I have not written a blog here for several months now – and those of you who are clients will know why. However, as 2018 has come to a close and 2019 begins, I find myself looking at a rather different future than the one that faced me at this time last year – and it’s been a crazy few months.
One of the best things about the field of Integrative Healthcare in the UK is that it is burgeoning – and this means that there are opportunities everywhere. If you ask anyone who works within this area, there is a sense that no-one has quite got the approach ‘right’ yet. There are business potentials within this market, and yet squaring the opportunity for a business against the reality that you are in a caring profession is challenging, especially in the UK where the mentality has been ingrained (by the presence of the NHS) that healthcare should be ‘free’.
If you assess the work that we do – which is systems biology: comprehending illness that manifests within the body as the surface expression of a breakdown of either the body’s systems or the communication between them – you realise that this approach to healthcare could help anyone.
Moreover, you understand that there is often a balance to be struck between using these methods to help people who are already sick – and popularising the healthcare principles which would prevent people getting sick in the first place.
My practice, in mid-2018, had become very much based on assisting those with chronic illnesses. My day would consist of some very heavy cases. I was helping those seriously in need – often those for whom I was their last hope, the end of a long string of doctors and professionals.
For some, I was what they needed. For others, I was another step in their route to finding the practitioner that could ultimately help them. However, with every case and every new client I felt the deep and compelling pressure to help. This is a pressure and a duty I take really seriously. If someone is asking me for guidance – moreover, paying me any money for that help – I feel obligated to help and I feel a great pressure to find the answers and be available. I am one of those people who has been in the position of being the one in need. I remember, more intuitively than consciously, the way it feels to wait and to hold out hope that someone might be able to answer my questions and show me the way to heal. When someone is waiting on me, I find this a stressor and a burden that I carry.
As such, having my career revolve around the need of other people was becoming a stress on my system. As my patient load increased I had to recognise that this way of working would only ever be finite, because my energy was (and is) a limited resource. There was always going to be a cap (in terms of years) of how long I could keep this all going.
Now – I am pretty sure that I have a complex about making up for lost time/proving to ‘others’ (myself?) that I should not have been written off when I was ill etc. This is useful fuel and determination, but it will only get me so far. It certainly won’t sustain the relentless pressure I was placing on myself to be an always-available resource for my patients.
So, towards the last few months of this year, when another opportunity presented itself, I owed it to myself to explore this. Initially, I quadrupled my workload – though this was with business, operations, organisation and systems-building. For those that don’t know, this is the world I came from.
All I have ever done in my life (professionally speaking) is fix problems – mostly by fixing systems. This used to mean being a high-level PA, fixing entrepreneurs’ and high-net-worth individuals’ offices/homes/lives.
Latterly, this has been biological and psychological systems and networks… It doesn’t escape me that it’s all the same, though…
I have once been known to say, “I have never seen a broken system I didn’t want to fix” – and it’s true. I even took on a side-project this year to volunteer to fix some communications for a charity… So when I see a healthcare project which speaks to everything I know is possible, with some pretty stellar people – and it looks like they’re simply missing an operational system underneath, it is natural to me to understand the problem and go about implementing measures to fix it.
So, in a nutshell, this is what I have been doing. Except that nothing is never that simple. As always, a project begins as one thing and spirals into being something else. I have come to write this update blog so many times – though was wanting to have the ‘ending’ and the ‘this is what I’ve been working on’ moment before I did. And yet we’re still not quite there. Whilst I have spent the festive period completing the systems work, it will be the early weeks and months of 2019 which define the future here. The opportunities are many – and each one of them requires me re-defining my sense of what I bring to this space and this world. As yet, I still really don’t know which direction all of this will go.
Network and Friendships
Running my practice in the first half of 2018 was remarkably lonely, it must be said. I would see clients all day, every day – and yet when you work as a practitioner who is in sole control of everything this can be overwhelming and isolating. And because you run your own business – and you’re in the business of helping people – it is very easy to never switch off.
The beauty of the way the end of 2018 has gone for me is that it has brought me into a much more communal environment – where conversations and meetings with other professionals have taken up more of my time, as opposed to being the sought-out therapeutic professional. Given what I’ve said above about the pressure of caring for people, you will perhaps understand why this has been appealing.
I have been put into an arena which was both familiar, and yet different – and I have been operating within networks, touching the lives of many people to whom I would not previously have been exposed. As always when you come into contact with other humans, this is a delightful (if challenging) learning process. I have always found that I learn about myself as I interact with others – and this year has seen me back in an old world (the world of London executives and big business), one which I had previously left for the good of my own health. This time I have been there from a different perspective. It has been interesting, enlightening and, at times, has led me to question whether I truly want to be back in this environment: whether I can ‘get it right’ this time.
And there have been many professional colleagues I have met along the way. Brilliant people – all in their own way. Some people filled with heart and integrity who are feeling burned out and jaded by their desire to help and their unawareness of building a business model around that. Others who have all the business savvy and yet are challenging themselves to bring this into a more heart-centred model because they comprehend that this is necessary in healthcare. I have met those who just ‘get’ things, in every area: health itself, medicine, performance and longevity, emotional integrity etc. etc. It’s been wonderful to me to be invited into their worlds and called their colleague – and ultimately, with some, their friend.
But even with all of this – and all of the opportunities, networks, doors opening etc. – I still don’t know how 2019 will take shape for me. Throughout all of the above, my relationship with both myself and with how to deliver healthcare (and what I think are the foundations of being healthy) have been subtly changed and transformed.
I wouldn’t say that my ethos is actually different from what it was. But what I have observed is that I am starting to have more confidence to talk openly about what I think is important for wellness – and this will be how I imagine my writing and my practice will transform as we move into the New Year. In a world where we, as professionals, seek legitimacy, it is very easy to remain in the practical, the provable, the scientific/diagnostic/analytical/physical.
And whilst anyone of you reading this who has worked with me will know that my comprehension of systems biology will always influence my recommendations and my protocols – you will also know that I write to you about that bit (the boring, practical bit) afterwards…
I spend most of our sessions talking about the more esoteric elements of healing: trauma, self-perception, neural patterns, behavioural biochemistry and the ‘purpose’ of illness. It is this part that I believe is the priority – and my intention for 2019 is that I am able to be more openly expressive about this part of what I do. Because, above all of the diets/supplements/protocols/plans/technology/self-quantification metrics etc. etc. – it is my belief that it is this deep, inner work which really builds healthy, happy humans.
It is therefore this deep, inner work that I am called to help people through. I have had to do it for myself (and, of course, it is a job that is never ‘done’ – it merely evolves) and I know the value of it – the absolute essential foundation of it – when it comes to creating health.
So, to conclude, thank you for reading this update. Irrespective of the trajectory of my future, I hope to restart more regular writings in 2019.
And speaking of happy and healthy humans: I wish this for all of you – those I know personally and those I don’t – for the New Year and for the entirety of 2019.