When I first started working with people building my own practice as a practitioner of inquiry, offering classes, working with people one-on-one, teaching retreats and workshops….I wanted as much experience as possible.
I worked with anyone who wanted to do The Work.
I offered free sessions. I filled my schedule. I would ask people if they wanted to be a practice client. I would ask people if they’d enjoy participating in a class.
The more doing of it, the more sessions, the more minutes and then hours and weeks added up…..the more confident and clear I became.
Sometimes people now ask me how to build a private practice.
While there are many technical details like websites and connecting with others for marketing, one of the most important things I found is to give your service. Even if you don’t get paid.
But Not Forever.
Because that isn’t a business, that’s a form of personal service at a volunteer level, and not everyone can support their own food, shelter and clothing with no income.
Sometimes, people ask me about scholarship help, trading a service for my work….and I always consider their commitment, their situation, their desire.
I almost never have people who pay nothing at all unless there is a valuable trade we can make. People have awesome things they’ve given me. Beautiful art, handmade pottery, computer design, website help.
There is a feeling within about the exchange that is loving, generous, alive. I had a woman, a beautiful client, who came out of rehab with nothing, almost zero cents to her name, who put together all she could which was $20 per month for the two months she was in one of my classes.
For her, it was a lot. She didn’t miss one single call, she did all the homework, she emailed with questions. She wasn’t messing around.
Not all the exchanges go like that one, though.
I remember a man who kept asking me to attend a live afternoon half-day retreat I offer every quarter or so, where I spend time making preparations for each individual attending, buying materials, food, creating the space.
He would contact me and ask to come for free. I said what would work for you? He said he could afford nothing. Nothing would work for him.
I said how about $5 to cover snacks and materials? He said no, he couldn’t afford it. After another request, I said yes, come for free, no need to pay even $5.
He arrived in a big car, which was his own, and I couldn’t help think that he had to be able to afford the gas to drive to the workshop. And the car.
Even though I had done so much personal inquiry on money…. I experienced a little flare of resentment.
I was no longer suffering with very low income myself, I wasn’t afraid to have a business and charge fees, I received, I gave my all back, I had stopped feeling embarrassed about needing money in the first place.
This stressful thought about this retreat participant was like a mosquito bite. Itchy, annoying.
Here were my stressful thoughts: he doesn’t value what I’m offering enough to pay even $5 for it, he wants something for nothing, he’s scamming me.
Ouch. Time for inquiry.
Is it true, that he doesn’t value what I’m offering? That he wants something for nothing?
I don’t really know. He may have hugely massive stressful beliefs about money, The Work, his own capabilities. It probably has nothing to do with me.
But that one piece of me wondered. It wasn’t satisfied. Worried that it could be true.
So how did I react when I believed that he was not being fair, withholding, feeling scarce, not valuing my expertise, not valuing this work, or that he’s lying about what he can’t afford?
I didn’t feel 100% open to him. I felt a defense, a carefulness. I felt like I was being ripped off, undervalued. I felt puzzled. I felt like I wanted to teach him that you don’t do that to people.
Who would I be without the thought that I know what he’s thinking or valuing, intending or caring about? Or that I need him to value me by giving me money?
Jeez. So ashamed of these thoughts. I’m too greedy. I’m not trusting.
Stop. The question was “who would you be WITHOUT that thought?”
Not “try to get rid of the thought quick because you are a loser when you have it.”
Without the thought, I noticed I loved his participation, his sweet work, his genuine caring for his own life and how he was perceiving him “problems”. I saw how hard he was trying. I had no idea how money fit into all that.
And that didn’t mean I had to say “yes” again.
Turning the thoughts around, I see with clear awareness what was truer in all those moments of questions and answers, saying yes and saying no:
I am not valuing myself in that moment, I don’t value what I’m offering enough to pay even $5 for him, I want something (money) for nothing, I’m scamming myself in that moment because I’m thinking I need to say yes, or no, to be a good person.
How can I live the turnaround to value myself?
Value myself. If I have questions, bring them up. Trust the process of honestly sharing. Trust that when someone has nothing to pay, that is so right for them (it was powerful for me, when that was my situation).
As Byron Katie says, I can love them, but it doesn’t mean I have to go to dinner with them, or live with them.
Being absolutely wide open honest, kind, full of love for all the others and for me….all connected.
No one getting left out.
Money teleclass starting again soon! We get into these kinds of wonderful thoughts. Exciting!