My Thai Massage teacher once advised me to take compliments to my work with as much weight as criticism. It was important, he said, in this therapeutic practice to not become attached to the notion that I was a “good” or perhaps even “the best” therapist that an individual had ever been to. Similarly, someone being displeased or never returning for more of the work with me was of no substantial consequence. Be neutral and do the work. That was the best way to show up for the client.
This is more of a burden if I want to hold myself in high regard and be recognized for my talents. It is a more useful practice if I don’t want my ego hurt by an unhappy client.
This is a lesson I have been experimenting with in my emotional life, which is quite rich, to say the least. If I am to remain unattached to an emotion (so I am not controlled by it) this goes for the “good” ones as well as the bad. I can’t pick and choose if I want to practice observation and neutrality- right?
Just to give a glimpse of my emotional life: On any given day I may be full of hope and optimism, creative, inspired and clear; standing in my power and making strides in my personal and professional growth. It is just as likely that I will feel stuck, confused, and doubtful; powerless to make a move beyond the next immediate “to-do” needed to get through the day. From my perspective, the former experience is preferred to the latter. Others I know kind of like the melancholy isolation that comes from anxiety and depression. To each their own, especially if we are not attaching to the experience- then it shouldn’t really matter. Sad or happy is, just what it is.
The first voice says “Jess, you got this! Get out there and be a star!” Should I buy into this notion?
The second voice says “Jess, don’t bother. The pleasure, if it comes at all will be fleeting. Don’t wear yourself out trying. Stop striving for what is never guaranteed.” Should I buy into this notion?
The two seem equally plausible, just as I could very well be a good Thai therapist- or not.
The contemplative point here is that reality always has a veil. We have tinted glasses and see what we choose to see. Objectivity can lead to more questions, whereas holding onto a belief system can leave you blind to alternative perspectives.
Someone struggling with self-doubt may have become attached to the lens of shame and loathing. Someone else, avoiding their feelings with an overscheduled life, may be missing opportunities for developing consciousness. The positive Polly’s of the world may lack the strength it takes to sit with pain.
There is a continuum of choice always available to us if we are able to step back, gain some perspective and selectively attach to notions that propel us in the direction of greatest self potential.