Staying on purpose in the middle of the storm

Photo by Arto Marttinen on Unsplash

​Emotions, personal growth and being a Solopreneur

​Guest post by Lucas Forstmeyer and Ruth Toledo Altschuler

As service based Solopreneurs (Therapists, Coaches, Wellness Practitioners) how do we keep up with our work, when our life goes through turmoil and we experience big emotional challenges? 

How can we stay on top of our multiple roles, from leading client sessions to taking care of our marketing and our administrative tasks, during difficult personal times? 

As Solopreneurs we always have a lot on our plates, so when tides are high and we are being pushed around a lot, it can get very tough. And as Coaches, Therapists and Practitioners, there is the increased challenge of being asked to be fully present with our clients during sessions — we do not just hold space for ourselves and our business, we also hold space for our clients!  

Sounds familiar? It did to many of us in the 
MasterHeart Authentic Business Group. The discussion was heartfelt and insightful, moving us to compile the highlights here, in the hopes that it supports you. 
This is how it all started:
“I recently had some trying things to navigate in my personal life that took a lot out of me emotionally. I am curious how those of you that do personal growth, transformation and spiritual work with your clients keep your emotions separate while navigating business? As in finding the energy to stay on task, staying inspiring and creative, sticking with a schedule when you are feeling drained? I look forward to hearing tips, techniques, etc…”  

Here are responses by experienced practitioners in our group, organized by topic:

Daily Practices

Raechelle Embrey - One thing for me that was huge was sticking with my meditation practice.... when I neglected it, I didn’t feel as clear and as focused as I would have liked. 

Angie Evans - Taking care of my physical needs is key - just like the "put your own oxygen mask on first". I have to keep my body strong, rest (fortunately sleep is my super-power!), keep my blood sugar even, and be ready to go anytime 24/7. 

Margaret Rode - I rest, rest, and rest some more. Since first taking Joyful Productivity (George Kao’s course), I have had blocks in my Google Calendar for rest and I obey them religiously when I am in a time of turmoil. That rest can be a nap if I'm not getting good sleep, but more likely it is a guided audio meditation that I plug into and go into a different space.

Simon Berkowitz - For me, voice work is key as it helps get me in my body and clear my mind / energy to be ready to work from a state of clarity. 

Mojca Henigman - Self-kindness, self-compassion and self-care is critical for me in such times. All the while being kind with myself and not expect to be 100% upbeat necessarily, but knowing that I can still serve the client powerfully…

Amanda Abreu - I use painting and art journaling to process thoughts, move stagnant energy, clear my mind, process disappointment or grief, and dump everything I need to release. I include writing in my art journaling, but I also go further and using images helps to access parts of the brain that you don’t have verbal understanding or words for. And once it’s on the pages, it lightens my load so I can move on. For me, I don’t have a lifestyle that allows for a quiet meditation practice. But I have learned that painting can produce the same brain waves as meditation, so it works for me in the same manner.

Kim Marie - For me, it's ultimately about rooting into who I am, remembering the gifts I have to offer and the resources I have available to me. It's about staying present and centered in the moment, and consciously surrendering to the chaos out of which the new is birthed. It's about transcending and including all that's going on. Nature does this pretty well, so I figure I must have it within me to do so :)

Naming & Framing

Tina Bowne Hart - Sometimes we are just going to be emotionally distracted and we need to go into what I call "the basic essential minimum mode”.

Lucas Forstmeyer - For me the essential aspect of all of this comes down to: How and from which place in me am I relating to whatever challenge is going on?
And I do think that the first step to get clear on is NAMING the challenge - as you so eloquently did in this post (referring to the question above). Once I can see how I relate to it - whether I am angry at it, sad about it, open to it... etc, it is then much clearer how to be with it. I can take care of the parts of me that are active and find a practice that suits me AND my situation. 

Simon Berkowitz - Explore how you can turn the difficult situation into something creative in and of itself. There is something about how we can learn and grow in the situation we are in, no matter how challenging, that is very freeing. 

Kim Marie - Remembering that I AM Nature. Nature is filled with death, destruction, turmoil, loss, and constant transformation. It is also filled with life, beauty, creation, gifts and peace. When I remember that I AM Nature, the challenges I'm having become more "part of life" that I know I'm capable of navigating, rather than obstacles that "get in the way." That said, Nature integrates and digests (She calls it composting) all that happens. We need to do our own composting. That requires "being with" what has happened…. What needs to be processed will continue to knock at our door until we do our own integration and digestion (composting). That means fully feeling and processing what's before us, perhaps with the support of wise counsel, remedies, practices, etc.

Support Systems
Ruth Toledo Altschuler - Solidarity from friends and loved ones. Meeting friends, receiving warmth, love and some lightness. This makes a world of difference. We do so much better when we experience this sense of solidarity. We need one another, and we need to open ourselves up to receive from those who care for us.

