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?

Pet Therapy

This is my sidekick, assistant, pet co-therapist Boo. She has been a part of my practice for over a year now. How she came to practice with me is worth mentioning. I had started my practice with the goal of working 4 days a week in the office, and having an extra day to stay home with my family. Over the past two years my practice had been steadily growing, and I was starting to fill up on four days. I found myself turning away patients because I did not want to give up “my Friday.” And this became problematic, because life, and its expenses, change over time.

I realized that I need to change my business plan, be more flexible, if I was going to have a vibrant positive practice experience. But I also did not want to set myself or my patients up for resentment. Nobody wants a resentful therapist. So I decided to take a look at what made me not want to work Fridays, and I realized that part of it was about work/life balance. Boo is an important part of my work/life balance, and unlike the fellow in the blog banner (more about him some other blog) Boo likes to have a job. In fact she used to come to an alternative school program I worked at, and the kids loved her.

So I made a deal with myself:  I would start working on Fridays, and Boo would come with me. I made it a point to check with new or current patients whether they were allergic or not dog-friendly before offering a Friday appointment to them. Now it is a year later, and I have a wait-list for Fridays! Boo greets each patient in the waiting room and escorts them in, and then after a minute or two she usually lays down on the floor or the couch until the end of the session. On several occasions she has been able to comfort a distraught patient in ways I can’t, and I am forced to admit that she sometimes picks up on a change in feeling before I do. Between appointments, I am able to scratch her ears, pet her, and take her for a walk, all of which can help me work through a difficult appointment. Best of all, although sometimes the extra 15 minutes it takes to get her ready and in the car are more work, I always feel like Fridays are a “casual day” at work.

Owning a business requires being flexible, and seeing opportunities. Are there things you have been finding yourself getting rigid about lately in yours? Can you see any opportunities to change that?