A fellow gentle massage therapist recently reached out to me to voice her struggle around feeling misunderstood at her work place, and asked how I might advise navigating this, as well as figuring out a way to do more of the gentle, powerful work she loves. Having worked with clients professionally for five years now, here’s what I had to say:
“I can relate to the struggle of feeling like your work is misunderstood, or questioned, or “not mainstream” enough, and wondering how you’re going to “make it” doing the type of work you feel called to do. Inspired to do. I can also relate to those burn out feelings. You’re not alone : )
There’s a whole, whole lot I could say in response to the questions you asked, but here are three things that come to mind:
1) The more you unapologetically lead with your gentle gifts, the more you will attract clients who are open to receiving — even yearning to receive — them. Even at your massage office. I know how frustrating it can be to be matched with a client who wants really deep, aggressive work, but even those clients can serve as an opportunity to practice honoring your talents/physical comfort, and educating your clients.
I used to sometimes tell first-time clients the modalities I used, and that my work is gentler than most, but that I want them to ultimately feel “met” and receive the session they want, so they should feel free to tell me if they’re needing more pressure at any time. And I would check in with them to see how things were feeling to them towards the start of the session. Many were surprised that they were quite happy with the gentler work I was doing even if they thought they needed more pressure initially.
2) As soon as you can, start seeing clients on your own time. Even if it’s one client or friend a week, or even a month! However you can start is perfect, but start. You will have so much more freedom to explore yourself and get feedback from people who are interested in what YOU have to offer, and then you can build on that. You might also start a facebook page or a blog/newsletter where you get to think and talk more about the type of work or ideas you love. You can check out my facebook page
or sign-up for my Gentle Nudges newsletter (see the sign-up box below!) if you’d like, to see what that looks like for me.
3) I understand how it feels to feel frustrated with those harsher modalities, and all the people who want them! How dare they! ; ) I would invite you to practice, as much as you can, letting people do their thing, understand that’s where they are, and maybe that’s really what they need at this time, and turn your focus on developing your gifts and offerings and on the clients who DO appreciate what you have to offer! I have to imagine you’ve received some positive feedback from a client or fellow student at some point, yes? How did that feel? What did that feedback teach you about yourself and the qualities of the people you want to work with?
Of course, take what resonates and leave the rest! I don’t know much about all the ins and outs of who you are and your current situation, but I hope something in here helps.”
Does something in here resonate for you? Tell me in the comments below! How do you navigate being a gentle, sensitive massage therapist and bodyworker? What’s worked well? What questions do you have?
It can be easy, especially in the beginning, to feel pretty alone doing this type of work. If you know a fellow gentle bodyworker, forward this article to them so they know they’re in good company : )