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Good Boundaries Make Great Clients!

Building a natural health business can be a fun and rewarding experience. It also has potential to present difficulties that every entrepreneur has to work through. While some business owners seem to have an uncanny knack for building a business, others struggle.

Having difficulty doesn’t mean that you are not cut out for this type of thing, it only means that additional knowledge and skills are required to benefit your business – and most importantly YOU!

What is it that those with a ‘knack’ know? They know how to effectively use boundaries to accomplish their goals.

Signs that boundaries are needed.

Are you exhausted from working through the many expectations of others? Do you ever feel taken advantage of? Do others frequently ask for unsolicited freebies? Do constant interruptions decrease your productivity? Are “friend”-clients inclined to expect special treatment and favors? Are you frequently asked that ‘quick question’ that requires uncompensated research, but you do it even if you don’t have the time?

If any of these apply, you might consider the need to set boundaries. While all of these things may be a part of running a natural health business (and more), it is healthy to set your own priorities and not allow pressures inflicted from outside to ‘drive’ you. In simple terms, busy-ness does not equate with success.

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.”

~ Brene’ Brown

For some professionals the need for boundaries may present as resentment or anger. The feeling of having one’s stomach ‘tied up in a knot’ at the request of or thought of a person may also reveal a lack of healthy boundaries.  Feeling consistently overwhelmed or weary, or perhaps the realization that one has been taken advantage of or too often taken for granted may be yet another sign. When pushed to wits end the otherwise happy professional might even surprise themselves with that short or cutting remark that just jumped out of their mouth. Unfortunately, it may not have occurred to them that a lack of boundaries was causing their suffering and negative feelings or that there was a remedy.

Setting Boundaries is Healthy for You!

A person who sets boundaries is a person who cares for and respects themselves.  A person who is willing to set boundaries for themselves is a person who desires to nurture themselves with self-care and self-respect.  Believe it or not, setting healthy boundaries is a primary area that the natural health professional takes care of themselves!

Also, do not be quick to harshly judge those negative feelings you may have.  Negative emotions are merely an indicator that something is amiss in a similar manner as the fuel gauge on a car indicates whether the tank is full or empty. Now that you recognize healthy boundaries are in order you can do something about it!

Don’t become discouraged should the concept of boundary-setting have you in tears.  Given some time and opportunity it is very possible to become proficient in this area. Setting healthy boundaries is a wonderful way to practice self-love and personal growth is ultimately empowering and energizing.  If this is you, take courage. YOU CAN do this! Read on to learn how.

“Compassionate people ask for what they need.  They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it.  They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”

~ Brene’ Brown

Setting Boundaries is Healthy for Others!

For many natural health professionals, learning and practicing the skills required to create good boundaries necessitates taking a sobering inventory of themselves.  This is beneficial not only for ones-self, but also for one’s clientele.

Without boundaries, there is chaos, chaos causes stress which when prolonged results in the weakening the body.  In other words, your health will benefit from your learning to set good, healthy boundaries for yourself. Our clients, like us, benefit from applying similar techniques in their work and personal lives.  Boundary-setting tools are a great resource to have in one’s professional arsenal.

The following poem is a work of art crafted by the well-known American poet, Robert Frost.  Especially noteworthy is the relationship and understanding that is developed in the process of boundary-setting.

Mending Wall

by Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

If you would like to listen to an MP3 recording of this poem click on the link.  ->  Mending Wall by Robert Frost

How to Get Started Setting Boundaries

The place to begin is by delaying the urge to automatically say “yes” whenever a request is made.  As author/researcher Brene’ Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, states:  “The moment someone asks you to do something you don’t have the time or inclination to do is fraught with vulnerability. “Yes!” often seems like the easiest way out. But it comes at a price: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “Sure!” in my squeaky, I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this voice, only to spend hours, even months, feeling angry and resentful. For women, there’s a myth that we’re supposed to do it all (and do it perfectly). Saying no cues a chorus of inner shame gremlins: “Who do you think you are?” “You’re not a very caring [mother/wife/friend/colleague].”1

“No!” is a complete sentence!

Next, practice saying the word “No” with confidence! If you have difficulty speaking it out with confidence, practice! Say No! with enthusiasm until the confidence surfaces, then practice again. Say No! in front of the mirror. Say No! in the car. Practice until it becomes a habit. And remember, “No!” is a complete sentence!  Practicing your boundaries in everyday life is key to setting effective boundaries in your business.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything.”

