The beginning of my spiritual awakening happened when my mom died in 1996.
I was taking care of her on my own with the help of some much-appreciated volunteer hospice help. The day before she died, I was sitting alone in the room with her and something began to happen: I witnessed a process taking place which seemed to be preparing her for death. After a long illness, her death still felt fast and shocking but at that moment, I could not move. The air was full and tense. All the hairs on my arms stood up.
My mother, who had been deemed brain dead by the doctors for weeks already was laying there mouthing the word “yes” over and over while squinting hard as if to say that the light she was seeing was very bright. Before I knew it, I was on my knees asking someone up there to please help me dedicate my life to “this, whatever this is that I am witnessing here today” it was wild and emotional.
That happening changed my life forever. It’s what lead me to be a healer.
Today I want to tell you about that first year of my healing practice. May this support you, encourage you, and inspire you!
Every healer makes mistakes when starting out. It’s how we learn.
In my first year, I made some important ones which taught me a ton.
Looking back, I’m so glad all of it happened because now I can share them with you. Tough experiences = great teachers. May this inspire you on your own path.
1. Being tentative about my philosophy.
I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and I also didn’t want to get into arguments and so I shied away from owning my truth.
I was reluctant to say things straight out, even when asked. If you aren’t clear about your message and what you believe and aren’t comfortable discussing it with others, it’s a good sign you need a bit of support – and that’s okay, just get the support. I needed help with this, and so I sought help from colleagues and my own healer.
Today people call me a truth teller.
2. Not feeling clear on charging what my time was worth.
As a newbie, I often felt like I needed to give my work away for next to nothing in order to have clients.
This was especially so after I left healing school and the ‘practice clients’ were no longer for practice. I was ready to go and needed to charge a fee but when people would ask me what I charged, I’d often pull my shoulders up, cock my head, and say the amount like it was a question.
Quickly I ran into the issue that people either didn’t value what I offered, or they would forget their checkbook and promise to pay later. My own ambivalence and fear created a lot of ambivalence and uncertainty in the people I attracted. I had people who couldn’t afford my rate which was $50 at the time. They would be writing me a check with a fresh manicure, or talk about having a gym membership or the latest phone, but would somehow they’d struggle to pay me.
One day, a client said to me I don’t mean to be rude but I am wondering if there is anything wrong with you because you are charging such a low fee? From that day on, I committed to myself that my time was of value, and charging what I am worth was very important. I wish I could say to you, and poof, my issue was healed just like that! But we both know that’s not how it works.
Today I am doing very well with this issue because I know that clients cannot receive what they do not value and it’s pretty hard to feel empowered when you don’t charge in accordance with the excellence you offer.
Still, from time to time there are people who struggle to pay me, or they ask for a discount when it’s clear they don’t need it…and it tweaks that old place inside. It’s okay if that happens, it’s a good reminder to practice.
3. Taking on the wrong kinds of clients.
In my first year, I felt like I was the smorgasbord at an all-day buffet. Any clients were better than no clients, right? I was just happy to be working. It was important to be busy, to have a full practice, right?
Then I met the guy who asked me if I would work with him while he was naked.
There was the drunk lady in the Jane Fonda leotard.
The woman who had panic attacks right there in the room.
The woman who flapped her “wings” like a chicken.
The guy who insisted there were people living behind my refrigerator.
The lady who couldn’t handle loud noises and needed everything whispered through her hand clasped ears.
We can’t be all things to all people. That’s not how it works. While you can certainly hone your chops and learn what you like and what you don’t like by seeing a lot of different people, this is ideally done in a setting at a school where you are training as a practitioner and the ‘clients’ are your fellow students.
Even after your training, there are going to be people who are just not a right fit for you and you will need to get comfortable referring them on. Don’t be afraid to speak up – just do it with kindness, have their best interest at heart.
4. Kissing too many butts.
I worried about the needs of my clients at the expense of my own. There was the woman who couldn’t handle loud noises (I could have mentioned her in #3 but it’s a better fit here). Rather than deal with her upset, I once unplugged my sump pump. And then I forgot to plug it back in. It was spring, and I flooded the basement. That night, while I was mopping up the flood, I promised myself I’d kiss my own butt from now on.
