Defending Myself

I’m going to be visiting a friend who is the head of a Behavioral Health Department in a major hospital. They do a lot of work with people who have substance abuse disorder. My life coaching business is focused on helping high-functioning drinkers who haven’t been able to stop – cut back or quit drinking. Whenever she asks about what I’m doing and I tell her, she’s a bit taken aback – and recommends that I go back to college to get an advanced degree in psychology. She doesn’t believe that I’m qualified enough to help my clients cut back or quit drinking. I’ve nodded and said “Oh, that’s an interesting idea” in order to not need to defend myself – but that always feel disingenuous. I like what I do, I help my clients, and I feel like I have the education I need to help my clients. I don’t focus on people who have been diagnosed with substrance abuse disorder – so I feel like they’re 2 different things. But she disagrees.

I’m about to see her in a few days and I’m sure this will come up again. I don’t feel it necessary to defend what I do – or have her accept it – but I also feel uncomfortable when she brings it up and gives me advice. My thought is “She thinks I’m doing the wrong thing” – which then leads to feeling a bit of shame, I ruminate in my head and avoid bringing this up, and then maybe I’m doing the wrong thing. Maybe the “wrong thing” here is simply the unhelpful action of ruminating and not being willing to sit in the space of letting her speak her mind while I listen. Hmmm…

I think “I’m doing the right thing” sounds better – and makes me feel confident – but in that space, what do I do? Confident feels like it might defend myself, but I don’t think that would do anything but disconnect us. She’s happier when I simply agree with her. Can I be confident and still avoid this conversation? Or be confident and still just nod and agree with her – and do my own thing? I’m having a hard time with this model – because I don’t want to (or feel I need to) defend myself, but do I keep just pretending she’s right and doing my own thing? Could “confidence” create a semi-lying situation where I show up different than who I really am? Thanks!