Archive for the ‘massage’ Category
About a year ago I got an email from a client. He’d only been for one treatment for a calf injury and he wrote to tell me that the soft tissue work I’d done had made no difference to him and he wouldn’t be coming back.
I’ll be honest with you. It pissed me off. It pissed me off because I’m not a miracle worker. I cannot heal you in a 40 minute session (oh if only it were so easy) and you have to meet me half way and take ownership of your own healing journey too. I can only do so much.
And it dented my ego. Someone I didn’t really know had the audacity to imply I wasn’t good at my job. Of course I’m good at my job, I have a gajillion qualifications and happy, healthy clients to prove it.
So why was it, if I know I’m good at what I do and I have countless awesome testimonials from the people I’ve worked with over the years, that I was letting this one person get to me?
The ego is a fragile thing. It can grow and shrink at the slightest provocation. When I was a newly qualified yoga teacher I thought I knew everything. I would take every opportunity to lord my newly inflated ego over anybody I thought was living a “bad and unyogic life”. It didn’t last long. I soon got that beaten out of me and I think it’s a phase we all have to go through on our journeys, especially when we are retraining and changing. I think we’ve all probably been there.
But then you get your first criticism. It might not even be as overt as an email telling you that your work hadn’t helped. It might just be someone missing an appointment or not turning up to class ever again. You tell yourself they’ve died tragically or moved to Outer Mongolia on a secret mission but you know really deep in your heart that they hate you and never want to see you again.
I told you the ego was a fragile thing.
There’s a chance you’re not such a drama queen as me. If you’re a yoga teacher or complementary therapist there’s an equal chance that you are. It’s that sense of the dramatic that makes us so good at our jobs. But so harsh on ourselves.
After a while you realise you can no longer cope with this constant ego fluctuation and you have to find a balance. And here’s what I learned.
The world is divided into the people who are meant to be your clients and the people who aren’t. Every teacher, every therapist has had a client that hasn’t been a good fit with their mission statement or who wants results that you’re not sure you can give. But in those early days when we’re fragile and we don’t think we’ll ever get another client again we take them on anyway. This will inevitably lead to heartache. They will either never come back or be 99 times more trouble than they are worth.
Accept this. Accept that you cannot take on everyone. Somewhere there is another massage therapist who will be able to fix that guy’s calf injury.
Somewhere there is a yoga teacher who does give those students who never came back what they were looking for.
But remember, that some clients who never went back to someone else now see you regularly.
And it really is that simple.
So when the criticism comes in feel free to have a cry or a shout about it in the privacy of your own home.
When you feel better (sleep on it, everything always looks better in the morning), decide if the criticism warrants a response. Maybe you did something wrong or didn’t treat the client in the way they wanted. If this is the case then apologise. It won’t get the client back so don’t bother offering them a free treatment or session, but just apologise anyway.
Then again you probably didn’t do anything wrong. In which case do nothing. Delete the email or text. Forget the conversation and concentrate on the clients who love you. Keep a copy of their testimonials if you can for those times when the fragile ego does need a little stroke. Remember that you are doing so much good work and nobody gets it right all the time.
Ultimately some criticism is constructive and you should take it as so. We can’t know everything so it’s always good to get a second opinion. But a lot of the time criticism isn’t about you, it’s about the fragile ego of the person doling it out. To paraphrase Plato we’re all fighting hard battles, nobody has an “easy life” (whatever that means) and ultimately we have to treat every situation with kindness.
Unless you want to do nothing ever again, never express an opinion, never be anything you want to be, you will come across criticism. If it hurts, let it. Cry and shout. But only for a little while.
Then take a deep breath, put on your grown up pants and damn well get on with whatever it is you were put on this earth to do.
Edited to add (and prompted by a dear client that I haven’t seen in a while): there are also times when your clients’ lives get in the way. They get a promotion or have a baby or move a little bit too far away for it to be convenient to come anymore. They still love you, they’re just doing it from afar!
I don’t know about anywhere else in the world but here in the UK massage is seen as a luxury. A pampering to be saved for birthdays and other special occasions.
And it makes me sad.
No, it doesn’t make me sad because you should all be getting massages all the time to make us therapists rich (although y’know that might be nice too!). It makes me sad because massage is so much more than a luxury. So much more.
When I hear about runners and other athletes in training who don’t get regular massages (and guys, I’m only talking monthly here), it makes me sad because it makes me think about all the injured runners that I’m trying so hard to help get back on their running feet – sporting injuries that could perhaps have been prevented with regular massages. Because prevention is so much easier than cure. The Olympic athletes of Ancient Greece would be spinning in their graves (if they had graves rather than funeral pyres) to hear anyone was training without regular massage!
