Finding the right therapist or teacher is equally about them being able to walk alongside you, and understand what you’re going through, in as much as it is about you feeling comfortable enough to share your experiences honestly with them.
To feel comfortable around someone often requires getting to know them, at least a little more than just a name and a photo off a website. So in lieu of being able to reach out, shake your hand and introduce myself, I thought I’ll do some virtual sharing. This article below is a copy of another article I recently published on LinkedIn. You can find out more here.
Weave It In: My Experience with Non-Linear Career Choices
How many of us are still trying to figure out what we want to do when we ‘grow up’?
My career trajectory has most definitely not been linear. What I am doing now is a far cry from the ninja aspirations I had as a 6 year old. But it’s all starting to come together. I share this story because it’s relatable and I hope it will remind you that it’s never too late to start again.
It started with a business degree, a jump into wellness, and has now evolved to incorporate counselling.
Whether through business, wellness or counselling my mission continues to resonate and expand, as I have grown my experience, skills, and value.
Initially through my undergrad Business and International Studies degree, I thought I could make a difference by infiltrating big, ‘evil’ corporations and changing them from the inside or by working for non-profit organisations solving one world crisis after another. As I started to gain experience in both these realms, one thing stood out the most- people’s performance and longevity for their careers were deeply affected by the amount of burnout, stress and overwhelm they were experiencing.
This led into teaching Yoga. For one thing after having trained in Business and International studies I realised during my last year of a 5-year degree that I actually didn’t want to sit in an office and work 80 hours a week in Finance. Apart from that, over time I came to realise that the saying, ‘you can’t change the world, but you can change yourself’ is true. How can people do their best in changing the world, reach their peak performance, or simply enjoy the beauty of life if they’re too stressed out?
So I decided to flip my focus from the macro to the micro and work on helping people change themselves. “Wouldn’t it be much more effective if I can just help other people manage their stress, find enjoyment in connection with themselves and their bodies, and then maybe, just maybe, they’ll recognise that there’s a beauty to living?”, is what 25 year-old me thought at the time.
Well….yes and no. As a yoga teacher, I bear witness to the consequences of stress in my student’s lives. Stressed students would either have too little time to practice and miss class, or they would come completely burnt-out and overwhelmed. Stiff shoulders, sore lower backs, an ‘unknown’ tightness in the chest or belly, and an inability to get a good night’s sleep are the usual stress responses we work with. While popular wellness practices (yoga, massage, spa days, retreats, mindfulness, meditation) are great for managing the physical and mental ramifications of stress, they are not quite sufficient in helping us to understand why we’re triggered in a certain way. It can also be confusing sometimes trying to translate yogic philosophy into practical tools that we can use in today’s world. We’re well versed in the physical benefits of yoga and mindfulness, but there are just some things in our psyche that we’re oblivious to changing, or are too stressful and painful to deal with alone, without the gentle guidance and safe space offered through therapy.
Esther Perel does a great monthly newsletter, Letters from Esther, where she sheds light and wisdom in the way only she can. Here is a quote from this month’s newsletter which shares great insight into the state of stress today:
“The goal around stress now is twofold: regulation and maintenance. We must regulate our stress for the sake of our health (and that of our loved ones who feel its effects). But we also must maintain our stress. These are difficult times. It’s rational and justified to be stressed in response to the events of this year, and we will continue to be in situations that incite stress for the foreseeable future. Regulation of stress is about radical self-care. Maintenance of stress is about putting that stress to good use for the causes that matter most to us without burning out.”
So how do we regulate our stress while simultaneously maintaining it and putting it to good use for causes that matter, like saving sacred Aboriginal sites from fossil fuel companies? Consistent movement, meditation and self-inquiry are self-care practices that help with stress regulation. But we also need to learn how to communicate our discomfort, our fears, our hopes, our vulnerabilities and our views in a way that is healthy and productive for our causes. These are the things that we often learn through tapping into the softer, gentler and more compassionate side of ourselves that is often uncovered in counselling.
A two-day Mental Health First Aid course and a Diploma in Counselling highlighted to me just how little we’re taught to compassionately relate and listen to one another during our formative years. We’re taught to put our hands up to speak in class, and to wait our turn to speak, but we weren’t taught how to listen without agenda or how to recognise when our emotions are trying to tell us something. We were taught how to formulate arguments, discussions and debates. We were taught to develop critiquing skills, but we weren’t taught how to compromise well, how to talk about our emotional states or how to provide empathy to a friend in need. We were taught to find quick solutions to manage our stress as we spiralled out of control. And as a consequence, we’ll often feel uncomfortable or awkward with confrontation. We might get defensive (yep, guilty!), jump to conclusions or say/do something that we will come to regret for a long time.
The practical tools and models I’ve learnt from counselling have been crucial to greater personal and professional development. It’s helped me to identify my values. It has been instrumental to my development in managing my own stress, dealing with confidence and shaping a stronger growth-mindset. I bring these skills into my classes, and I see an improvement in my ability to facilitate safe, transformative moments for my clients. It’s definitely shaped self-awareness and self-reflection- skills necessary in any industry. But more importantly, it’s taught me how to be a better friend, acknowledge the layers within my humanity and be content with the illusions of control, security and freedom.
My overarching mission has always been to impact positive action towards improving environmental sustainability, creating healthier communities, enabling individuals to experience deeper relationships, whilst heightening self-development. Whether through business, wellness or counselling my mission continues to resonate. Like a compass, this core mission has since nurtured a life-long learning mindset and a commitment to becoming a masterful craftsperson with a broader-than-most skillset. I especially enjoy digging into new ideologies or modalities, finding common threads or relationships to seemingly contrasting models, and sharing these threads to make it more insightful for others.
So that’s me. I’m glad we got to connect a little, and I hope I’ll get to know a little more about you too. I would love to hear from you if you’re interested in a free consultation to see how a personalised wellness program can help you, or I’d love to see you in an online Yoga class soon. Let’s stay connected!