Massage & Bodywork

January | February 2014

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ne of the greatest challenges in life—and business—is saying "no" to what we don't want, so we can say "yes" to what we do want. Setting limits affirms our values and lets us pursue them more fully. It also decreases the chance we will become burned out, overcommited, and feel resentment. But it's easier said than done. Assertiveness expert Stephanie Sterner, author of the Set Your Boundaries Your Way series, says people struggle to set and uphold boundaries for two main reasons: fear and misunderstanding. "There are all kinds of misguided beliefs that stop us from setting healthy boundaries," Sterner says. Maybe you've confronted some of these thoughts: • "Saying 'no' would make me a bad person." • "The client's needs always come first." • "It's better to keep the peace." • "It's really no big deal." • "He won't take 'no' for an answer." Of course, we've all said these things to ourselves from time to time. But Sterner says it's important to "recognize that in most situations, these are lies." Putting yourself first sometimes doesn't make you a bad person. Your needs are important, too. Keeping the peace is great, if it doesn't cost you peace of mind or self-respect. "And there are plenty of people who won't take 'no' for an answer," Sterner says. "That's OK. Your answer doesn't have to change just because someone else doesn't like it." THE IMPORTANCE OF BOUNDARIES IN BUSINESS Massage therapist and business owner Lily Starling of Downtown Davis Massage and Wellness in Davis, California, says boundary setting is the foundation that makes her business enjoyable and sustainable. "Massage has very high burnout rates, because it is so physically and energetically demanding. Setting boundaries is the only way to preserve the bottom line, financially and emotionally. It is all about saying what you are and what you aren't." Many healers are afraid to set and maintain boundaries with clients because they fear their clients will get mad and leave their practices, Starling says. This is a valid fear, but a client who would leave your practice because you set limits isn't your ideal client. "I repeatedly tell my clients and my employees that you teach people how to treat you. Massage therapists need to take a stand for their own professionalism, their integrity, and their worth and say, 'My ideal clients respect my time, my rates, and my boundaries,'" Starling says. Over the long run, clear boundaries are good for everyone. "When people enter into any therapeutic relationship, they tend to open up, let their guard down, and show vulnerability," Starling says. Boundaries help therapists establish safe and secure therapeutic relationships that nurture clients and stimulate referrals. Clients who feel well cared for will recommend you to other clients who will treat you well, Starling says. That creates a virtuous cycle. It pays to be ABMP Certified: www.abmp.com/go/certifiedcentral 75

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