The A#$hole Workshop

Aren’t we all such walking contradictions?

I feel so confident and carefree in my day to day life. I’m so good about self-care and refusing to do what I DON’T want to do. To the outside world, I am, I daresay, a pretty powerful force…

But put me in a situation where I have to actually confront someone, tell someone “no,” or let someone know that I can’t or won’t succumb to their requests…and I turn into a quivering mess. At least on the inside.

I HATE confrontation. HATE IT. And I hate letting people down. If I get the slightest whiff of disappointment off of someone, I wither and die inside. I can’t take knowing that I’ve hurt someone, let them down, or have some sort of conflict looming in the future. It kills me.

But.

As someone who deals with more people than you can imagine on a daily basis, it’s inevitable. If I caved to every request, if I gave my time and energy to everyone who asked of me, I wouldn’t have time to breathe or pee. (Actually, I don’t have time to do that now…)

I’m lucky in that I tend to attract truly positive, wonderful people into my business. People always think that I’m coating the truth when I tell them that I never have issues with clients being rude, taking advantage, or treating me disrespectfully. But it’s true.

However, my personal life is a different story…

As someone who is a born people-pleaser, I always find myself struggling to draw a line between being kind, generous, and likable…and having people prey on this and suck me dry. And because I am so attuned to my perception of potentially disappointing someone or hurting them, I suffer from these bloodsuckers. I can feel my life force draining away when one of these people gets ahold of me, and it sucks (literally).

Acupuncture helps. Seriously! When you start getting more in tune with your health and energy, it helps you to draw the appropriate lines. This is likely the case for all types of self-care; so much of creating change starts with awareness, and determination to preserve what you hold as invaluable: your health, energy, and happiness.

Acupuncture helps, self-care helps, but I want to take it to the next level.

So often, when I create new events, classes, add extra goodies to my treatments, it’s all coming from my own worldview: What would make ME happy? What’s the extra something that I can add in that would make me feel like I had gotten so much more value from my session? What do I need, that I have a hard time finding?

I need boundary work. I need to find a way to preserve myself while still feeling good. Because when we hold our boundaries in a way that doesn’t resonate with us, it’s even more draining.

I started thinking about how much certain people take from us…and how much we take from OURSELVES. Because yes, there are vampires out there who feed off of us, but we are often equally guilty of making ourselves feel freaking gross.

Maybe your mother/”friend”/coworker is pushing you into doing or believing something that doesn’t serve you. Or maybe it’s that inner voice doing it to you. Either way, it’s equally damaging.

It’s time to learn ways to deal with the a#%holes in your life: the inner ones, and the outer ones.

So many of you need this. We’re all going to rock this.

Keep checking back. This class will be a turning point for you in finding your voice and “no” in a way that feels authentic and safe.

It’s going to teach you how to keep yourself protected again the energy vampires.

And it’s going to teach you how to fight off your own inner a#%hole: that voice that says you can’t, you won’t, you’re not worthy enough or smart enough or pretty enough.

Imagine what your life would feel like if you had zero doubt in yourself. Imagine what it would be like if other’s opinions ever entered the equation. Imagine what it would feel like to not have that irritating a#$hole little voice whispering all the reasons why not.

I’m ready for a new level of freedom. Are you?

This is going to be SO GOOD.

It's All About Balance

This morning is rough.

Last night was DECADENT. My friends and I went to a steakhouse and consumed meat and wine, followed by martinis. Part two of our adventure was a cigar bar with hefty pours of scotch. This is something that is a VERY rare occurrence, and I feel smoky and disgusting today, but we had a fantastic time.

These friends have known me since my waitressing days, so they've seen the trajectory of my business. At one point, as we were sipping away, one friend began to talk about how cool it has been to witness the progression of Healing Point Therapeutics.

"I remember your first space, that one room, and you would go behind that divider with each patient and pretend you weren't there," he laughed. "And now you've got all these rooms, this great space. Your business really has changed."

Then he said something that really stuck with me.

"You know the best part of the way you run your business, though? THIS. Look at us. Here we are, we're out on a Sunday night, having a good time, drinking, living life. You weren't like, 'No, I can't go out, it's a Sunday, I have work tomorrow.' You still live. You built a business that allows you to live. You go out, you take vacations, you enjoy your life."

