In this Post: With so many massage therapists referring to themselves as “healers” it can seem that humility is a thing of the past. Here we talk about how to maintain humility as massage therapists.
Have you ever notice how many massage therapists refer to themselves as healers? Owning this title with pride, they claim to be able to fix all that ails. There is a term going around called “Healer Syndrome,” that aptly describes this type of a practitioner. A hugely inflated ego characterizes this syndrome. There is a belief amongst these practitioners that the work they perform has the power to treat anyone regardless of their history, condition, or any other healthcare factors. This mindset is synonymous with a lack of humility.
Humility is such an important piece of the work we do!
Humility allows us to continue to learn, to admit when we have made mistakes, and to build trust with our clients. In our culture, there is so much value placed on accomplishing greater and greater things. With this emphasis, it can be easy to disregard the important virtue of humility. But don’t!
I am a firm believer that we as massage therapists are NOT healers! Instead, we help facilitate healing in the body. Healing is a joint effort. Without our client’s full participation our efforts would be in vain. If we fail to see the value our clients bring to this exchange, we could end up doing more harm than good. Let us strive to do no harm!
Now you may argue that all of these minute differences are just an exercise in semantics. But I believe words have power, that the manner in which we use our words have profound impacts. Their ripple effect may manifest in ways we can only begin to imagine. Calling ourselves healers diminishes the strength and power our clients play in their healing journey. We can say healing words, think healing thoughts, and perform healing techniques. But please let’s not call ourselves healers.
Keep The Ego In Check
It is fairly easy to get an inflated ego as a massage therapist. People are constantly telling us how great we are, how much we have helped them get out of pain, and other such niceties. With so much constant praise it can be hard not to let our heads completely balloon up!
Not only that but in order for us to make a living, we must be able to promote and sell our abilities. We must be able to convince people that if they come to see us, we can help relieve x, y, and z. When we spend so much time convincing others we can alleviate their symptoms we start to believe we have the unstoppable ability to “heal” the world.
Preying On Those In Pain
While I don’t think many people get into massage because they want to make a boatload of money, I do believe that we can at times lose sight of what motivated us to began our massage journey. Our intentions to help people, get lost when we are struggling to pay the bills.
Be careful not to prey on those who suffer from chronic pain. Their hope for a future free from pain is a powerful motivator. If you were to make promises of being that magic healer, clients might fall into your spider web of ego-centered lies. Exploiting their weakness is low, even when the bills are piling up!
“Nothing is easier to sell to people in pain than hope – they are one of the most motivated groups of potential customers imaginable.” Paul Ingraham
Sometimes There Is No Solution
Some pain just has NO solution. As much as we want to help our clients feel better in their bodies, to make unreasonable claims in unethical. Chronic health conditions are a burden some must shoulder. The best we as therapists can do is help our clients relax for the hour they come to see us. We can provide a safe space for them to release emotions around their condition, feel heard, and relax. To claim to have the magic answer would be untrue and unfair.
And maybe that is enough. Perhaps these clients are so tired of all the claims for relief, alternative treatments tried and failed, and dollars spent. Maybe they just want an hour to unwind, without being sold a series of promises.
I’d like to challenge you to check your ego and motivation from time to time. Make sure that you are operating from a peaceful, loving heart with good intentions, not self-serving ones. Make sure that you believe there is always more to learn.
How To Maintain Humility As Massage Therapists
Constant vigilance and self-reflection are crucial to maintaining humility. Without taking the time to think about how we are presenting ourselves and the effects this may be having on our world around us, our ballooned ego could be pumped so high that we could float right across the Atlantic. Don’t let yourself drift across the Atlantic, instead follow these steps to make sure you are firmly grounded in reality. You may also like my post on grounding.
- Identify a question you would like to reflect on. Don’t answer the questions right away, instead get really clear about what it is you want answered. Remember to start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many items in the beginning. This will derail your progress.
- Schedule an appointment with yourself. Then just like you would keep an appointment with your client, make sure to treat the appointment with yourself with the same level of respect. Put it in your planner. Set a reminder on your phone. Whatever it takes to make sure you are following through with making this a priority.
- Figure out a method that works best for you. Do you reflect best when you journal, or when you chat with a friend, maybe talking aloud to yourself is your cup of tea? Experiment with these methods until you find the one that resonates the most with you and your particular communication style.
- Ask for help. It can be hard implementing new routines into our lives. And sometimes we have a hard time being objective when it comes to our own faults. Find someone who can be honest with you. Someone who can point out your flaws as well as your strengths. Someone who can help you stay accountable to the process.
- Take Action. All that self-reflecting is only useful if we implement what we have discovered. Sometimes our actions might be small nuances, while other times huge leaps, either way, remember to take this critical step.
- Repeat often. This is the part where vigilance plays an important role. If we self-reflect once every two years we aren’t going to have the same benefits as if we schedule weekly meetings with ourselves. My office manager and I meet every Monday to reflect and discuss our goals, accomplishments, and problems. We focus on the good, the bad, and the ugly!
I am here now reminding you that humility is a beautiful thing! Humility allows us to grow from our mistakes. It makes us approachable and endears us to clients. Don’t label yourself a “healer,” instead embrace that healing is a journey and we as massage therapists are entering only one stage of that process. If you empower your clients to adopt this journey as their own, you wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not your schedule is filled. The genuine care you exude will fill your schedule much more effectively than false promises.