willing and able to be vulnerable, that almost invites the client to be vulnerable, because it's, I think it'll be hard as a client to be vulnerable. If your therapist is this robot who never shows anything. They can feel weird, I think. Not. Yeah, it can be harder to be vulnerable and thinking they're not human.

Dani Cooper 6:03
I agree so much. And that's definitely true. In my case, so, but I mean, all that said, like, I was building trust, like, little by little, so yeah, okay. So while Yeah, she was very gentle, like she knew when to push a tiny bit, and when to pull back. And sometimes she would even preface it, like, I'm gonna, I feel like, I need to press on this a little bit. I wonder what you would think if I asked this question, or something like that. And so, you know, it made me feel like I wasn't gonna get pushed beyond where I was ready to go.

Michael Shahan 6:40
Sure, sort of asking permission or letting you know that she was gonna push sort of warning you like a gentle, kind way,

Dani Cooper 6:48
right. So but she also was just really smart about not, not just trying to go to those big hard places right away. And so little by little session by session, there was just a little bit more of a sense of trust and camaraderie, and kind of a sense that we were in it together. And, you know, she was there to, you know, give that encouragement or to press in if if the situation or the topic for the day was, was, you know, warranting that so. But I think in the beginning, I just really wanted her to have a checkoff sheet that said, we're going to go here, and then we're going to go here, and then we're going to go here, and then you'll be done. You'll be all therepized". There, you'll have arrived. And every problem you have would be, you know, solved with a nice, tiny little bow. So I think that was where my hopes going in. And so I think I've settled into the process and grown a little more comfortable with being in process, which is not easy for me as an enneagram. Type One,

Michael Shahan 7:58
kind of want to check the box comfortable, like learning to be comfortable in the process itself.

Dani Cooper 8:04
Yes. Because process means messy for me,

Michael Shahan 8:07
whoa, okay. Well,

Dani Cooper 8:08
yeah. And messes are the number one thing to sort of activate my ego and my defense mechanisms. So knowing that about myself, I can kind of see what she's doing. Sometimes I'm like, Okay, oh, I see what I just did.

Michael Shahan 8:25
Wow. So so like, one of the things that can sort of activate your defense mechanisms and your ego more than anything is messiness. And I love that. I think this happens a lot. And a lot of people I've interviewed, this has been a theme of like, the biggest thing that tends to trigger these defense mechanisms, they're able to kind of experience it in a safe way and learn that it's okay. Like so it sounds like you're saying, like in the messiness, like in her trust, you learn that the messiness is part of it. And the messiness doesn't mean the bad things that you think it means or something like you're able to experientially learn to tolerate the messiness over just even over practicing it.

Dani Cooper 9:03
Right. Yeah, it's almost like you get this invitation to just be yourself to be human, to not censor yourself. That takes trust to, you know, just many times in the first month, and still sometimes, she'll be like, I noticed that a little bit of a wall went up right there, or can you tell me what just happened right there. And that's definitely my shield, trying to protect something that I felt maybe too vulnerable about. You know, even that question helped me see that that was happening because it was not very conscious for me, you know,

Michael Shahan 9:40
oh, no, the wall was going up at first and so she started kind of pointing it out.

Dani Cooper 9:45
Yeah. And so even just being able to lower defenses in therapy has been part of my work like I I need to show up really put together and not messy and all of that for my therapist. Like what what makes therapists think if I like actually cried and I had to blow my nose. I know. Yeah,

Michael Shahan 10:06
but it was difficult. Oh, it's the amount of people who apologize for blowing their nose in my office was wild.

Dani Cooper 10:12
right? It's like the uncontrollable man, you know, like, yeah, so I think a good therapist, you know, lets you be that way and doesn't let you apologize for humaneness. You know, just yeah welcomes it and sort of celebrates it like I see you're crying. I'm really proud that you're crying right now. And so that's part of what my therapist has done for me, because emotional vulnerability, and messiness is probably the worst part of it for me. So, so that's been a big deal.

Michael Shahan 10:46
Yeah, obviously, that's amazing. I love I love that that's really encouraging and exciting to hear that. Because it's like, so much of what you're saying, isn't just I learned this about myself. And my therapist told me to do this. And I did it like that. You haven't said any of that? Yeah, that's what I wanted. That wasn't expected to come into it. Doing right. Wow. So now you don't have that expectation. But it sounds like you're saying the there's still a struggle with that desire, the lack of messiness, and to the finish sness not being in the process.