"Well, isn't that the whole point...of EVERYTHING?" I asked. "What's the point of making money and making your own schedule if you don't use what you've built to spend time with your friends, have fun, and be happy?"

"True, but not everyone can do that," he answered. "You have. It's so great."

Lately I have been thinking that my sole focus has been work, on all the creative projects I've got brewing, and I'm out of balance. And make no mistake: I LOVE it. Work energizes me. But I make my schedule, and there is no excuse not to slow down and take a breath, drive to Connecticut to visit my gorgeous little niece, or go outside and take advantage of my favorite time of year. This was a good reminder that I'm not totally screwing it up.

But I'm still a work in progress. We all are.

What can YOU do today to bring out your inner hedonistic child, and have a little fun that is free of responsibility?

Little Miracles

Little miracles happen between us every day. Did you know that?

I'm always fine.

Even when I'm not fine, I'm "fine."

Ninety percent of the time, I'm genuinely fine, without the quotation marks. But a few months ago, I was not fine.

I was going through some things. I was struggling. 

But healing is healing. And every time I became engaged in an acupuncture or hypnotherapy session and quietly told a patient to breathe, I would breathe along with them. As I did, my racing heart would calm, my racing mind would still, the jagged edges of my self-control would smooth over for a while.

I LOVE my client base, but there are a number that I have a special connection with. One night, one of these clients came in. She took one look in my eyes and knew that I was not fine.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"I'm fine," I said automatically.

"You're not fine. Go home. You need to take care of yourself. I don't need a session tonight."

"I want you to have your session," I said. "You're my last. After you, I promise I will go home and take care of myself."

"Okay," she said, "but here's how it's going to work. I want YOU to have this treatment. It's my gift to you. I want you to pretend that you are lying on the table, treating yourself, and I want you to give me every needle that you need."

She got on the table and closed her eyes, smiling. I started my work, choosing exactly what I would want for myself. As I needled, I felt my eyes fill up with emotion. With every acupuncture needle I inserted, I felt lighter, calmer, more centered. I hadn't known what I needed, or why I needed it, until this gift was presented to me.

I left the room and curled up in my cozy chair in the waiting room. My eyelids felt heavy, and a warm blanket of peace stole over me as I rested there. For the first time all day, my heart was plodding along in its normal rhythm, and my breath was deep and slow.

How lucky am I to have these amazing connections with my clients?

Positive Truths

Some of you know that I used to be an English teacher.

I hated every moment of it. My students were dreadful. They were so used to torturing their teachers that it was the norm to sit on me, lock me in closets, and walk out of class while I was lecturing.

During this time, I was subject to unexpected evaluations. Teaching advocates would show up without warning to sit in the back of the class and watch me.

It was always a nightmare.

The kids were already out of control, but they TOTALLY got off on disrupting the class when they knew we were being watched. So, every time the class was evaluated, all hell would break loose. One day, I had the kids do a five minute presentation on a significant experience in their lives. The first volunteer prompted began to go into great detail about his sexual exploits. Another day, all of the kids began to walk out, one by one, waving goodbye to me cheerfully as the advocate frantically scribbled notes in the background.

It was bad.

I had three advocates. One of them simply dismissed me, saying that I was a hopeless case and that I should never have gotten the job. The second one was a psychopath who told me stories about how she used to control her students by stalking them at their places of work and harassing them to let them know what it felt like to be disrespected.

The third one was a shining light in my hellhole of darkness.

He was in his 60's, the perfect grandfatherly figure. Soft-spoken and sweet, there was something about him that commanded respect. He ROCKED at his job. Even though I hated everything about teaching, the only times I felt good about myself were after a visit with him. He would give me careful feedback about how to promote changes in the classroom, and he never gave up on me. Each time he evaluated me I left feeling inspired, hopeful, and full of ideas about how to be better and do better. Every time I lamented how useless I was in the classroom, he'd give me a sharp rebuke and tell me that my passion and desire to really make a difference was the source of my frustration, not my lack of skill. He never failed to build me up. I like a lot of people, but it's very hard to earn my respect. I had more respect for this guy than anyone I had ever known.