Jeanette Hill - Talk it out with a trusted friend or my husband. This helps a lot. Also, I see my own therapist 2x a month. I feel and process my feelings when I am not actively working with clients. I let them release, I write about what's going on in a journal if I feel like it. 

Angie Evans - I surround myself with really good people (and fur-babies). I simply don't have personal drama or energy-vampires in my life. Even my teenage daughter was never a drama queen! 

Allowing Space

Angie Evans - I'm really good at compartmentalizing things until I’m finished with work. Often the stuff I have to box up and put away until later is the stuff I see while working... Also, I have my secret keepers and energy workers: If I have a rough experience with my clients (as a witness, care providers), I have a few select people I can talk to about it, cry if I need to, or receive energy clearing help. THIS HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST FACTOR IN MY PROFESSIONAL LONGEVITY!! The average burn out rate in my field is 2 years and I am going on 20. (Angie is a doula, who has been assisting births for the last 20 years.)

Ruth Toledo Altschuler - Creating an internal space of comfort within where I allow myself to go and tend to my emotions, so these emotions can be processed. This is an enclosed space within, and what goes on there does not "spill over" to the other areas of my life. I keep my emotions there and go back there when I can, and know it is safe to do this. Also, having people I can talk to for deep professional help, people with whom I can share some of the intensities of what I am dealing with and have my own emotional stuff processed. For this, during this long trying time the exchanges I have done with colleagues (voice dialogue sessions, therapy, coaching sessions of different kinds) have been an immense blessing. I could not have done without this kind of competent support. 

Jeanette Hill - I see my challenges as ways for me to practice being more present with my emotions and keep my heart open. Also knowing I'm very human and that the more I am present with and compassionate with myself, the more it helps me in the work I do with others. In other words, I see what I am doing and learning in my personal life as very connected to my work and my business. 

Showing Up is Healing

Mojca Henigman - Showing up and being the conduit for what wants to emerge in the session to serve the client helps my energy tremendously. I find the same thing, when my spirit might feel tired, helping someone in a session actually brings me more to life. One reason is that during that time I am not thinking/overthinking about my situation, and on the other hand the act of giving, helping, and connecting to another human is restorative.

Jeanette Hill - Before I work with clients I pray and ask my guides, angels, and spirit helpers to help me help them. I ask them to help me set aside my personal concerns so that I can focus on their needs and receive guidance for them and to be present for them.

Margaret Rode - I've certainly been experiencing this this month, dealing with a family tragedy and then a personal illness. Working intimately with clients needed to be put on hold at first, because I didn't even have a framework to support them, too weak, too fragile. But when I was able to return to client work, I found it energizing in lots of ways. I could not control what was happening in MY life, but I could still step in and help someone who needed me. That formed an anchor point to which I could tie myself, to give me needed stability in an unstable time. It helps that I work with many, many compassionate humans -- in other words, my work has been shaped so we are mutually supportive, almost more friends than client/provider. So it isn't draining...but it would be if I had the wrong clients. 

Tamara Alferoff - Over the years, decades even, of working with clients in psychotherapy, in doing my own work, in demanding personal experiences, I very rarely feel drained by it. I rest when I'm tired (between clients if there's a 20 min gap). I mostly feel energised and lightened when people do de ep work with me. If they are defensive, superficial, or fearful in their work, that is more taxing. However, this year was especially demanding in that everything piled on top of the previous thing, so there were very few occasions to come up for air, and one day in July I just could barely move for 48 hours. So I didn't! I seemed to bounce back fairly easily. I think it must have to do with staying as much as possible in the PRESENT.

Ruth Toledo Altschuler - Above all, one fundamental thing has always helped me immensely, ever since I began working with clients: I show up for my clients knowing I am acting as a conduit, a processor and a vessel. I will clarify, organize, process and transmit the service and help the person’s needs. This help is delivered through my "processing system", but it does not "take" from me. In the process of helping others, I see myself as always being helped at the same time. It can happen (quite often) that I feel better after working with a client, than I may have felt before, because I also greatly benefit from being the transmitter of these energies of clarity, healing and wisdom. So the more you can set up an "energy architecture" that works in this way, the better it will be for you when things are challenging on your personal life, and for you in general, on the long run!

At George Kao’s request, this post was compiled by Lucas Forstmeyer and Ruth Toledo Altschuler 

Lucas Forstmeyer offers online courses and sessions in the area where Therapy and Spirituality meet. His work focuses on the integration of Essential states of Being and Presence into daily life, relationships and work. His approach called “The Unfolding Self” combines modern parts work (IFS), bodywork (Holistic Bodywork) and spiritual inquiries (Enlightenment Intensives) into a coherent approach. 

Ruth Toledo Altschuler is a Certified Practitioner by the Flower Essence Society with 30 years of experience, as well as an Educator and Mentor in the field. She is a Voice Dialogue Facilitator and a True Purpose Coach. After decades helping establish Flower Essence Therapy as a respected modality in Brazil, Ruth now works based in the USA, offering online Consultations, Courses and Mentoring.

All of the above contributors are part of the MasterHeart Business Group.