Dani Cooper 11:19
I don't think I'm alone in that we go to therapy, seeking a solution. And so that sounds pretty cut and dried. It sounds like, you know, here's the problem. Here's your prescription, you know, after 10 days, and this bottle is empty, you're going to be fine. Yeah. And so I, I love how therapy has helped me grow. Because I mean, life isn't like that at all. I mean, we live with the illusion that we can just fix things. And that's kind of my whole persona, that what can I do to fix this I can, I can surely make something all better. But just being able to live life on a journey, I think, is a really big skill that we all need. So, and I think a good therapist invites you to that journey and walks alongside you.

Michael Shahan 12:10
Yeah, and I love this could be a whole different topic. But I love that this so uniquely enneagram, one-ish, your own journey, yet, your therapist doesn't really even know much about the enneagram, but she was able to still see these places that that you struggle with, and to help you with that even without having the enneagram language, which I think they can both be really helpful, but they can also on their own. Together, they're great, but just show like, Yeah, I just love seeing hear people's journeys, and how much it relates to their enneagram number, like everything you just said, is so perfectly one-ish,

Dani Cooper 12:41
right? Yeah, and you know, to use some enneagram language, or how I teach the enneagram is just that, you know, it's, whenever we're growing outside of our number, we're growing out of some of the tendencies of our type, we're not going outside of ourselves necessarily to get things we're looking at other types to sort of grow us as a human, you know, but everything is within us. And I think as you're my therapist has helped me sort of go within and set see the pieces of myself that are there that have these skills that I think I don't have, like the ability to really process my emotions and be vulnerable, and, you know, be undefended, and let people see, you know, sort of behind the mask of the messiness and be free. You know, so like, I have those things within me, like, you know, as a child, before I wanted to fix it all, I was free and, and I didn't have a lot of burdens. So they're there inside of you. And I think what my therapist has done is just fine. Help me find those places where I have that piece that I need, as opposed to really even looking to my therapist for answers or anything, myself that each of us really has this storehouse of ways we can lean and kind of round out our sense of who we are and the strengths that we can bring. So

Michael Shahan 14:05
Wow, that's also not and yeah, so coming in expecting that your therapist would like give you something you need to fix this and make it better when in reality, she sort of helped you see the parts that are inside of you already that you have what you need that you just didn't know were there or didn't know existed.

Dani Cooper 14:21
Right? And you know, not not to take anything away from her. I think that's even more magical than just being someone who hands you hands you the solution sheet but actually shows you where to go to get it from yourself. So

Michael Shahan 14:36
no, which I imagine would take her trusting you as well. Huh? Yeah, I would imagine otherwise you wouldn't feel the need to. I think for me, as a therapist, I have to trust my clients if I don't trust that they have what they need internally. I think I'm going to act like that in subtle ways without realizing it.

Dani Cooper 14:51
That's probably true. I would guess that for sure. I I know as an enneagram. Coach, if I don't feel like I have the answer or person's not finding it. I feel like I need to find it and give it to them. But that's probably my type showing up. Sure. But yeah, so yeah, that's really interesting, I think. Yeah,

Michael Shahan 15:12
I love that. And exciting to hear all just all of that. Yeah. Another question. What is what caused you initially, like your first time ever seeing a therapist to even reach out? for that?

Dani Cooper 15:25
Yeah. So, first of all, I think every person on the planet should get a therapist. And yeah, you know, you're not paying me, I'm not a therapist. And Michael's not paying me to say these things, to get more therapy gigs, but I truly believe it. Because, I mean, we all have past traumas, we all have difficulties in relationships. And I think we all need a safe spot to just show up without any of the I don't want to say burden. But I think you'll know what I mean by saying burden, the burden of being in relationship like in the world, where you have to trade off talking, and you have to, you know, really be interested in the other person that you're talking to, and have this back and forth conversation. I love that with people, obviously, I'm in a helping profession, and I love being with others, and doing that back and forth. But as a person who's done that, in most of my relationships throughout my life, I needed a place to just be heard and seen and not have to worry about if I was talking too much or

Michael Shahan 16:35
not the space.

