I’m hopping off the social media train this week because I feel compelled to talk about a pressing matter for myself and would absolutely love some feedback on this particular blog. Last week, I discussed what parts of myself am I going to sacrifice for my professional identity. As a doctoral student who is trying to make a name for herself and flesh out her vita, as well as a new group practice owner, I am finding myself questioning when is enough enough? And by that I mean when is it ok for me to say no and not feel like I’m neglecting something.
There have been a few blogs about self-care and we teach our clients about wellness and I know that ACA takes a strong stance on self-care and avoiding burnout. But is there anyone else out there like me that has difficulty saying no to the opportunities that come their way? I find myself saying yes because I’d be a fool not to take the opportunity. Not just because it will “look good on the CV” but honestly most of the time because it will be such a great experience that I would hate to miss. I’ll use an example from the recent ACA conference. I had the privilege of getting to sit in and do a little note taking for the 20/20 delegate meeting where they are working on trying to develop unified standards of practice and education so portability of licensure may eventually happen. This meant that I had to get to New Orleans a little bit earlier and instead of taking that time to enjoy the city, I needed to get into my business wear and look professional. Of course I didn’t say no to the opportunity. And I am so grateful I didn’t because I got to meet a number of individuals whom I knew their names because of their publications or offices. But at the same time, this is just one example of the many things that I have had offered to me recently that I jumped on. Writing this now I worry that this is coming off as ungrateful and I just want to say that is so not the case. Rather, it’s that I think I am overly grateful and fear that if I ever do say no, these opportunities will disappear.
And so, I find myself overwhelmed with the responsibilities of these great opportunities. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s also opportunities to be with friends and family. Going back to the self-care issue, I am a big proponent of self-care and trust me I engage in free time. I have the lunch with a friend or indulge in a little mindless television or spare a few hours for a recreational read. What I don’t do, is make time to clear the mind. I profess to being a tad ADD and so I tend to have a few things going at once. So my mind seems to never really stop. While I may be breathing and trying to relax, my mind is twirling away with my to-do list. Oddly enough I suggest meditation and journaling to my clients and yet meditation is incredibly difficult for me because I have yet to figure out how to power down the brain.
So blog readers, here are my questions: 1) How do you power down the brain and just exist? 2) Is that even really possible? 3) How do you determine your own limits? And 4) How do you say no to incredible opportunity if necessary (and how do you define necessary?) Thank you all for indulging me this little side-trip and self-reflection. It may be the first step in my overcoming the word yes.
Michelle E. Wade is a counselor and doctoral student focusing on in-home therapy and technology in counseling.