Expectations. Premeditated resentments. Unnecessary stress.

Yesterday, I did a great job of placing the responsibility of change squarely on the shoulders of my clients–where it belongs, of course. And yet, for hours afterward I was left with a sadness I couldn't explain.

Through reflection and journaling, I stumbled across the thought:

I expect my clients to take our work as seriously as I do.

A friend tells me this is fairly reasonable as far as expectations go. That's probably true. But for me, it often morphs into:

I believe my clients are taking this as seriously as I do, so I will work really hard for them.

And often that means I'm working harder than my clients. And that means I'm breaking a cardinal rule of therapy:

Never work harder than your clients.

Because you will be consistently disappointed and frustrated, and those feelings lead to compassion fatigue, which is the kissing cousin of burnout.

I'm so mindful of letting go of the outcome and not basing my satisfaction on "making a difference." It never occurred to me that my real hang-up was a seemingly innocuous hope that I'm not the only one who cares about what happens both in and out of the room.

I'll spare you the deeper psychological wound this particular revelation applies to and re-opens each time it comes up. Suffice it to say, now I know how I'm being triggered and what contributes to my dissatisfaction with work. I'm whittling away at it so I can find some acceptance. I think I'm getting closer all the time.


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