Dani Cooper 16:36
Yeah, so I think that's right, that word space is, is I think all of us as humans need a little space where we can just kind of be ourselves and let everything out that needs to come out. So. So for that reason, I feel like in my life at that time, I was having some relational issues. My husband and I were going through a hard time, as far as we had just been part of like a church organization for a really long time, we had been really tough worker, really hard workers for a long time. And we were exhausted. And so you know what it's like when you know, you're exhausted. And it's been a long road, your relational capabilities fall off a lot. And so I wanted some support around that. And I also had some, some past healing that I needed to do some tough relationships with family members. And then you know, personal trauma too. And so I knew that I wanted to not leave that in the shadow any longer in as a person who is going to be sharing space with others who came to see me, in my practice, I really wanted to have been through the therapeutic process too. So I knew what it felt like. And so all of those reasons, kind of rolled into one.

Michael Shahan 18:02
Not one like exact major specific thing, but lots of things kind of together that you wanted to write.

Dani Cooper 18:09
I think I was feeling messy, and I needed to help someone untangled my mess.

Michael Shahan 18:14
Okay, okay. Sure. So you said you said that you when I first met you hit start with a new therapist, and you tried another therapist for therapists?

Dani Cooper 18:23
Yeah, I had an honestly, that relationship ended. And I look back and don't feel as though I had trust with that therapist. Really? So yeah, I mean, I don't know if that's why this therapist feels so good. Or if and you know why I didn't leave my therapy relationship with the first therapist sooner, but afterward, I, I really had some questions about some of the methods and some of the even confidentiality, you know, really. So you know, yeah, every therapist isn't equal to another for sure. Yeah.

Michael Shahan 19:05
Yeah. Do you feel comfortable at all sharing some of the things that may create an unsafe environment in that or is that feel to I don't know, I don't know if it's too vulnerable or uncomfortable to share?

Dani Cooper 19:14
Well, yeah, in this relationship, I knew at least one other person who went to this therapist and, and, like we knew each other, we're going to see this person. And at one point is a therapist said something about that other person that I thought crossed a line. And oh, wow, in sharing with me, because it wasn't related to me. And so in retrospect, you know, if someone's telling you stuff about someone else, it's probably likely that they might share things about you at some point.

Michael Shahan 19:52
There's a lot of trust going out the window when you hear that

Dani Cooper 19:55
to me. Sure. So yeah, I just I didn't find that to be very appropriate. And so after a time, we just, I just, you know, told him that I would be looking for someone else and so

Michael Shahan 20:11
hard to do the process of sort of quitting your therapist or firing your therapist or however people want to word it.

Dani Cooper 20:17
Yeah, I never like to end a relationship. And so I find that that goes to my subtypes, too, for sure. Like, those connections are okay. But, um, you know, and I don't want to hurt anybody, necessarily. And I want to make sure that I'm doing the right thing. So I guess it was it was difficult for me in a way. But I also, we had, we were having some financial struggles at that point, too. And so that was another easy way to be like, yeah, I can't really afford therapy right now. I wonder if a lot of people use that excuse to change therapists. I'm not sure.

Michael Shahan 20:58
I'm getting paranoid

Dani Cooper 21:04
about that. But I think that's the main thing that led to it. And I, you know, I really, I liked getting outside of a circle of other people that I knew were using the same therapist to for some reason, it just felt safer to me.

Michael Shahan 21:18
Yeah. Yeah. That even knowing Yeah, that makes sense. I love that you were able to realize that I felt unsafe, or were you able to? Because it sounds like you said after this therapist, you realize more and more how unsafe that last one felt. Were you clued in to how unsafe the first one felt, or is that not something you could put language to until later? How did that come about?

Dani Cooper 21:39
I think that's a good question. I think that you're right, that I the full understanding of it definitely came later. It just felt off. I think that feeling, you know, I'm a gut person. And so it just felt like something wasn't quite right there. So but you're right, the clarity came later, as I talked more with the other person who had gone to this therapist, and you know, we kind of talked about things that felt kind of iffy. And then so Oh, okay, you know, so now and, and, you know, in retrospect, it made it was an easy decision not to go back, but back then it was harder, and, but it was a great change turns out, listen to your gut. If something's off that can be hard for people to do.