I still ended up quitting teaching, but he stayed in my mind for a long time.

One day, years later, I was waiting tables on a warm spring day. I wandered outside to see if the waitress who had the outside tables was doing okay. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a familiar face. It was him.

I went back in to do sidework and contemplated approaching him. I was rather embarrassed to be seen waiting tables after my foray into teaching, since he had given me so much encouragement. After some mental back and forth, I opted to go back out there.

I went up to his table and asked, "Hi, remember me?"

He lit up. "Marisa! Long time no see! How are you?"

"I'm good," I replied. "I just felt compelled to tell you something. You've stayed in my mind for a long time. I have to say that you made the biggest difference in my life and attitude back then. Teaching wasn't for me, but you were such an inspiration to me. You are SO GOOD at your job. I have so much respect for you. You never gave up on me and that school system is so lucky to have you. You were like my hero back then. I so appreciate all that you did for me, and for the other educators in that system."

He cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Well," he said, "This is certainly odd timing. I've been having a hard time lately. Thinking that no matter what I do, it's never enough, I'm not really making a difference or doing anything significant in the schools. Feeling like nothing I do there really matters. I've been vacillating over the idea of just throwing in the towel. This is REALLY bizarre timing."

"You have no idea how many lives you've probably changed, including mine," I responded.

He reached out and grabbed my hand. "Thank you. THANK YOU. You don't have the slightest idea of what you've done for me today."

So often we hesitate to reach out, to be open, to share positive truths. You never know what effect you can have on someone when you surprise them with a positive truth.

How awesome would it be if we all reached out today, in some shape or form, to thank someone who has helped us along our journey?

Faking It

Warning: potentially triggering story ahead.

A few years ago I had a high-performing entrepreneur come to see me for hypnosis to deal with lack of confidence and a pile of random fears (most of them based on social situations).

"Well, you certainly don't come across that way," I said. "You seem very outgoing and confident."

"Yes, I know. It's all on the inside, but I hide it well."

We all need to learn to hide it well. Whether we are business owners who are defining our value, employees dealing with monstrous bosses who are constantly digging to find weakness, or navigating the world of dating...I don't believe that most people feel the way they portray themselves on the outside. I myself often hear, "Oh man, I'd NEVER mess with you," a LOT, and I find myself wondering what it is about me that comes across that way. Yes, I'm profoundly confident, but I'm also...well...kind of a wuss. I hate confrontation, I'm scared of pain, and my worst fear is saying no and being hated for it. The truth is, I'm a mix of strength and weakness, as we all are. I show my strengths on the outside, though.

Anyone can fake it. And faking it is POWERFUL. It's a tool we all need to learn to use.

Years ago, I worked as a cocktail waitress at a bar on the water. Our clientele was a mix of obscenely rich men who would pull up in their yachts and drink all day, and plastic blondes vying for the attention of the aforementioned men.

These guys were pretentious, entitled nightmares who attempted to make up for their insecurities with the size of their wallets. They'd grab us, demean us, and basically attempt to bribe us for sex. I held my own, because I can be funny and cutting, and have a way of deflecting unwanted attention without setting someone off...but the situation was wearing on me. There was one guy, Jeff, who also owned a boat but wasn't nearly of their financial caliber. He was down to earth, fun, and very protective of the waitresses. More than once, he told off men who were getting too touchy with me. He was a good guy.

Or so I thought.

On my last night working there, I was stuck there past 3am and was leaving to walk out to my car. The waitstaff parked about a quarter mile from the bar, under a bridge with no lights. It was scary as hell. It was a pitch-dark walk through those tall weeds that grow by the water, and the underpass looked like a murder scene waiting to happen. We girls always walked out together, but for some reason I was left alone that night. As I set out, Jeff saw me leaving and told me he didn't want me walking to the underpass alone, and that he'd drop me off.

Although I liked him, I got a sudden rush of fear when I thought about him driving me. I had no idea why.

"I'm fine," I babbled. "I like the night air."

"Oh man, that's crazy, I'm NOT going to let you walk alone. I'd feel horrible about myself letting a woman walk out there by herself. Hold on, I need to grab my coat."