I had to laugh when the next week the same client came back and first complained about the sump pump, and then the fan noises…I started feeling anxious and tempted to just turn it all off to keep the peace when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a mouse in the healing room. I felt like it was a little amusing sign from my spirit guides saying, you can’t control everything, baby! Let it go.
If people are too challenging, they are probably not a right fit for you. Too many demands make for a lot of obstacles to overcome in the name of healing. There are people out there who LOVE working with people who cannot tolerate noises, it’s just their groovy thing. Refer them on. Healing is about a right fit. We don’t have to set up another dynamic where this client gets rejected for being too difficult but it also doesn’t mean that we have to work with them out of the fear of re-wounding them.
5. Worrying more about the technique than my client.
I was an overachiever possibly.
I wanted to ring all the bells and get every technique right. I worried about the perfect head angle. I worried about foot positioning. I looked like a pitcher on the mound, constantly positioning herself. OMG if that’s you and you’re reading this, sorry!
This is why being in school and receiving training and having students to practice on is important. But then, when you’re ready to fly solo- you have to think about the client. Checking and rechecking yourself will create safety issues for your client. They will not feel safe.
It’s natural when you’re learning a skill/modality/method to want to get it right. You’re new, you want to do a good job. This is fine, but not at the expense of your client’s needs. First your needs, then your client’s needs, then the modality. If you must consult your chart or notes, do it the way a pilot does when checking the travel coordinates.
You are the one this person has chosen to see for help. You need to hold the powerful intention that you are everything this person needs at this moment, you are powered by the Universe/God/Source energy. Stand strong in your knowledge and trust.
6. Not being present and accounted for in my own being every single day.
Oh, I did the practices. I meditated…sometimes. I did yoga. But when I did those practices, I did them in the mindset that I needed to get prepped and ready for my client. Not prepped and ready for me. Big difference.
I know you hear this a lot: First, put your own oxygen mask on and then take care of the people with you.
It’s not just about practicing what you preach. I also hate to see anyone who is meditating because it fluffs their ego. Do it because it works. If you believe in the efficacy of what you offer, you are practicing for yourself because it works and helps you be where you want to be and this can only strengthen your healing skills.
7. Being too accommodating, too accessible and too available
Ugh. This was my biggest challenge personally. I had a very hard time setting a boundary around my time. I over-gave my time to others and I undervalued my personal needs.
I worried if I wasn’t available 24/7, I wouldn’t have work. (see, I told you I was like a smorgasbord that first year!) I worked on Sundays, I took last-minute sessions, and I answered my phone at all hours. I actually answered. I didn’t screen the calls, I was open and available. If people asked me a lot of questions, I stayed on the phone with them, answering. I’d feel exhausted, but I didn’t see the unconscious affirmation I was making.
I thought that if I acted as if I was eager and willing to work, my client roster would fill right up.
It’s hardly surprising to see that because I wasn’t respecting my own time and setting a set schedule, no one else was respecting me either. I was allowing myself to be run over left and right. I was allowing it. I had no-shows, late-shows, last minute bookers, and one really strange recurring early-arriver.
This woman came to her session 30 minutes early the first time. I should tell you that I see clients in my home. I do not have a waiting room. The first time it happened, I shrugged it off as her being new and nervous and didn’t want to seem petty by asking her to wait. But that week, as every person who came to see me was extremely early – and one person even walked right into my house, “sorry, I just gotta pee!”
I knew it was time to take action. I was beginning to feel like The Hulk, and you wouldn’t like me when I am angry.
I made little cards to hand out to help me because I had a hard time setting the boundary but KNEW any step in the right direction would help me. The cards said: Please do not ring the bell any earlier than your appointment time. I use this time to prepare for our session. Thank you for honoring this.
Ha! As if that little card could protect me from having to say something to the early-arriver! The next week, she arrived again 30 minutes early and rang the bell. This time, I chose to ignore her, because I gave her the card. She knew, right? So why was she ringing the bell? Finally, I went to the door and asked her to please wait until her session time.