Michael Shahan 22:26
Sure. Yeah, cuz I think so many people probably wondered if it's a one if it was slightly easier for you like this is the right thing. I can trust my gut. There's a lot of people may have a hard time trusting a garden, but that's me that's gonna hurt their feelings. But what if this What if this can maybe I was wondering if that can catch other people out more? So, baby, so but I don't want to sound like I'm dismissing your difficulties. Good. No.

Dani Cooper 22:54
Oh, yeah. Good, good. Good. I don't know I have a heavy two wing a lot of the time. And so I'm, I'm pretty like people oriented. So sometimes the hurting feelings thing, because it's so wrong to hurt someone's feelings that can trip me up, too. So it was complicated. And I think it would be complicated for most people

Michael Shahan 23:14
in their own ways. Yeah.

Dani Cooper 23:15
Maybe not my son, who is a type eight and like, he's a specially eight. And so it's like, when you're done, he is done. Done? No, I admire that sometimes, man, where you could just yeah, here's my line. I'm sorry. You cross it? game. Oh, wow.

Michael Shahan 23:33
Yeah, I need some of that to me. Remember, it's there? Oh, you gotta get that language. I need to access more of that. There you go. So totally. So one of the questions about sort of like, because different therapists have their own ideas about and their own theories about what creates change, what makes change, what what their role as a therapist is, what kinds of things create shifts and clients lives for you What? We might have hit on this already, but I want to ask it, what has created the most change for you, in your opinion? Like, what what are the things that shifted things the most in you?

Dani Cooper 24:14
Wow, okay, that's really good. One thing I think is helpful is having a rhythm of therapy going. I think when I started, I'd be like, Oh, yeah, I'll check in every four to six weeks and it'll be fine. You just give me the to do list and I'll work on it. And that was kind of the mindset but now I value so much the set time on on a rhythm I go every two weeks, I could go every week, you know, but I think that that's part of it is just getting that reset button every couple weeks, where you know, my mindsets are being witnessed and challenged. That's really helpful and you know, I think also having this relationship with her and having her listen to what's happened from week to week. I look forward to being aware of what's happening in the next couple weeks. Like, in some ways, it's like I show up, and I unburden and I get encouragement. But then I go and spend the next couple of weeks just being aware of, of how I'm bringing up emotion, how I'm letting myself feel it. So so. So I think that that has been good. It's like, almost it's still maybe my little sneaky to do list where it's like, okay, yeah, okay, I'm supposed to let my emotion come up. Okay. All right. And then I get to go back and tell her. I cried for a solid hour. Are you so proud of me? Write me off my horse right away and said, yeah, that's really great. So tell me all about it. Tell me let's see if we can get there. And I'm like, Oh, no, I don't want to go there. What do you

Michael Shahan 25:55
think, noticed? And told you like, Don't make me do more? Yeah. Wow. So there's Wow. So there's still a bit of that to do list need, but you almost use it, to push yourself in with her combined with her willingness to witness and challenge you. You're able to sort of go to different places with it more than Yeah,

Dani Cooper 26:15
I mean, I think whenever we can use the ego tricks of our type to trick ourselves into doing the thing that's good for us that that's a win. So like, you know, I want to do the right thing. And that's my hang up, right. But you know, what, if the right thing is to, you know, do the thing that I always thought was wrong, which was yes, I feel my emotions, whatever. So you kind of turn it on its head to get to where you need to be.

Michael Shahan 26:44
I don't think I've ever heard that language that way before. But I love that I think there's a part of me that thinks if you're using your ego at all, then it's bad because supposed to get away from it. But I think that's way too black and white. to step out of that.

Dani Cooper 26:54
Yeah. Ego is our friend. Honestly, it's just too much of a friend. It's that overbearing friend who always wants to come to everything.

Michael Shahan 27:04
Even when it's not needed or not helpful. Yeah. So to use it for the best parts of it to help further you along your growth. That is so cool.

Dani Cooper 27:13
Yeah. I mean, you know, you have to you got to use whatever tricks you can sometimes, but, sure. But yeah, so I think it's helpful to show up and have to sort of let her know how things have gone. And then, you know, we never have an agenda. I don't know if this is how you do therapy. But she's like, I'm never gonna, you know, say, Okay, this is what we're going to work on today. I'm going to let you show up and what comes is what we're supposed to talk about today. So what's on your mind? And so I'll be in the shower. Three hours beforehand, going, man, I could talk to her about this, but I don't know if I can go there today, and I'm not really sure. Same thing.

