It's crazy to look back over the last decade of my career and reflect on how different life is for me. And in an extraordinary way.
Why is this a conversation worth sharing? Because it will change everything!
Like many PTs, I navigated the world of frustration and burnout in a clinical setting despite trying in so many different ways to create a healthier space for me to once again enjoy what my skills offered clients.
The problem... when you are stuck, struggling and sometimes even suffering, it is difficult to see the way out. And by out I don't necessarily mean of the job, I mean in your way of being. How you think. And how you feel.
You know.... worn out, frustrated, exhausted, can't keep up, lacking joy and fulfillment, stagnant in personal growth, low energy waking up every morning, suboptimal physical health, lack of sleep, trouble focusing, feeling resistant and so much more.
Let's parallel the issue..... we have all treated a client who has struggled with a lingering pain pattern. When it's appropriate, we use a myriad of outcome measures to determine the level of stress, anxiety, depression in one's life. We further discern the habits and beliefs that keep the client exactly where they are. In pain. And stuck, struggling and suffering.
Where does the solution exist for that client?
Our nature and training as PTs is to teach and educate them regarding the underlying causes and strategies to diminish their pain. Yet the client holds on to their daily life that has brought them to your clinic seeking help.
Here's why I bring a clinical situation to the conversation... in my practice I simply ask clients how they rate their stress and/or anxiety on a 0-10 scale. For those that answer a 5 or above (and that's easily the majority), there is a consistent finding amongst those clients who are struggling to navigate the stresses of daily life. That finding? They cannot see the possibility of a better life. They focus on the barriers, the why nots. And they see themselves as stuck with no control in life (or their pain).
Understanding this will unlock the HOW in truly serving the needs of a client in pain.
I'm writing this blog not to focus on client management but rather to address what is also happening within so many therapists. Stress, lack of control, struggle, cannot see the possibilities. And how we can get 'unstuck' from this way of being.
And it starts with how we think and feel.
I currently live in a space of creating my own life, my own reality, my own experiences. Five years ago I never saw that possibility, let alone believed it possible. Why not? I was mentally and physically exhausted after 15 years and 4 jobs trying to do the best I possibly could for others. Yet every additional effort to improve my daily relationship with my work identity only strengthened the emotion that I was feeling of being destined to burnout within this profession. I couldn't see the way out.
What I was thinking only made me feel worse. What I was feeling made me think more about the challenges we face as PTs. A career I absolutely loved yet I could no longer feel it.
When I was in that state, I had NO ability to see the possibilities that I live today. NONE.
So what flipped the switch?
Asking empowering questions.
I promised earlier that this conversation would change everything, so what I found I discovered is that when circumstances are challenging and we are seeking to overcome them, we need to go within. We need to ask ourselves empowering questions:
Note the scale and scope of these questions differ from:
Recall my findings and expereinces with clients who were enduring stress? They cannot see the possibility of a better life. They focus on the barriers, the why nots. And they see themselves as stuck with no control in life (or their pain). None of those situations are empowering! The questions we ask ourselves allow us to believe and create the life we want to live. And then trusting yourself to make it happen. You've already proven yourself to be a high achiever in navigating the competitive and challenging world of graduate school and earning professional licensure. You are capable of great things. You're destiny is in what you think and feel.
Live. Feel. Think. DIFFERENTLY.