Being a therapist is not an easy profession. It requires a lot of brain and emotional energy and power. Being present with people as they share their deepest darkest secrets, work through pain and suffering, and try to get through life a little bit easier can take it's toll on one's mental and emotional health if we are not vigilant. There are lot's of self-care ways to maintain energy and not get burnt out, but for today's post I'm going to write about 10 mindset hacks that will support the prevention of burn out. Keeping these ways of thinking can support you to create a meaningful and satisfying career without dragging yourself through the mud to get through work! And no stress! It's a #workinprogress always.
You are not responsible for anyone’s healing, growth, or betterment. Your clients are responsible for how much progress they make, whether or not they make improvements, and whether or not they get better.
If you are supporting others, but unable to replenish or feel supported yourself, it’s a zero sum outcome. Think of it like a see-saw, if you see them down, and you push on the other end to get them up but then you’re down, one of you is still down! You want the balance of a scale. You’re balanced, full, replenished, well, and you help someone else become equally as balanced. Then we’re in the positives and help is actually happening!
Your energy output works the same way your bank account does. If too much energy goes out without being replenished, there will be none left! Every choice you make either puts energy into your energy account, or drains it. Be aware of what is draining, and what is filling!
The clients that will be best served by you are the ones that feel the best for you to serve. Because you feel good when you serve them. Because they bring out your strengths. Every clinician has different strengths. Imagine if every therapists focused in on their own specific strengths. People would benefit so much more! Therapists would feel amazing, and so would their clients.
The system is flawed. The system doesn’t want even you, the clinician, to slow down. The system is about numbers, quantity rather than quality. But the system won’t be disrupted until the front line workers say, THIS ISN’T working! As experts in the dysfunction and maladaptive mechanisms OF the system, we know best of anyone when something isn’t working for people’s well-being. You are allowed to prioritize your well-being even though the system is not. You are a leader and people will follow if you make hard choices in order to prioritize mental health.
Little “no” for a big “YES”. You are allowed to say NO to helping. Whether that be friends, neighbors, relatives, bosses. Every time you say “no” you are saying “YES” to something else. Likewise every time you say “yes” you are saying “no” to something else. As stated above, energy draining activities and conversations are not part of your pact as a therapist. Your therapy job is your profession, NOT your life sentence! It is not fair for people to rely on you as such outside of your professional atmosphere.
You are allowed to be human. Most of us came to this profession for a reason. Healing is not linear, and it doesn’t always happen all at once. It’s okay to regress, it’s okay to not always practice what you preach. The important part of being a therapist is not geting it “right” all the time, or being 100% healed and healthy, but it IS in being committed to the path of self-awareness and continual growth. Without self-awareness and commitment to working on yourself regardless of what comes up, your countertransference will interfere with your work. And you will be more exhausted. You will be more confused. You will feel less effective. Your own personal work is imperative.
You are worthy of feeling good. Just because you want to serve and help others does not mean you have to martyr yourself. You are allowed to feel good. You can still help others AND feel good.
Money is a source of energy. You can be a good person, do good work, AND make good money. Contrary to popular belief they are not mutually exclusive. You can also be a good person, do good work and choose other things to prioritize. The important piece, I believe, is the conscious choice that you make when it comes to what you make. Our relationship with money is a part of our life & well-being, and deserves to be looked at and investigated as much as any other area of your life. Getting clear and aligned with your finances in work and life will help you feel less depleted.
Practice believing these things. Notice what comes up when you try them on for size. You got this!