Michael Shahan 27:57
For like, days. What am I gonna bring up? Yeah, what do I talk about what's important to bring into this my own thing? Yeah.

Dani Cooper 28:04
So that question of hers, like, so what's on your mind? Well, where's our mind go immediately back to what we were thinking we did not want to talk about. Then she'll see me and she'll be like, What just happened? They're like, I don't think that was what you were gonna say. I'm like, dang it.

Michael Shahan 28:22
She's really? Yeah. So yeah. I love you said earlier when your mindsets are witnessed and challenged, and I keep thinking about that, like, just like she witnesses you so well. And I think those are both. I think a chair a therapist that only witnesses but doesn't challenge can be really unhelpful. And the other way a therapist that only challenging does a witness can be very unhelpful. I love that balance that you brought up the witnessing and challenging. Yeah, that's the way you language that.

Dani Cooper 28:56
Well, I feel like you kind of just distilled it down. But that's so true. I mean, it's one thing to have someone witness us, but you're right, one or the other, is not a balanced approach and doesn't help us very much right. Because we need Yeah, measures of those things at different times. So

Michael Shahan 29:15
yeah, and I think different therapists Probably, yeah, there's a nine I can witness All right, that is easy for me very, more so than lots of other therapists. But the challenge for me is the risky part. It feels so risky, and I think my and, and part of me thinks as I told myself that the challenges is that I give clients is worth a lot more than somebody who loves to challenge because it's fun. I that's what I tell myself at least, like it's hard to push, I think I think and I hope my clients know how hard it is for me and can feel the amount of trust I have in them in respect I have for them in the desire for them to heal, that can drive that need to challenge because it's so important because if I didn't care about them, I probably wouldn't challenge honestly.

Dani Cooper 29:58
Right? Right. And I bet you're really good at challenging with encouragement. Like, that's a soft challenge, but it's still a challenge. Yeah. Okay. Like for someone like me who would show up and say, This is so terrible, and I'm failing at this, and I feel like, you know, I'm never going to be, you know, this or that, you know, to get pushed on. But with really, with a lot of softness and a lot of care is still effective. It's still words that I need to hear. So true. So I by challenging, even people who just need that encouragement from you, so

Michael Shahan 30:35
yeah, that's helpful. Thank you for that refrain. Yeah. So reframing is a thing. Yeah. Tell me about that. You brought that up earlier about how we would need to talk about reframing in your therapy process. Yeah, let's talk

Dani Cooper 30:46
about that. Okay. So that's some things that I didn't really recognize that I was doing in life, except for I tend to be pretty optimistic person. Type ones aren't always known as the most optimistic type. But like, when I'm thinking of the optimism triad, I want to sneak myself in there, because I feel like I have a pretty rose colored glasses view, my husband would say that, but I live with a type six, and he is definitely on the low optimism scale. So I'm constantly balancing Okay, even in my home life. And so I think that's what I bring the therapy to, like, we bring our selves to therapy, like, you know, whether we know we are not everything about us kind of shows up there. And either is given freely or leaks out, or you know, is coaxed forth depending on your therapy approach. But so I often get challenged, because I will show up and I'll say, Yeah, like, I had this really hard weekend, and my husband and I had this fight, and it was just terrible. And we haven't fought like that for a long time. You know, and I'll stay there for 4.8 seconds. And then I'll spend the next 10 minutes saying, but you know, what, afterward, it was so amazing. Like, I feel like we're closer than we've ever been now. And we had this great talk. And he saw this, and I noticed this and like, and my therapist will often challenge and say, why did you feel like you needed to refrain that so quickly, you know,

Michael Shahan 32:19
wow. Wow. So she'll notice you're speeding past the difficult into the positive and even question that like, not blaming, but so just questioning about what's happening. 100% and you with that?