I was physically shaking by this point, and again, had no idea why. He had always been more than awesome to me, and he was the least intimidating guy ever. He returned with a big smile and guided me to the stairs that led down into this underground parking lot where people stored their boats. Again, I resisted.

"I'd really like to get some air," I said.

"No way," he answered. "It's way too scary for you to be alone out there." And he gestured toward the stairs.

I descended the stairs, my throat thick with dread. It was so dark down there, and the space was filled with massive boats. His car was parked beneath one of the boats, and he unlocked the door for me. I got in. He went to the driver's door and opened it, slid in, and started the engine, locking both of our doors. And then he turned the engine off.

"Oh no," I thought.

He was staring into space, smiling, breathing heavily. I pulled at my door, testing it, but nope...he had locked me in. I felt like I was in a horror movie as he slowly turned his head toward me, his eyes totally blank and that weird smile on his face.

"Are you scared?" he asked. "You are, aren't you? I can SMELL it. I can literally smell your terror right now and I'll be honest...I'm getting SO excited seeing the fear in your eyes."

My heart skipped so many beats, it felt like it would never start up again. I wanted to cry and scream and vomit all at once, and all I could think about was how I had never thought this last day of work would be my actual last day, ever.

I took a deep breath, and within three seconds several thoughts rushed through my head.

One, that I was being a perfect victim right now, shrinking into my seat, frozen with terror.

Two: that was exactly what he wanted.

And three...he was feeding off my fear; it was empowering him. Although I was almost shaking myself to pieces, taking my power back might be the only thing that could save me from getting raped...or worse.

So instead of crying or whimpering or screaming for help (as I REALLY wanted to do), I sat up straight, looked at him, and snapped, "Listen, mother*****r. I don't know what the f*** kind of game you're playing here, but you are f***ing with the wrong person. I've been working since three, I'm starving, and I'm not in the mood to deal with any bull****."

The second the words came out of my mouth, he shifted completely. The smile left his face, and he sat silent for a moment, thinking. I waited for a few moments, and then burst out, "WHAT THE F***? Drive or let me out, I am F***ING done with this stupid game, whatever it is."

He started up the car, and drove me to the underpass. As we drove, I frantically thought about how to gouge out an eye and a tear off a testicle when he inevitably tried to strangle me there. But he didn't. He stopped the car and didn't say a word as I got out, then peeled off. I shook all the way home.

I'm convinced that faking it saved me that night.

And if I can fend off a potential rapist/murderer by faking bravado when I have never felt more cowardly in my life, you can all at least PRETEND to be comfortable with putting out the vibe that you are incredible and amazing and so much more than enough....even if you don't believe it. Yet.

The End.

Anxiety and Acupuncture

Back in the day, before I started specializing in anxiety and insomnia in my practice, I noticed something interesting. I would consistently hear the same things from my patients, no matter what I was treating them for. Whether I was treating back pain, infertility, tennis elbow, you name it, many of my patients would give me some variation of the following feedback:

"It's so weird, ever since I had a session with you I feel like I popped a Xanax."

"Did you do something to my brain? Because I feel like it's hard for me to get stressed about things since my session with you."

"It's like I have an extra layer of SOMETHING between myself and the things that usually get me riled up. It's like I have to make an actual effort to get worked up or angry. I just don't feel like it."

Acupuncture has a profound effect on balancing out the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. For people with anxiety, it can be life-changing. I often describe acupuncture as "shifting you into a lower, slower gear."

Think about your system and stress response as a transmission. If you are riding along in the appropriate gear, the ride is smooth and you move at the right pace. If you crank that gearshift up into a higher gear, you're revved up. You might be moving faster, but you are also seriously damaging your engine (and if you do this for long enough, you might even blow it up!) 

People with anxiety are always running in a slightly higher gear. Their heart is usually beating a little faster than the average person. They are typically on high alert. Their response time for stressful situations is quicker. If you are in a constant state of hypervigilance, your engine is cranking even though you're not going anywhere. So what happens then? At the end of the day, you've worn out your engine. You're exhausted and have burnt out your adrenals.

Come to me, oh anxious ones :) I can downshift your engine for you with acupuncture, and can train your brain with hypnosis to help you bring yourself out of that constant, low-grade fight-or-flight mode!