I am thankful that I have a busy life and a busy spiritual practice. But as I have gotten steadily busier, things like wait for appointment times have gotten longer (which I am in process of rectifying).
I have also continually looked at my boundaries in this process. Boundaries for any spiritual worker (really for any human) is essential. In my line of work you interface with a lot of different types of people. Most of the people who I am lucky enough to call students or clients (or simply people to email me to say “hiya” or “thanks for the blog post!”) are incredibly respectful, lovely, people who are willing to look at their own depths in a way that is beautiful, and I regularly express gratitude for all of you.
People who are healthy have good boundaries. The word “health” can be somewhat obscure in a way, but having healthy boundaries generally means that you are able to consider what you want, what you are willing to offer of yourself (without depleting your own resources), and have the capacity to say “no” or to have strong boundaries (stay with what you want and need to not deplete your own energy reserves; or simply not offer more of yourself than someone is willing to give in return) if anything is outside of what you have established as your personal boundaries.
Boundaries need to be considered. And regularly. If we actively consider our boundaries, what we are willing to accept from the world and the people in it, and what we are not willing to accept from the world, and the people in it, our boundaries will be stronger.
Our boundaries should be recalibrated with our growth and current lives. This means that my boundaries have changed, and grown stronger each time I consider them, and that aspects of them may change due to how my life is unfolding.
If we are mentally, emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually off balance (especially significantly), or if we are in crisis mode, it is rare that we consider our own boundaries, let alone the boundaries of others who we may come into contact with. We also may not have ever had healthy boundaries modeled to us, or have been taught that we should get out of the world (and the people in it) what we can… or that we need to take care of everyone in the world except ourselves.
Most spiritual workers (and really any healing profession) really have to consider their boundaries. Most spiritual workers are incredibly compassionate, passionate people. They are following a calling to help others. In many cases they have given up their lives, or segments of their lives, in order to follow a spiritual calling and to take a job that would be considered “non-traditional” at best.
I recently had someone say to me about spiritual workers: “how could anyone get tired of helping people find their truth and their light?” This was from someone who obviously does not do spiritual work for a living (it is much easier to romanticize things that way). Because the truth is that people who are willing to find their truth and light, people who are willing to take personal responsibility for themselves and their own healing path… you never get tired of that (and it is always lovely to witness).
99 percent of my healing sessions are wonderful. But that is only a small portion of my day.
I remember in Acupuncture school someone asked a teacher what one thing was that he thought that graduating interns should know about being an Acupuncturist. His response was that being an Acupuncturist is a customer service position, and that people rarely realize that until they actually are working as one.
Since I do my best to bring my “truth” here, I will say the following. It is fairly rare for someone to be a full-time spiritual worker. This is not an “oh, I am so special” sort of thing. It is more about me sharing that because people who do work for their friends and neighbors, or just for themselves, or just interact with a few people a week have a very different experience of being a “spiritual worker” than I do (my experiences do line up with other full-time spiritual workers when I have chatted with them, though).
The reality is that a lot of people are amazing. They really are. They have found spiritual work because they were ready for it. They are willing to plumb their own depths, to consider things with that same depth, and to really make big steps forward in their lives. They are willing to look at things from a different perspective, and in general are respectful, curious, and lovely individuals.
But a lot of full-time spiritual work is not actually working on those people, or working on people at all.
A lot of my day is spent answering emails. Not exactly sexy, I know (I realize that this may be shooting down any romanticized images of the “shaman” or “spiritual worker”). I am going to get an assistant for this, I think, but right now I answer every email myself.
So I have to consider boundaries quite a bit with email as I receive so much of it.
A small portion of my email is people looking for free stuff, and even with attempts at emotional manipulation and so forth, those looking for or expecting “free” from someone they have never met is expected in pretty much in every artistic, creative, or spiritual field.
A slightly larger portion is from people who are significantly mentally imbalanced. Especially because I am a distance worker there isn’t much that I can do for this population. I have a lot of compassion for the suffering and difficulty that mental and significant emotional imbalances bring, but distance work isn’t appropriate for them.
A fair number of people have not interfaced with this population, so I will say that I do not mean people struggling with depression, anxiety, or even other labels here specifically. However, people need some sort of basis in this reality, their emails need to make sense or have some sort of logical structure to them (people who are significantly mentally imbalanced have a specific way of writing that is often quite noticeable), and for spiritual work to be effective, they need to have a few internal resources as well as the ability to change for there to make good progress in a session. Otherwise what happens is that the situation will not change, the person will have wasted money (that they may not have to start with), and then they will blame the spiritual worker for that happening.