Dani Cooper 32:30
Yeah, I think you use the right terminology, just pressing fast forward over the messy or hard or painful or embarrassing parts. So, you know, I think that, you know, from my experience, I think I just show up in therapy, still wanting to perform, still wanting to feel like I work I'm figuring things out, and that I'm not falling back into old patterns. And so I think sometimes it can be hard to sit and do the work. But if we don't sit and do the work, then those things are more likely to keep reoccurring, I've found so I don't know, reframing can be really, really good. I don't think of it as a negative thing most of the time. Sure, but I'm in therapy, when you're there to, you know, stay places that you'd rather not stay so that you can mine for what you need to discover in those places. If you speed past it, if you hit that fast forward button, then you're missing opportunities. And so sometimes I want to miss those, like I do that on purpose. And I do it on unconsciously because I know if I have a good therapist, she's gonna drag me back kicking and screaming, so to speak.

Michael Shahan 33:50
Yeah, like you said, to stay where you don't want to stay is where you can learn a lot. And so too, sometimes if you don't want to have your therapist, help you stay, we don't want to stay and get the valuable the value that can come in the learning that can come from that.

Dani Cooper 34:04
Yeah, I mean, when we're uncomfortable, there's a lot to learn.

Michael Shahan 34:09
Oh, don't tell me that. I don't like that. Isn't that the worst? When I say terrible. I hate that. That's true. I say that a lot. Like it is one of the worst truths. And I wish it wasn't I wish there was another way around it. And I wish that wasn't true. Like all with me.

Dani Cooper 34:27
I know. I know. So later on a type one who really wants to just like, you know, you know how, okay, so we've been doing a little redecorating in our house, nothing big but just like, you know, it's COVID. So we need to spruce up the space. So we're repainting a bathroom. And so you know, all the crap is out of the bathroom and out of the drawers and everything is everywhere. And kids are showering in our bathroom because they can't use theirs and you know, and so like everything is a huge mess. So I'm like angry. I'm like ah, everything. Terrible. Why is everything such a gigantic mess? You know? Well, there's

Michael Shahan 35:07
a guy sound like he's like my wife. He said exactly. was unreal. It's hard.

Dani Cooper 35:12
It's hard to face. Yeah. So it's so like, there's all of this mess going on in the back of our minds. We know like in that bathroom, like things are getting spiffed up, things are going great, they are getting better. But I often cannot see that when they're still messy things around. And so I prefer to have everything back in its place. You know, everything wipes down everything clean, which lasts for you know how long like milliseconds. Because real life isn't like that. But so I feel like therapy often can pull things apart for me in certain ways like that. And so, in the course of a session, we may get down into the basement and pull out a bin of things, and then that strewed all over the room. Wow. And so what's really important for me after that is reassurance so to say, you know, like I know, things felt a little messy today. She'll say to me, you know, but, you know, here's what I want to call your attention to that you were able to stay longer in that discomfort you were Oh. And I think that that's how we see the little the progress. I don't want to think it's hard that we don't see progress. It's just we see it in different ways than we're than I was expecting when I entered.

Michael Shahan 36:40
Yeah, I found a lot, especially when people will make rapid progress or a lot of progress. They almost can't see it, like their partners sees it first or they're like, Wait a second, I reacted completely different than I wouldn't even realize it like it can be such a shift. And like that just happens. And I love love celebrating that with clients that is like, hold on, do you realize what you just said? Do you does what you just did? You wouldn't have done that before? And they'd be like, no, every time they're surprised, like, Wait, you're right. I didn't even think about that. I don't even see that.

Dani Cooper 37:09
That is fun. As a therapist, I'm guessing and very nice as a as the person who's the client who, you know, is getting recognized for the work that that they've done, because it doesn't come easy, but it's, it's so good. It's so good. And yeah, it's been really grateful for just a new kind of awareness, a slower awareness than I was looking for, truthfully. But the slowing down to notice and to really care for the pieces of me that are in that messy basement of My Life Care for

Michael Shahan 37:48
even in the mass, which is huge for you. That's huge for me. I think is that that messy? I love that metaphor use. A lot of times I'll tell my clients when they first start, like it's possible your life not as possible you live your life, if you do the work is gonna look like a construction zone, like it's going to be annoying. You're gonna have to reroute different ways it's going to slow down what you normally do, it's going to be a mess. But like that's what it takes to build new things, unfortunately.

