What Do You Do Wholeheartedly?

Photo Courtesy of Jamie R.

Being city dogs, Emerson (left) and Boo (right) rarely get to run off-leash.  Recently I was able to take them to an open field that was enclosed, and the above picture shows the result.  Boo especially pours her heart and soul into running.  When she has the space to open up, she amazes us all with her energy, focus and concentration.  At eight years old, she is just as fast as she was 5 years ago.

My dogs are great therapists and coaches.  They are great therapists because they remind me of the power of mindfulness.  When they run, they aren’t worrying about dinner or money or what they need to do next.  They run.  They are great coaches because they do what they love without fear.  They don’t hold “just a little bit” of their energy back, “just in case.”

Obviously I would be a horrible pet companion if I let those two off-leash just anywhere.  They could get hurt if the space was not enclosed.  The same goes for my business, I can’t just go dashing off willy-nilly most of the time.  I can’t go off every insurance panel at once, or double my fee; there is a place for care and caution.  But there are spaces I put into place where I have the safety to just barrel forward, I need those.  Those moments when I am fully focussed and engaged with something, to hell with caution.  Those moments when I feel wholeheartedly how powerful I can be, how alive I am.

Do you have those moments in your practice?  When you are in “the zone?”  I am sure many of you do.  And I am referring specifically to your business and psychotherapy.  Too often we think that “real life” is lived outside of our work, clinical or entrepeneurial.  We view those things as the ends to the means of having time to do what we really want.  Bad idea.

Say you work 40 hours a week, which has 168 hours in it.  That is a quarter of your life. Have you really made the decision to give up on finding meaning and energy and purpose for a quarter of your life?  Assuming you sleep that probably leaves you only half your lifeweek left.  I’m not giving up that much time without a fight.  And that’s what we do when we say things like, “They pay me to do this, that’s why they call it work.”  It’s just like when a patient says, “that’s just the way I am.”  We’re really saying in both cases, “I give up.”

So if you are going to work each day at some agency feeling numb, or opening your office door much of the time with a sense of dread, maybe it is time to invite your lifeforce in.  Even if it is only a few fenced-in hours or a day, give yourself the space to take something and run with it.  I can honestly say that most of the time, every day, I enjoy my work.  I never, I repeat, never think about retirement, other than some financial planning for it.

You probably saw where I was going with this a while back:  When was the last time you opened up and went full throttle in your practice?  When was the last time you gave your single-pointed mindfulness and drive to your business?  Why do you hold yourself back?


  1. Mike, I really enjoyed reading this blog. I couldn’t agree with you more. I personally know many therapists that aren’t connected to their work. The image of your dogs running full throttle is a wonderful metaphor. I wish more people were as inspired to be as creative and motivated with their work and their personal life to be fully alive. Thank you for sharing.

    • @ Renee: Very glad to hear you enjoyed the blog. I too know several therapists who seem to “go through the motions” and never speak of their work without sounding exasperated. I don’t refer to them.

  2. When I saw the title of your post on Twitter (someone else had shared the link), I was so intrigued by the question that I clicked right on over. If anything, I have a tendency to do the things I like to do way too wholeheartedly, and, likewise, I need a large kick in the behind in order to even get a start on doing the things I avoid entirely. 🙂 The question of “why do you hold yourself back?” is an excellent one, and it’s one I continue to explore.

    I absolutely agree with you that it’s insane to do work that doesn’t inspire you day after day. That is way too much of a waste of the short time we have in a life (and I say this while fully endorsing periods of time wasting, mind you).

    Meanwhile, I must tell you what a cool photo that is of your dogs! For some reason on my iPad it came out looking 3D (of course, that could be my failing 44 year old eyes). It is so beautiful and action-filled!


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