There is always a shadow side to everything “good” in this life.
Whilst I owe a lot to my former (and highly professional) life coach and the awareness I have gained from entering my own self-development journey, I have learned such valuable lessons these past few weeks after interacting with a new “practitioner” (I am using this term loosely).
I have seen the dark side of the self-development world. I have realised that even in this world of love and light, there are wolves in the guise of sheep’s clothing out there who exploit and take advantage (financially as well as emotionally and spiritually) of the vulnerable who are actively seeking assistance to better themselves. This toxic side of the spiritual world that I’ve just been exposed to reeks of “Fire and Brimstone” sentiments, based on fear-mongering and feeds off of our deep-seated insecurities. This particular person suggested (or rather forcefully imposed in absolutist terms) to me, that:
Only if I do “the work” I will be saved (i.e. manifesting my soulmate).
If I do “the work,” I am automatically superior to those who have not.
This individual sent me the contradictory message that yes, I am perfectly whole and complete the way that I am, but! “I am not finished yet,” and if I don’t do A, B, or C, and conform to their methods that they were selling as the “only way” or “the answer” (like dancing in the mirror naked or reciting affirmations every day, because it has worked for them)—I will never succeed in life; I will be alone for the rest of my days; I will never overcome my anxiety and no one will ever love me.
I felt it was placing conditions on my worth and my deservedness to receive love.
Even more importantly, being a person who works in the medical field as a Registered Nurse, the most disturbing and unprofessional part of this whole experience included:
>> Giving unqualified medical advice: After having an episode of severe anxiety, when I spoke to them about seeking psychological help and possibly medication therapy, I was met with the response that I don’t need medication because it doesn’t work as it just numbs the issue and that running back to a psychologist is just my old behaviour pattern. The fact that they provided inappropriate and unsafe mental health advice without the knowledge or professional qualifications to do so is highly unacceptable. If this individual worked in a medical setting, they would surely lose their registration.
>> The practitioner’s failure to uphold their Duty of Care obligations: after becoming emotionally distressed after the aforementioned session with them, they took four days to reply to my messages of distress and questions I had.
>> The extortionary price that the practitioner wanted to charge me for a single session: almost $1000 for one, 1:1 60-minute session. This price was never discussed prior and on questioning this and attempting to negotiate a payment plan, I was firstly ignored for seven days, then I received an abusive, vindictive text for not paying such a criminal price (and also, I could not afford to!).
In the text, it was implied in an abusive and aggressive way that because I have “manifested” (in this context, “manifesting” is the modern equivalent of being smote down by a lightning bolt of karmic justice from the heavens) chronic physical and mental illness, and a string of broken or dysfunctional relationships in my life, I am getting what I somehow deserve. How each individual interprets the concepts of universal law and karma is subjective, yet predators like this individual speak in such a devout manner, believing that only their interpretation is the correct one regarding who deserves what.
What about those who have miscarriages or the children who become terminally ill? What have they done? It seems to be a toxic ideology that the universe serves individuals selectively—rewarding some but punishing others (according to an individual’s opinion of right and wrong). Not to mention using my sensitive and vulnerable information that I shared with them to wound me emotionally.
After hearing all of this, I was shocked and disgusted and I entered into some deep reflection. If we are unconditionally worthy of love, then who dictates when we are suitably “finished” yet? When are we going to pass the exam in order to experience a healthy, loving relationship as our reward? Does finally receiving the love of another dictate we are finished yet? Isn’t that conditional then?
Since delving into this world, I realised early on that we are never going to be “finished.” Self-improvement is a life-long journey! What I was being force-fed, in my opinion, is an absolute Catch-22. It’s also evident that I naively thought that every individual under the holistic health umbrella was trustworthy and had a client’s best interest at heart. It has been a very clear message to me that I do not need “fixing” or “saving” but rather I need to trust my gut, and that according to my needs, I require assistance with learning how to manage my patterns and behaviours so that I can live my best life now. Not wait until I’m “finished,” as that might be never!
At the end of the day, I am not here to verbally bash practitioners in this industry. This article is merely a public service announcement based on my horrendous recent experience to remind you all to play it smart and do your research before you begin working with a practitioner in any health setting, be it medical or holistic. It’s so important to find your own brand of healing because no one size fits all with self-improvement and inner healing. If you want to see a psychologist/psychiatrist—go for it! If you want to see a life coach—by all means! If you want to dance naked under the light of a full moon—knock yourself out!
Do what works for you on an individualised basis.
Find a practitioner who is willing to cater to you as the unique individual that you are. Don’t let anyone tell you that you must adhere to one specific method in order for you to achieve health, love, or financial success. Ultimately what is important is that you trust your intuition with this stuff!
A quick guide (so you don’t have to go through what I did):
I’ve provided the following points to reflect on when choosing a suitable and safe practitioner.
>> Is the practitioner offering full disclosure and transparency?
>> What are their qualifications?
>> Are they members of a regulatory body and are they appropriately accredited?
>> Have they provided you with an official and comprehensive price list of their services including a breakdown of their 1:1 session price? (Not a typed message over the Messenger App!)
>> Is there an official contract involved if you decide to go ahead with their services?
>> What is their cancellation policy?
>> Do they issue official tax invoices and receipt of payments you’ve made for each session?
>> Do they generalise with you? Do they make assumptions about you and/or your behaviour and patterns based on their own experiences instead of actually getting to know you and your story?
>> Do they impose their opinion on you and attempt to coerce you into doing something they believe you should or should not be doing (all the while disregarding your thoughts and how you feel about it), rather than offering objective suggestions and guidance?
>> Do they suggest that their methods are the only way to achieve healing?
>> Do they uphold their Duty of Care obligations?
>> Do they have strategies in place in the event you are triggered or distressed as a direct result of a session with them?
>> Are they accessible between sessions if this happens, or have they provided alternative instructions for you to seek help if they’re not available?
>> Do they offer unqualified and inappropriate medical advice? Advising you to avoid seeing a psychologist or taking medication such as antidepressants despite medical input or a medical reason to?
>>Do they embody what they preach? Do they embody their values (i.e. integrity) that they claim to live by?
>> How does what they’re telling you feel in your body? What is your intuition telling you about them?
Knowledge is truly power. Be smart and safe!