Why have we come to think of massage as a luxury? Why will we spend so much on clothes, on shoes, on wine and meals out but we won’t spend £30-£40 a month on our own health? You wouldn’t think about driving your car without making sure the oil, water and petrol were all OK, so why do not maintain our bodies in the same way?
Why has it taken so long for the medical profession to begin to understand what a lot of us have known for so long? Finally NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) studies are being undertaken to show that massage can help reduce lower back pain and that the pain stays away for up to a year after a course of treatment has taken place but why is this not more widely publicised?
Massage isn’t a quick fix. It won’t take your pain away as quickly as a Nurofen, but it will help that pain stay away without damaging your stomach lining. You may think massage is a luxury and doesn’t really do anything but tell that to the Pilates teacher who couldn’t run because her calves were so tight, to the gentleman who, after being plagued by neck pain, hasn’t suffered in six months, or to the lady who’s regular massages have helped her recover from a serious virus.
My friend, local business coach and writer Corrina Gordon-Barnes, recently used massage to help her recover from the RSI that was preventing her from doing her work properly. ”When I developed RSI, I knew I had to take better care of my body,” she said. ”It became a no-brainer to schedule myself in for weekly massages, like it was a prescription that I needed to follow if I wanted to feel better, not some optional extra”. If you want to read more about Corrina’s experience, click here.
Even if you’re not sick, or not injured, or not running miles and miles a week, regular massage can still offer you so much. Release for those stiff shoulders from sitting at your desk all day, stimulation for your lymph and circulation systems, the importance + profound power of touch.
“The athlete as much as the man or woman who sits at a desk all day
needs remedial [work] to counterbalance
the effects of his daily physical habits”
– Joseph Pilates
So, beloved readers, do yourself and your body a favour. Don’t think about massage as a luxury, think about it as something you have to do.
I have a funny feeling you won’t regret it.
How has massage and similar treatments helped you in the past?
(image source – I know, but I could not resist this picture!)
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch,
a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment,
or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
- Leo F Buscaglia
There are many, many reasons to book a massage – I am known to carry on about most of them at length. I am passionate about massage therapy in all its forms, about finding a therapist who is right for you and seeing them regularly. You might be training for a sports event, you might be pregnant, you might have aching muscles from breastfeeding or carrying your new baby in a sling. Your shoulders might be feeling the effects of being at your computer for too long, you might be wanting to kick start your immune system after a bad cold, or you might simply want to counteract the aches and pains of life in general. All of these reasons and more make people walk through a massage therapist’s door.
But one reason that is cited less regularly, because there is probably less “hard evidence” and us therapists shy away from anything that might sound a little “woo-woo” or flakey in our bid to ensure massage gains the reputation it deserves, is the importance of human touch.
I’m not talking about the healing power of touch therapy here. I am always rather wary about using the word “healing” as it strikes me as a promise that I won’t necessarily be able to keep. That said over the last few years many studies have taken place that are starting to show that touch therapies (massage, reiki, acupuncture, reflexology) can reduce pain in chronic and terminally ill individuals.
But I am talking about something much more simple, much more innate than that. The power of the touch of one living being to another.
In these days of Facebook and Twitter and email and blog comments, much of our communications happen online. We can be more open and honest with people we have never met than we can with our own families. And in some ways that is great.
But in others it is heartbreaking. Because there are thousands, maybe millions of people out there who will go days at a time without touch.
Touch does not have to be sexual or erotic. It does not have to be familial. A pat on the back, a handshake, a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a stroke of a cat, a smile from a stranger can all touch us deeply and profoundly. And massage touches us in these same ways.
Some of my clients are in pain, some have tight calves from their last half marathon, some have sore backs from being seven months pregnant, some want to chat, some fall asleep on the couch, but all of them respond to touch. Touch is our language of compassion, our way of showing compassion to the world, our way of communicating that ultimately we are all the same.
There is not one of us who has not experienced loneliness at some time and there is not one of us who will not experience it at some point in the future. It happens, however secure our relationships, however strong our circle of friends. But I believe that touch therapies such as massage go a long way to helping these dark feelings of solitude lift, to understand the compassionate energy of human (and animal) kind.
So book yourself a massage! And in the meantime, pat a horse, stroke a cat, smile at a stranger and never underestimate the power we can all have on each other’s lives.