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88 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k n ove m b e r/d e ce m b e r 2 0 2 3 essential skills | BACK TO BASICS Gut, Grit, and Guidelines Practical Boundary-Setting By Cindy Williams Every day offers opportunities to set and maintain boundaries, both personally and professionally. While some situations are black and white, more commonly, life's circumstances are dynamic and full of gray areas that don't have a clear path forward. It might be why many find it difficult to set boundaries and stick to them. Yet, like it or not, it's a significant and necessary duty, especially when it comes to your massage practice. Recently, I had a conversation about boundaries with a colleague who also has more than two decades of experience in the profession. The topic had been on my mind due to a current professional experience that required me to step up to a challenge, so it was as if she was reading my mind (I love it when life aligns like that!). She expressed her concern: "I wish I had been taught more practical knowledge in massage school about boundary setting. I learned about boundaries, but I didn't really learn how to manage them in real-life situations. I had to learn the hard way, and I feel compelled to help others with less experience." So, for those of you who could use some support and guidance (regardless of your level of experience in the profession, since it's an area where reminders are always beneficial), I offer you a collective take on how to determine what action to take in any given situation. GUT, GRIT, AND GUIDELINES When facing boundary-oriented decisions, there are three resources from which you can draw: gut instinct, internal grit, and industry guidelines. Gut Instinct Even though many ethical scenarios don't have a clear right or wrong path to take, I believe there's a guiding light within you that's based on the values you establish for yourself and your practice. No matter where you are in your career, it's of utmost importance to go through the process of identifying what your values are and how those will translate to your business. When you tune in to your "gut," you can access this inner knowledge and use it to determine whether a potential action is right or wrong for you and for the profession you represent. Sometimes your gut says one thing but your mind says, "Yeah, but . . ." Go with your gut. Typically, the "Yeah, but . . ." is a cognitive process of negotiating with yourself. You should never negotiate your values. One way to access this gut instinct (or inner voice of right versus wrong) is by reviewing your values regularly—perhaps post them somewhere visible to you every day—and continuously asking yourself with each decision you make, "Does this align with my values?" Another way to access your inner voice is through meditation. Find a quiet place, sit with your hips and feet firmly rooted, take 3–5 deep breaths, place your hands on your core, tune in, and ask yourself, "What action aligns with my values and the values of my profession? What action aligns with boundaries I've already set? What action demonstrates the greatest amount of respect for myself and my client?" You will receive your answer and have a deep internal feeling of "Yes, this is the way to go" without negotiation. Internal Grit Grit is having the ability to summon your courage, determination, passion, and perseverance in pursuit of your goals and commitment to your words, values, and actions, especially when faced with an obstacle. It's an inner resource that keeps you strong and consistent. GABRIEL TERRIZZI/PEXELS

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