The Agony of Learning

Well, about 5 weeks ago I started Student Clinic, which means for 4 hours every week I have the opportunity to practice what I have been learning for the past 8 months.  This has been a very…overwhelming, humbling, joyful, agonizing, educational, fun, scary, awesome, horrible experience.  I have found that I am MUCH more comfortable reading about providing therapy than I am actually DOING therapy.  Where the rubber meets the road is WAY outside of my comfort zone.

There is SO much to process in a 60-minute neurosomatic therapy session:  you need to be PRESENT with the patient, you need to connect with them, make them feel safe, make them feel like they are in good hands (when you really doubt that you have good hands at this stage), you need to converse with them while taking 84 measurements (some of which take a degree of palpation skill I do not yet possess), you need to register what they are saying while also figuring out, if my finger in her right earhole (aka external auditory meatus) is higher than my finger in her left earhole, does that mean her left side is higher or her right side??, and then remember that for at least 10 seconds while you mark it on the posturology chart.

Then, you survive taking all the measurements, and then the really hard part comes – analyzing what is going on in that beautiful, complicated, multidimensional, fluid/solid mass of bones, soft tissue, emotions, and thoughts.  So you look at the chart, form a semblance of a plan and get started.  Then the clinic supervisor comes over and challenges your assessment, based on his years of experience in comparison to your 6 months of experience.  So you adjust, all the while trying to maintain an air of confidence in front of your patient patient (yes, that’s intentional).

And then you look down at the body on the table and realize you forgot all the techniques you’ve been learning.  Then the real panic sets in.  You question your ability to function as a coherent human being, much less a competent neurosomatic therapist.  Your brain hurts from this strain of trying to juggle so many requirements. Your thumbs hurt because you are too focused on everything else to focus on good body mechanics. Plus your thumbs are double jointed which adds an even more interesting challenge to performing deep tissue/trigger point work.

BUT, while that whole process continues to happen with each successive Student Clinic, each time it gets slightly less awkward and slightly more fun.  Especially when the patient gets up and says,”Wow – my sinuses are so much clearer!”  “My neck feels so much better!  I have so much more range of motion!”  “My head feels lighter.”  “The pain in my chest I’ve had for 8 years is GONE!”  And you’re like, “Holy shit.  This DOES work!  I CAN help people.  I am not a failure!”  And that part is super awesome.

So, the gist of this whole long rant is that learning a new skill (manual therapy) that is worlds apart from the skills you currently posses (business analysis/project management) is PAINFUL!!  Especially if you are a perfectionist with helpful undercurrent of anxiety.  Oh man.  It is SO hard.  But no growth comes from living in your comfort zone.  And living in the comfort zone  leads to atrophy and dissatisfaction.  I would rather, when it’s all said and done, push my boundaries and experience all the emotions and trials that come along with that, than continue doing what I already know how to do and staying in that safe (but ultimately very dangerous) comfort zone.

I feel as if I should have gotten some intense psychotherapy before taking this leap.  All of the changes in my life, location, career, friends, etc. has brought to the surface so many limiting beliefs that I have unconsciously held for my 41 years of life.  These beliefs (I’m not good enough, mistakes and failure are bad, etc.) are intensifying this experience so much.  Or, is this experience bringing these beliefs into the light of awareness, so I can process them and let them go?  So I guess things are working out as the wise universe intended.  So I just need to ride that flow and trust the (painful and awesome) process.

My Struggle

In writing this blog, I continually struggle with myself regarding what to share and what not to share.  Blog-writing is all about honesty and openness; that is what attracts readers – the ability to see inside someone else.  At least, that’s what I’ve read blogs should be about.  But, ANYONE can read blogs, which necessarily induces reticence.

By the way, I HATE the word “blog.”  It’s a very unattractive, fat word.  It lacks elegance.  I spent a whole 40 minute trip to work one day trying to create a better word for this online posting stuff.  The best I could come up with was “journlectic,” as in, an eclectic journal.  Tim was not impressed, deservedly I guess.  Journlectic doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.  What else to call it?  I guess I’ll have to consider that on another trip to work.

Ah, work, that is what I am struggling writing about, to get back to my opening point.  I recently changed jobs – moved from Treasury to Accounting.  The whole job-changing (and in my case career-changing) move is fraught with all sorts of writing-inducing feelings and thoughts.  Changing jobs/changing careers is not for the faint of heart.  You feel stupid and overwhelmed pretty much constantly, and just when you feel as if you are catching on, you post a journal entry in the wrong period and your boss can’t close the books until you fix it.  Or you fumble-finger an entry and do it for an amount 10 times larger than it should be.  Ah, my employer is so lucky to have me.

I just read a post this morning on Zen Habits with the catchy title of “The Insidious Perfidiousness of Doubts.”  And, yes, I did have to look up perfidiousness.  It was nice to know that I’m not the only one who has thoughts like this (quoted from the post):

“I can’t do it. I’m not good enough. I’d never make it. I’d only fail and embarrass myself. Why should I dare dream?”

These thoughts plague me daily, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute.  Objectively, I know I’m an intelligent person.  If I ran across myself in the world, I would think to myself, “That girl is smart.  She can do whatever she wants and will be successful.  I wish I was her.”  But looking from the inside out, it’s a totally different story.  I have the above mentioned thoughts running through my head in a constant refrain and wonder if maybe I should go apply at Target for a cashier position.  I like helping people.  I could wear red every day.  I might be okay at that.

How to marry this external proof with the internal doubt, that is the real question.  Even though I’m very stressed about my current life change, I think that taking on this new challenge will be good for me in the long run.  If I am successful in this new endeavor, it will add more weight to the “external proof” bucket and weaken the internal doubt mantra.  I need to persevere and give it time.  I’ve caved in to my doubts too often, which is why I’m 30-something and still don’t have an encyclopedia page (I graduated from high school before Wikipedia existed) written about me, as my high-school classmates voted I would.  Giving in to doubt, I’ve not pursued many challenges and experiences.  The more I held myself back, the more power the internal voice got and the more I listened.

I do have to say though, that not listening to that voice is S T R E S S F U L.  I need to manage that better.  I know that the worst case scenario is not that bad and completely manageable (even if I did have to get a job at Target, we would still have enough money to eat and to make the house payment), but tell that to the feeling in the pit of my stomach when Lucent wakes me up at 4AM, and my mind starts racing about all the stuff I don’t know how to do and don’t yet understand.

I’m just trying to sort this all out and deduce if I’m making good decisions and living the life I want to live.  I haven’t been writing lately because I’ve been working so much, and writing about accounting is not that interesting.  But, I need to make my life about something besides work, so I need to write.  That’s a step in the right direction at least.