How to Have Healthy Client Boundaries as a HealerDec 12, 2023
Since childhood, I have always adored being a leader and taking the stage. One of the first leadership positions I had in the wellness + spirituality world was leading yoga teacher trainings. I remember this experience really changed my perspective 🙃 on what a leader really was.
One training day, I was sitting in the room with my mentor and a student popped their hand up to ask a question about a yoga posture. I felt a rush of exhilaration 🤩 once the student asked the question, because I knew the answer. I took a deep breath, realizing I wasn't the leader here and let my teacher take the trophy 🏆. However, she didn't answer her question, she just asked her another one. Initially I thought, "omg what is she doing?! Does she not know the answer? 😮 The student is going to think she doesn't know anything!" My teacher sat there calmly and skillfully guided her to more questions. Eventually, I caught on that she was trying to prompt her to the answer. However, the student squirmed like a worm dying in pain 😩 answering each one. I was so uncomfortable feeling this student's pain and wanted to save the student by relieving her with the answer already. This was tortuous! What was the point of this?!
Alas, my teacher tried one final technique. She guided the student back into her body and asked her to try the posture herself. The student was left with no choice but to turn inward for the answer. I could feel the self doubt in her pushing up to the surface, gasping for air. Then- without anymore air to breath, the self doubt dissolved and confidence and empowerment poured over the student's eyes 🤩 as she exclaimed the answer 🙋🏼♀️.
That was a huge learning moment for me for multiple reasons. The obvious one I realized is that being a leader, doesn't mean that people come to you expecting the answers (although they may think they are). A student really comes to you to find the power within themselves, so they have the resilience to overcome their current challenge and the many more to come 💪🏻.
A true leader holds the confidence of the truth and doesn't need validation from anyone else saying so. This is the embodiment of leadership, which then inspires their students to step into that vibration of confidence for themselves. You will see this often played out by the teacher asking questions or directing them back to their bodies. All examples of teaching them how to source their power from within.
It would take me years later to realize the second pattern I learned, which was my attachment to my student's emotions and my inclination to take responsibility for them. At that time in my life, I thought success as a leader meant my student's having joyful breakthroughs, tons of belly laughs 🤣 and drowning with tears of excitement 😭. If my student doubted themselves, feared their next steps or was being critical of themselves, it was my responsibility to shift them towards confidence, trust and love! While a leader can certainly inspire the student to transform into these qualities, it has been vital for me to realize, the student needs to feel their pain and obstacles for true transformation 😏. We see this in nature time and time again with the butterfly breaking 🦋 from the cocoon or the lotus flower 🧘🏼♀️ blooming from the mud. A real transformation needs to hold both the pain and the joy, and I am in no position to rob the student of real joy for a barbie version 👩🏼 of one.
In the process of detaching from my student's emotions, I also had to realize that I am not responsible if they transform or not. Ooof this one took me a while to get 😞. Then what the f are they paying me for- you say? They are paying you to hold space for their transformation. I know that can sound super out there 💫 and insane. But truly, think back to the yoga student's transformation? What allowed her to shift? It was my teacher's aura and embodiment of the real meaning of yoga. She didn't learn yoga because she knew the proper alignment of the posture. She learned yoga because my mentor was the embodiment of the practice and held space for her to grow into her own authentic embodiment of it 🦄. This would allow her to become her own version of a yoga teacher rather than a copycat version of my mentor.
The other piece to this is knowing that you could bring every tool and technique to your student's awareness, however, if they are not ready to crack open and shift, you have no say in it. Unfortunately, I had to learn this one the hard way 😏.
This first started to become apparent when I began my own coaching programs. I would attract clients who were needy and stuck in a victim mindset 😑. They would hop on the call completely deflated and then leave the call fluttering their wings on cloud 9 🌤. At first, I thought I was the best leader ever. My clients were so grateful for my inspiration and told me how incredible they felt after our calls. However, each week it was like digging a dead body out of a grave 😵, over and over again. I was exhausted, and there was really minimal progress happening. (I often see this play out with my clients when they have clients who are constantly reaching out to them and relying on them heavily.) Not only did I feel like a failure for the lack of success in these clients, I was burnt out 💀. Little did I know, I was recreating the co-dependent behaviors I had subconsciously subscribed to in my own life with these type of clients. (Another sneaky lesson here- my clients are always mirroring what I need to heal personally and in my personal relationships 🤓.)
As someone who relates to qualities of a healer (someone who is in tune with their intuitive gifts and sensitive to energies) 💚, I knew boundaries were already considered a life long work for me. I had done extensive work of learning how to say no 🙅🏼♀️ and eliminating toxic people, habits and situations from my life. However, I wasn't able to heal this wound of burning out and having healthy personal and client relationships, until I saw the root of the belief I was holding on to, taking responsibility for my client's success.
When I thought back to my most respected mentors, I realized I never expected myself to get xyz from their programs or trainings. I knew the responsibility of bringing my own goals into fruition was solely on me. I also never expected them to dry my tears and soften my anger and frustration. So, why would I repeat this behavior with my clients?🤨
The biggest truth was accepting that if I were to do this full time (being able to hold enough clients + pay my bills), I needed my full energy ✨✨ on board. Because let me tell you, my body was saying 'hell no!' to more clients if they were presenting as this. I needed to be in my power, which meant letting go of my ego's need to make my clients comfortable in the moment, reframing what real success meant for me and my clients and fully trusting my client's free will and God's greater plan. I am not in the business of repeating co-dependent behaviors that is infesting our culture and relinquishing the power of my clients. I am fully devoted to having my clients source their power within and shine the brightest they can be 👸🏼.
While I am certain I have deeper layers to heal with this wound, I can confidently say that I no longer burnout from my client and personal relationships. In fact, I feel full of energy and incredibly grateful 👐🏼 to be working with such intelligent, gifted women. I learn so much from them and feel nourished from our work together. This also started to shift the energy in my sales calls. Because I no longer felt like I had to promise my clients a certain expectation, I didn't need them to need me or my offerings. This naturally brought in more clients and the right ones 😘 (There is a money piece behind this too, but I will save that for another blog post 🤑.)
So how do you begin to embody the aura ⚡️ and vibration of a successful and confident leader? By completely devoting yourself to nurturing, sustaining and expanding your own power. Learning where you give away your power, how you hold on to it and where you can expand it lays the foundation for how you can start living your soul's purpose.
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