Dani Cooper 38:14
Yes. And I, you know, I don't like hearing that. But I think it's, I think it's the way that things actually stick. I think it's the way that new patterns are formed to you know, and if we're thinking about the brain and how things get rewired up there. You know how you have to sort of travel a pathway even in the woods, like if you're trying to make a path from point A to point B, it takes a lot of trips back and forth. Oh, sure. Make the path way happen. And I think that the same thing is true for how our brain can change when we decide to watch our mindsets and give ourselves healthy mindsets to travel along, you know, more healthy behaviors. And so we just tread that path back and forth with practice and with showing up in therapy and trying to implement those tools in our lives. The slower that it happens, and the more we go back and forth on it, and back and forth is the kicker because going forth is fun going back is. But wow, you know, we're deepening those connections and making new ones. And hopefully the slow process is kind of baking that in and helping us choose that even when we're not aware of it. Because that's the real money. That's like what you were describing with your client. Like they didn't maybe even recognize that it happened because it rewired and become the new knee jerk, right? Yeah.

Michael Shahan 39:52
Uh huh. Uh huh.

Dani Cooper 39:53
So that's a big gift. You know when when shifts can happen that way Ones that your white knuckling and ones that you're just letting happen. So,

Michael Shahan 40:04
yeah, they're definitely both growth for sure. Even if you have to white knuckle it versus if it just comes naturally. Definitely, definitely both growth.

Dani Cooper 40:11
Yeah. Yeah. So that's been, that's been really good. And so as far as the results so far that I've seen, because I haven't arrived yet, I'm still like on the journey

Michael Shahan 40:24
to get there.

Dani Cooper 40:24
We'll see. I'll check in with her next week and see if I can get a timeline. Okay. Yeah, but I so personal wins. so far have just been the ability to see how I show up. Because if I'm going to show up defended in therapy, then probably I'm showing up, defended in some of my other relationships, too. So yeah, I started, I started recognizing what things really make me feel like I need a defense, you know, who puts me on the defensive. And then I think just developing curiosity. I love enneagram for this is just developing an observer standpoint, watching what you do, being curious about what's behind it. And therapy is, of course, so supportive of all those things. But watch out for what puts me in those places that ultimately don't lead me someplace fruitful. That's been really good. And yeah, I mean, getting braver to go deeper into some of my stories that I don't want to remember, this is the messy basement stuff the stuff way back in the corner that I don't talk about with her every week. But sometimes we get closer and I've begun to notice emotion that comes up when I get close to certain subjects and where I feel it in my body. So I love that she connects to, you know, more of a somatic sort of approach. Okay, noticing where emotions are in my body has helped me connect to having more emotion. I think I have cried more. This past year and a half than ever in my life. Maybe. Whoa,

Michael Shahan 42:12
it's weird really connecting to those emotions in a big way.

Dani Cooper 42:16
Yeah, yeah. My move to four is a one is probably helping with that as well. I this is embarrassing to say. But when I first figured out that I was a one on the enneagram. And understood, like, of course, I was cool with my move to seven. But my move to four was like, Oh, no, no, there is like, I literally had a visceral negative reaction to it. And it was only because of the emotion that I knew lived there. And how

Michael Shahan 42:44
much not wanting to go to those like that for space represents those that sort of deep, dark, emotional,

Dani Cooper 42:50
that was like hell no space for me. So yeah, okay, so my husband, I even asked him cuz he's, of course, like, when you're in therapy, if you're in a relationship with someone, they're sort of in therapy to because like, they're getting the therapy overflow from you and how you're changing. But I was like, so like, he was getting used to seeing me cry, my kids were getting used to seeing me cry. And it wasn't like a terrible thing. Always. It was like, oh, now normalizing emotion in my home. Like, oh, mom's processing something, it doesn't mean like, you know, like, some terrible occurrence has happened. This is just normal human stuff to get back to what we talked about the beginning, you know, and so just some of the things that I've been able to work on in therapy have had an impact in my home, in the way that the people in my home feel safer to express emotion now than they did because the mom knows how to express her own emotion. So

Michael Shahan 43:53
free you to get to learn to be safe for feeling your own emotions. It almost like extends out to like the systems that you're a part of in your own life.

Dani Cooper 44:01
That has been my experience for sure. Yeah.

Michael Shahan 44:05
It doesn't just shift things in you. It shifts things in a positive way. And people around you too.

