I have had the good fortune to study with Sharon Weizenbaum. She has influenced my thinking and clinical approach to treating in such a positive way that I have enrolled my six Acubalance associates into her Two Year Graduate Mentorship Program.
During a 2014 weekend workshop That I organized with Sharon, she shared with me how so many TCM practitioners experience a large degree of suffering with their practices, and in some cases, to the point that they want to give up their Chinese medicine practice completely. Some of the suffering her students confided in her involve thoughts such as:
… I am in over my head.
… I don’t know what I’m doing.
… I feel like a fraud.
… I might harm someone with these herbs.
… I don’t deserve to be charging for my services.
… I should to studying harder
… among many other thoughts of self-doubt
I call this negative space as being in a rut or falling into the GAP.
These ruts give rise to intense negative feelings of being overwhelmed, guilty, ashamed, isolated, anxious, panicked and, consequently, disconnected from having a warm connection with patients. These negative thoughts and feelings make it difficult to stay connected, to have focused study, to be engaged, to treat confidently and most of all, to be happy.
Sharon taught a class at the 2016 Integrative Fertility Symposium (IFS) called Bringing Joy to Practice! Unfortunately, we did not record it because of its experiential nature. However, Sharon does teach her Joy to Practice concepts in her Two year Graduate Mentorship Program (GMP) which begins in September. (Those of you who have taken any of her Pro D Seminars online courses can receive a special discount of 25% of the value you paid Pro D to go toward her 2 year GMP.)
I too fall into these ruts (AKA the GAP). Fortunately, I practice daily a few simple techniques that prevent me from regularly falling into such negative ruts. I want to manage your expectations and let you know you will never be immune to these ruts where you feel frustrated, have self-doubt and lose your confidence. But it is possible to avoid falling into these ruts as often and more importantly to get out of the rut quickly.
I really like Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach’s description of the Rut which he calls the GAP and which I share in my book Missing the Point: Why Acupuncturists Fail and What They Need to Know to Succeed Missing the Point: Why Acupuncturists Fail and What the Need to Know to Succeed
Strategic coach Dan Sullivan has written Learning How to Avoid the Gap, which uses the following analogy: Imagine you’re sailing across the ocean. Ahead in the distance you see a horizon—which is just an illusion where it appears that the sky meets the ocean. The horizon signifies our long-term goal(s). For patients, it signifies the magical end to their problems: no back pain, no headaches, normal blood pressure, an end to sleepless nights, a baby, whatever it may be. For us as TCM practitioners, it might be a full practice, satisfied patients, or an abundance of income that affords us the luxury and comfort of freedom to do whatever we want, or the ability to take well-deserved holidays or pay for our kids’ college education.
But as you’re sailing across the ocean, the horizon never seems to get closer. Every morning as you return on deck from your sleeping quarters and look out at the horizon, it will appear every bit as far away as it did the day before. If you focus only on the horizon and do not regularly check behind you to see how far you have traveled from land, then it’s easy to get depressed and frustrated and to lose your confidence because it appears you are not making any progress. But that’s because you are only focusing on the horizon, what you have yet to achieve.
This is The GAP.
It is very important to set goals if you want to be successful, but you also need to regularly stop to measure your progress and appreciate your milestones along the way. Just like the horizon, your goals can keep eluding you as you change them or you choose bigger goals. It is human nature to constantly strive to be better. Just like the horizon, we can never truly reach our full potential, so it is important to avoid the gap by regularly looking back and acknowledging how far you have come since you started.
What I do to stay out of the GAP
I have found three approaches that prevent me from regularly falling into THE GAP and that also allows me to come out of it quickly too. I still fall into a GAP but I can come out it within minutes or a few hours instead of remaining in it for several months or years. The three activities I apply are mindfulness, practicing gratitude and investing in myself through weekly study.
Practicing gratitude is about measuring the progress you have made from where you were yesterday or a few months ago to where you are today. You are experiencing a RUT because you are comparing yourself today to where you want to be (the horizon) instead of where you have come from. I practice gratitude daily.
The second approach is mindfulness. I give myself permission to be in the moment and enjoy the activity I am doing. Everything slows down as if there is no future or goal. I experience pleasure out of just doing the activity without any attachment to the outcome. I have not mastered this skill but the few seconds I am able to be just in the moment brings me pleasure from just doing the activity for the joy of doing it and takes me out of the Rut/GAP.
Thirdly, I continually invest in myself through weekly study. The more I deepen my knowledge in both TCM and business skills the more I strengthen my confidence. Patients are attracted to a confident (not to be confused with arrogant) practitioners. And life is more enjoyable when you confident. I have experienced on many occasions when I felt like a fraud, had self-doubt and did not feel like deserved to practice. I choose to protect my confidence and bring Joy back into my practice through daily gratitude, mindfulness and study.
1. Sharon’s Syllabus for her Two Year Graduate Mentorship Program
2. Missing the Point: Why Acupuncturists Fail and What They Need to Know to Succeed
3. Online courses produced or presented by Sharon Weizenbaum approved for CEU/PDA/CPD
4. Integrative Fertility Symposium
5. Sharon’s Two Year Graduate Mentorship Program
Pro D Seminars Sale
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20% off online CEU/PDA/CPD courses
Online courses presented & produced by Sharon Weizenbaum
Valid until Friday August 5th
Cannot be applied retroactively
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The Pro D Seminars online courses on sale also can receive a special discount equal to 25% of the amount you paid Pro D toward her 2 year GMP.