I do my best to screen for this (which is why I do a basic divination for my Spiritual Healing sessions as well as my mentorship), but people who struggle with mental imbalances can be fine one day, or for a few weeks or months, and then have difficulty. Spiritual work can also create a “threat” for some people, as they will sense on some level that things are going to change, or about to change, and then they might feel that as being threatened, and will often transfer that energy onto the person who they perceive is causing that change (making them the “threat” or the “bad guy”)
This results in things like a person emailing me saying they are suicidal and then blaming me because I suggest they find someone local, and quickly, to ensure their basic safety. Or people who are not ready (or able) to change because it would destroy the illusions holding themselves together.
I get a fair number of emails from people who believe they are “the one” (or want me to be “the one” Matrix-style), or who really need to feel like they are a shaman, psychic, etc in order to feel special. They hold onto this illusion because otherwise they would have to look inwardly, and consider that even if they are (insert label here) that they still have to do inner work. There is a reason that people feel this need, and it often points to really specific imbalances that they do not wish to, or are not ready, to consider.
I also receive a fair number of people who are looking for me to solve a lifetime (or many lifetimes) of issues in one appointment. This most often simply requires a bit of education, as it happens in other healing professions as well (it happened to me quite a bit as an Acupuncturist/CranioSacral therapist).
Again, lots of compassion for these people. But it is a reality that every spiritual worker must deal with that people who are mentally or emotionally imbalanced may be incredibly ready and willing to look within, they may be ready to change and shift and release what is not serving them. Or they may have deep, subconscious forces that perceive any sort of change as a threat, and become angry, violent, aggressive, and just basically chaotic and dramatic, often sending this energy to the spiritual worker because they are unable to take any sort of personal responsibility for themselves.
I also receive about thirty (this number is probably right, actually) emails a week from people who send me what would likely be around a five page word document. About their lives, their struggles, and so forth. This may take me twenty minutes to read, ten-twenty if I were to properly reflect on everything, and another twenty minutes to respond to.
That is thirty hours a week if I were to answer just these emails (and I receive a lot more than this, this is just a subsection) with the attention and focus they deserve.
The internet is a strange place. In an odd way it allows for us to remove our filters, our masks. (It also allows for us to put on completely different masks, but that is another story). We are inundated with message boards, facebook groups, and so forth where people can ask questions to people from the far reaches of the earth and receive answers. What has happened is that people don’t realize that the advice and guidance there is free for a reason.
Anyone ethical spiritual practitioner does not respond to ANYTHING without looking at it fully. Every situation is unique, every person is unique, every story is unique.
I do very much understand and appreciate that people feel comfortable to share with me, and I have a lot of compassion for what people have been through (and a lot of us have been through a lot!) but it is rare when we are struggling to consider that what we write in an email, and expect to gain from a busy spiritual worker, for free, may be not the right approach (or that thirty other people or so all are doing the same thing weekly).
I invariably either ask people to shorten things into a paragraph or two or let them know about my readings.
I do realize that I have had people get upset at me. I have had people actively upset with me (sending me back emails), or more passively upset with me (sending me nasty arrows– thoughts with emotions tied to them), because I either tell them that my services are not right for them (and often will let them know a practitioner that would be of more help to them), or because I do not have an hour to spend reading through and responding to their email.
I do tend to be a bit of a blunt person, and I do not let people walk over me. If someone is being rude or inappropriate I will tell them (I will do so as nicely as I can, though). I truly want the best for people, I really do. I consider it as part of my ethical pledge to tell people when I cannot be of service to them. If I think that someone else can be of service to you in a way that is better than what my services can provide for you, if you need a different type of care, or if I think you will be wasting your money with me, I will let you know.
But I also have a practice, and a life to have. I have strong boundaries. This work requires it, otherwise what happens is that you go into burnout mode (which happens with healers, therapists, and other professionals quite a bit, due to secondary PTSD and boundaries). So please understand that I care, I care deeply for each person that contacts me (even those who are angry and sending me those arrows), and I want every person in this world to feel more whole.
But boundaries means that I treat you the same way that I treat anyone else, and while some of my boundaries have a bit of wiggle room for people that I know well, all of my clients are treated exactly the same, with the same care… and the same boundaries.