Dani Cooper 44:10
Yeah, definitely. Can it definitely can. My husband said I said, Dave, how long? Like how often do you think you'd see me cry before? 2020? He's like I did. Because it was weird for me. I knew him. So. So he's like, I don't know, maybe like 10 times ever. So we've been together for Okay, we've been together for like 24 No, like, many years, less than 30 years, because like I met him right out of high school, but like almost and so we've been together for a long time. And he's like, you know, maybe 10 times I've seen you cry. And he's like, I mean, it's been hundreds of times. So. So let's just say the dam has broken and so now you know, it's probably you 30 years worth of emotion or more than that,

Michael Shahan 45:03
kind of getting back feeling all of these things?

Dani Cooper 45:05
Yeah. But it's been really, really healing in so many ways to recognize that. First of all that emotion doesn't kill you. Yeah, crying, you won't die if you cry. It's so freeing. It's been life changing. And Jen, then just kind of how you can come back to this place of settled newness. After a good cry. I never knew what people meant by a good cry. I was like, What the heck does that mean?

Michael Shahan 45:37
People were just crazy. Who said Yeah,

Dani Cooper 45:39
what kind of emotional mutant Are you know, turns out, they were like, normal. They were like the normal ones that knew that emotion needed to be processed. So. So yeah, so it's definitely made it more normative for me personally. I've recognized emotion and others and been able to sit with it better also. Yeah, you know, perfect

Michael Shahan 46:02
sense. Usually what you can't tolerate in yourself you can't tolerate in other people. Absolutely makes perfect sense. As you learn learn to tolerate yourself and learn how you can you sort of allow it your Yeah, it's easier for you to sit with with other people without moving in and changing it or fixing it or something.

Dani Cooper 46:16
100% that fixing it, for sure. And so, so that's been probably one of the biggest wins in therapy, there's a million of them a million ways that, that showing up. As a practice, that's good for my mental, emotional, spiritual, physical health, all of those ways. Wow. But I think that's been my biggest takeaway, for sure.

Michael Shahan 46:43
That's so cool. Yeah. Thanks. Yeah, you've done, you've done amazing work in therapy, if you could. So one more question I want to ask if you could, what would you tell somebody who is considering therapy, listening to this, but has not started the process yet? What would you say to them?

Dani Cooper 47:02
Um, well, the time you don't want to go to therapy the most is right before your appointment. Like, if you push past the I don't know, and you actually make that first appointment, it's gonna be really difficult for you to go to your first appointment, expect that to happen, you're going to have every excuse in the book that you don't want to go to therapy that day, for this reason, for that reason, maybe I should wait till I have something more to talk about. Maybe this or that you're going to

Michael Shahan 47:38
reasons will pop up in your

Dani Cooper 47:39
head. And my advice is go anyway, what comes up is meant to come up. And, and it's really worth it, I think. And the other thing I might add is, don't be afraid to try a few therapists, like, if you're not sure on your first shot, then you know, there's nothing, there's nothing wrong with you going to a different one to see, I think, you know, the therapeutic relationship, like both parties really want to be in it, you know, because you're a match. And so if you don't feel like you've made a match first thing, then be open to trying someone else. And it's maybe the bravest and most responsible and loving thing you can do for yourself is to actually go to therapy. So

Michael Shahan 48:28
Wow. That's encouraging to hear. And hope people can hear that. Yes, yeah. Yes. I love to encourage people to do that. And I'm seriously really thankful for you being able to be vulnerable enough to come on here and share this show these over places. So I really, really appreciate you for that. You're so welcome. Do you do you want to tell anybody listening, like, where to find information on you? And because you do awesome things with your coaching and teaching and stuff. I'd love if you wanted to tell people where you do that and where to find you.

Dani Cooper 49:00
Okay, yeah, thank you. Yes, so you can find me at deep waters. enneagram mainly on Instagram. I'm also on Facebook, less active there and I hope to get a clubhouse invite someday. That's my big thing that I'm hoping for, because I think that'll be fun. But yeah, my website is deep waters. And, yeah, I'd love to, you know, hear from people there for sure. I love connecting with people. So, and I'd love to connecting with you today, Michael. Yeah, you're

Michael Shahan 49:33
doing I loved it. Thank you so much. Yeah. Thanks for listening to this episode of same time next week. Please feel free to share with your family and friends to help support the show and help us and working towards Destigmatizing therapy. So same time next week.

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