Yesterday, our private practice opened its doors to invite a handful of Neurodiverse teens into our well-known social skills group. It has been over two years since our last group was conducted largely due to the restricting impacts of the pandemic. The laughter and melting away of first group nerves warmed this tired therapist’s soul to its core. I did not realize how badly I was craving a hefty helping of normalcy.
While the rain stirs an array of different emotions for many, today it seems to carry a veil of calm. As if the dreariness outside fluffs the comfort within the therapy room. The haze highlights the warmth of the lightening. The music of the rainy downfall adds an extra touch of security.
Lately a theme of guilt has floated in between the rainstorms as clients come and go from my blue comfy couch. A slew of people-pleasers grace my office, and the narratives of self-sacrifice hold steady despite cravings of change. I can resonate with this flavor of client, as I am a recovering people-pleaser at heart. It’s funny how doing my own work aids in my abilities as a therapist. I have been dutifully challenging my narrative of toxic selflessness to rescue myself from the depths of soulful burnout. While bending over backwards for the sake of others’ wellbeing brings a level of fulfillment, my soul screeches otherwise.
A handful of weeks ago, I despised being a therapist.
The ‘Sunday scaries’ were ferocious as they rocked my nerves.
The restlessness I experienced in session proved to be unnervingly distracting.
The best thing that I’ve done for myself in quite a while was to recognize and validate my chosen limits. Not the limits that I previously lived my life by. Not the ones that defined survival while teetering on the edge of crumpling under the burdens. The ones that I chose after attending to my mentality’s longevity.
If we pay attention to the whispers of our soul, we won’t have to listen to its screams.
Boy, was mine loud. The howls are still ringing in my ears, as I rise from the shambles of unhealthy boundaries.
I had to dig deep to set unwavering boundaries around my work hours. I had to release the guilt of going home at 6pm vs flexing to the requests for later hours. Forgiving ourselves for our humanness many be one of the trickiest tasks in the handbook of human functioning. I had to genuinely grant myself grace for setting my schedule to a maximum of five clients a day. Every day I challenge myself to respond verses react to other’s requests of my heart. Whenever a sentence is poised with the beginnings of “Can you….” I will myself to pause and truly consider if I can fulfill the request without sacrificing myself.
It's not only a shift in priorities but it’s an adjustment of lifestyle. One we have to lean into mindfully or else we are tempted to slip back into old self sabotaging mentalities.
So, if you find your ears ringing from the shrieks of protest arising from deep within your soul…
Please listen to them. Validate their experiences.
For this is the only way we get back to the whispers.