I was shaky but feeling proud as I took a deep breath and then turned to see to my surprise that she was backing out of the driveway never to return. She later sent me an email that said: You have a lot to learn about kindness, lady.
Indeed, I did. I needed to learn to be kind to myself rather than bending over backward to accommodate everyone.
8. It’s a lie. There really is a wrong way to do things.
You know how people say: There’s no such thing as right or wrong? In the case of healing work, if you aren’t honoring your own way of doing things, you are doing things the wrong way. You can follow someone else’s way for a while but eventually, it’s going to suck. If you don’t believe in or agree with every piece of what you are doing in your session, you are offering phony baloney to your client.
And, speaking of phony baloney…you know how people say: Fake it till you make it? Nope, you can’t do that either.
That first year, when I was in doubt, I’d fake what I’d seen someone else do. I would also do phony baloney healing modalities which I really didn’t believe in…I did it for a while and it really bothered me. I felt like a fraud. And that is the worst – to feel like a fraud when someone is counting on you to offer support.
Ultimately I had to decide for myself how it’s going to be in those situations, no more faking, no phony baloney. Don’t worry if there are places where you notice gaps in your abilities or understanding. Just commit to yourself that you will seek out new ways to offer healing and also to always be open to receiving support for yourself.
9. Spending money on the wrong things.
I bought supplies I didn’t need. Oils I never used. Incense that made me sneeze. Boxes of candles that turned out to be toxic. Business cards that I didn’t love. Brochures I never used. Blankets I didn’t need. Sheets, sheets, and more sheets.
But the biggest mistake I made as a healer in the first year was placing an ad in the yellow pages. It cost half of what I made each month and netted me exactly ZERO clients, partly because what I have to offer cannot be found in the Yellow Pages. You get my point hopefully. It’s so much better to spend money when you understand why you’re doing it…when you understand your need and feel confident.
10. Thinking I needed to have my entire spiritual + emotional house in order before I could be of service to anyone else.
Today I am often complimented on my ability to share and be real with my clients. I write from a place of vulnerability. I can’t stand it when someone booms down from their tight-butted mountaintop: I have achieved all of this greatness and now I am enlightened and I did it all without once making a mistake. Phooey!
I do believe it’s a skill to share and be real from a place of power. People can lose faith if you constantly say, me too and show your underbelly too often. They are paying you for your expertise, it doesn’t serve if you won’t shine.
We often teach what we most need to learn. It’s our vulnerability which helps people feel safe and connected. Our proof that we’ve been there helps them know that they can do it too. You’re walking the path with them, perhaps a few steps ahead, perhaps you hold the flashlight for them, but you’re on your own journey.
Hollow Yogis are everywhere. Don’t be another one.
Bonus: 11. Deciding lack of bookings means I’m a failure
Be patient and stay in your delight about being a healer. Receive each day as an experience on a journey that is moving forward. Don’t poo-pooh and grumble because people aren’t ringing your doorbell. It takes time.
I have spoken a lot about this one. It’s about learning to honor the trickle. Learning to honor that trickle and becoming grateful for the one while you wait for the many to arrive.
Also, don’t kid yourself, you are working waaaaay more behind the scenes than you are in that one healing session you give. Right? Think about that. You need to prepare for time for the background stuff too.
Not everyone who comes through your door is meant to be your client. Some are teachers who help you shore up your policies and procedures. I am so grateful for these early people who came to help me.
Remember who you serve. You serve at the pleasure of the Universe. Do a good job every day representing your little sliver. Be a good steward.
It’s okay that you define an ideal client for yourself. Not everybody is a right fit. This is not a 24-hour buffet. This is about healing – it’s about showing up and helping people feel seen and heard and welcomed. Helping them overcome obstacles and learn to love themselves. You get to work with people you feel good about and easy with. It’s okay.
So, sweet friend, I’ve said a lot here, I know! I hope that there are some juicy nuggets you can work with, and know that I am here cheering you on! I also offer an awesome self-guided Healing Practitioner course you might want to check out 🙂
Sending the biggest hug.
You got this!