When I signed up for Compassionate Inquiry what I expected was to learn new skills for my practice from someone I deeply admire in a setting that was conducive to healing some of my own shit using his methods. I got what I came for.
He dropped several conceptual bombs that challenged my thinking and the way we’ve been dealing with mental health as system. The boundaries, whether personal or professional, we put up to protect ourselves can be the ones that are getting in the way of our helping others. It’s that simple. If we connect with our clients and to ourselves on a heart level, healing happens.
One of things that really struck a chord with me was when he said,
There is no such thing as compassion fatigue. Compassion is unlimited.
(Insert sound of pin dropping among hundreds of health care providers)
The dysfunction happens when the compassion is not reciprocated especially when we are not compassionate towards ourselves.
I watched a lot of therapists squirming in their seats at the thought of disclosing anything really personal to their clients. It’s a question of when do boundaries become barriers? Why are we so afraid to show ourselves when we need each other? We need meaningful connection to ourselves (intuition) and to others (attachment).
So what did that mean to me personally? It meant that I now fully understand why I emotionally burn out when attending workshops like this. One, I’m holding space and compassion for the individuals on stage being vulnerable with Dr. Mate but the compassion is not being reciprocated because I’m in the audience witnessing, not receiving. And two, I’m incapable in that moment to be compassionate with myself for being tired and overwhelmed because I’m judging myself for my inability to remain present.
It’s at this point I find myself wandering out the front doors of the venue. I start talking to a woman who’s in tears because she’s just realized she needs to leave her partner. She’s been ignoring her intuition all along and turning red flags green. I listen, I ask questions and I tell her that I’m struggling to remain present as well because my heart is with another mom I know who is living out every parent’s worst nightmare two blocks away at the Children’s Hospital. It’s bringing up some old shit for me when I almost lost my daughter. We look at each other, hug each other and go back inside. That five minute exchange of absolute honesty and vulnerability was what we both needed to fill our cups back up enough to return to the workshop.
This is what I love about coaching, I’m no longer afraid to show myself or admit when I’m living in my shadow because I know that my vulnerability is going to help someone else. I guess I just never fully understood why before now. It’s because I need your compassion as well as my own.
If I’m coaching you, I go into it knowing that I am not the expert on you. If I’ve put myself above you or if I’ve created some sort of boundary between us for whatever reason, I’ve effectively disconnected my heart from yours. There’s a quote on my home page, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety…it’s connection”. I’ve known this to be true for a long time and for me, this workshop shed even more light on why it’s true.
**For those of you who asked me whether or not you should go to this in Victoria in May. It was powerful, exhausting and incredibly affirming me. His motivation behind teaching is based on the realization that he is only one guy. He can’t do all the work that needs to be done and so he’s providing training of his methods to other healers.
This been a lot of griping on line about the cost. This workshop is not meant for the general public, this is not something to attend just because you’re a fan of his work or because you have an issue you want him to help you with. This is a credentialed course for training purposes and is priced accordingly. That being said, if you’re not in the mental health field and you can afford to go, you’ll get a ton out of it.