~ Warren Buffett

Warren Buffet an American investor and business tycoon said “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything.” Isn’t that what every two-year-old child says? They are learning to set effective boundaries for themselves. A skill that will serve them well throughout their lives.

It is possible to use boundary-setting techniques to manipulate others/ This behavior ought to be rejected by the natural health professional. Manipulative boundaries are often extremely rigid and unyielding. They may be intended to make the boundary-maker feel safe or avoid anything that could possible go awry, but the downside is that manipulative boundaries actually exclusive. They serve to keep people ‘out’ instead of inviting them ‘in’-to a mutually-beneficial and rewarding relationship.

The 3 ‘C’s of Boundary-Making

What kind of boundaries should a natural health professional have? A good place to begin is by thinking about those areas in your business that would be benefited by a clearly-defined boundary. Undoubtedly, you will think of more than is listed here. Here are some examples to get you going:

Boundaries of Natural Health Professionals

  • Dates and times you are available (office, store, clinic hours)
  • ‘No show’ appointments. (Fee for cancellations?)
  • Being on time for their appointment. (How will tardiness be handled?)
  • When is payment due?
  • Preferred or acceptable, methods of payment.
  • How do you prefer to be contacted? (Email, text, phone call, etc.)
  • Client adherence to your professional recommendations, etc. (Definitely in the client’s best interest.)

After listing the boundaries you have decided upon and how you would like to handle each one, you will want to move on to the first ‘C’ of Boundary-Making.

Successful Boundaries Must Be Clear

Clear boundaries clarify expectations and set people up to succeed.  For boundaries to be respected and adhered to, clear communication is the key.

The best place to start when setting boundaries verbally is to “own’ it. This is an important step to establishing your authority and can be accomplished by making “I” statements. “I” statements are a simple way to get started. Practice the ones below and add any others that suit you. State them with confidence as with saying “No!”

“I don’t have the bandwidth for that.”
“I would be happy to answer your questions. My next available appointment is on Tuesday.
“I need time for myself outside of business hours.”
“I am not available before 10 a.m.”
“I can’t take that on.”

When offering an “I” statement, do not add further explanation as this muddles the message which will weaken the authority you would like to convey. Keep your boundary statements short and to the point.

Repetition along with enthusiasm will help build your confidence. If you have a friend with which you can practice, have them encourage you to be assertive. That is even better.

Successful Boundaries Must Be Communicated

It is a mistake to assume that others automatically know your boundaries. There are various ways to set boundaries with signs, in contracts, in policies, as well as verbally.

As was mentioned earlier, contracts, and policies and procedures are types of boundaries.  It is recommended to write out these things for the sake of clarity with your client.  However, not everything can be forethought and written.  Relationships are messy like that.  This is why we need to practice verbalizing limits.

Here is one example:  Last minute client cancellations or no-shows are costly in business.  Remember, your policies (boundaries) should be stated when the appointment is made, written where your clients can see them, and/or forwarded to them with intake paperwork.

At times it will be necessary to enforce this boundary. Practice the following statement until it can easily roll off of your tongue.

Boundary statement: “I am happy to cancel and reschedule your appointment. There is a $___ cancellation fee when less than a 48-hour notice is given.”

Obviously, we wouldn’t charge a cancellation fee every time a client cancels for any reason. After all, sometimes there are legitimate emergencies. However, being prepared for those times you have to use a boundary will help to keep you on your toes when you need it .

Successful Boundaries Must Be Consistent

Consistency is a bit more difficult in the beginning than after one has been setting boundaries for awhile. It is wise to expect some resistance when first using boundaries as with any good wall or fence there will be “fence testers”. Sometimes these are people who are genuinely surprised that there has been a change. These people generally will adapt and respect you all the more.

Another type of “fence tester’ is the manipulative or ‘toxic’ person. When you come across these as any reasonable and rational person would, just take a deep breath, relax, and calmly stick to your guns for “this too shall pass.”

“You best teach others about healthy boundaries by enforcing yours.”

~ Bryant McGill

Being habitual about consistently enforcing your boundaries shows that you respect your decision-making. Waffling demonstrates uncertainty and by doing so you undermine your own authority making it more difficult to hold your ground next time.

Take a moment and reflect back to the Mending Wall. Remember the place where the hunters passed through left a gaping hole in the stone fence? Their action made the boundary inconsistent. Inconsistency requires more effort to repair than the effort required in routine maintenance.

And that’s what this is all about isn’t it? Making your business a safe, joy-filled, and profitable venture… for YOU!

Good Boundaries Make Great Clients!

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