Massage & Bodywork


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remember experiences all day long, so it's easy to deduce that our bodies respond to those memories all day long—often without even being noticed. So, when we touch our clients, we interface with all these physiologic responses. Even if our connection to emotional awareness lies only in our hands- on work, we already provide a powerful tool for potential change. Even silent acknowledgment through your quality of touch—saying in your mind, "I recognize there is a response happening here"—carries weight. But it doesn't stop there. CLIENT INTERACTIONS AND OBSTACLES Let's say you have a client who regularly comes in with a poor attitude. Do you pick that up, or do you influence change through your own attitude and state of presence? Let's say you have a client who is continually late for appointments. Do you resent them, or do you self-manage by creating healthy boundaries (through the enforcement of your practice's policies) and allowing the client to choose to show up on time or show up late and receive a shorter session? The latter need not affect you emotionally. It's neutral and accepting. Let's say your practice isn't growing and you are struggling financially. Do you complain no one values your work or their health enough to return? Or do you take action toward finding the root cause of the challenge and take an honest look at what you can do differently (such as educating yourself on proven marketing approaches)? A practitioner with emotional intelligence skills can remain calm, composed, and rational even while dealing with a difficult client or angry colleague, or when facing an obstacle. They can find a positive approach. They also recognize struggle in others and offer patience, compassion, and modeling of healthy boundaries and self-care strategies. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE STRATEGIES It's one thing to identify the ideal skills to acquire. It's another to use real strategies to develop these skills. An internet search of "emotional intelligence strategies" yields a plethora of recommendations. I'll provide one simple strategy that can be used right away. The STOPP Technique The STOPP Technique is a simple mindfulness practice developed by scientist, writer, and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. It can be used in any situation in which you feel triggered or in need of coming into the present moment or want to become aware of yourself and those around you. S—Stop what you are doing. Become still. If needed, find a quiet place to yourself. T—Take a deep breath (or three) or direct all your focus on noticing the breath going in and out of your nose. You can also sigh on the exhale to keep the energy of the emotion moving. Some describe emotion as "energy in motion." O—Observe. Ask yourself: • What thoughts am I thinking right now? • What am I reacting to? • What sensations do I feel in my body? P—Pull back. Put the situation in perspective. Ask yourself: • What is the bigger picture and how might I see it differently? (Perhaps through someone else's eyes—question what might be behind another's emotional response.) • Is this thought a fact or my opinion? • How important will this be in six months? • Is my response adding value to the situation or making it harder? P—Proceed. Stay the course, or practice a different way. Ask yourself: • What action would be best for me, for others, and for the current situation? • What action will I feel proud of tomorrow? EVERYDAY EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE When emotional intelligence skills are applied, you become far more aware of what is happening within and around you and can make conscious decisions on how to move forward. When it comes to professional interactions, practicing and applying these concepts fosters great communication skills, which supports your professional relationships, your quality of touch, and your career performance and success. Keep in mind, shifting the way you talk to yourself (especially in challenging situations) precedes successful communication with others. Eventually, you model for others what authentic relationship and peaceful existence look like. All of this spawns multidimensional healing. Since 2000, Cindy Williams, LMT, has been actively involved in the massage profession as a practitioner, school administrator, instructor, curriculum developer, and mentor. She maintains a private practice as a massage and yoga instructor. Contact her at L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 91 TAKEAWAY: Shifting the way you talk to yourself (especially in challenging situations) precedes successful communication with others.

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