For YEARS, I worked in a career that was out of alignment with my values.
Everyone talks about how “broken” the system is. Everyone talks about how we have an illness system, not a wellness system. Everyone talks about how we keep people stuck, treating symptoms, instead of root causes. The dysfunction of the system is certainly no secret.
But I thought I could be in it anyway AND honor my own values.
I thought I could be a powerful force in the mental health industry. I thought I could operate in my own values, influence the big bad “SYSTEM”, and change it.
I WAS WRONG.
The compromises in the system that DID NOT align with my values:
Hierarchical relationships, based on status and credentials
Expert approach, rather than self direction
Treatments focused on diagnoses, labels, and medications, instead of lifestyle and needs
Secrecy masked as confidentiality
Disingenuine belief in self-direction/independence
Very restrictive non-personal relationships between clients and staff
Non-affectionate language and touch restrictions
Even though I did not align with some of the values and practices of the field I was working in, I convinced myself I could make it work.
The values my soul held:
My heart pulled me to reach out to clients in a more personal and open way than was allowed.
My spirit valued absolute equality, regardless of credentials or education or diagnoses.
My intuition told me human touch and loving, affectionate words were essential to healing.
My soul was repelled by the system of man-made diagnoses and compelled me to dare to question the ultimate authority - the DSM.
My heart was sad every time a doctor or counselor told one of my clients they were not going to get better and that they were always going to be medicated. I felt caged when I was not allowed to present alternative options to traditional medicines. I felt heavy I was not allowed to believe clients could truly get better.
I felt inspired to hold long term relationships with clients, occasionally touching base with them over the years and sharing mentoring opportunities when it felt right.
My soul vehemently believed in the power of choice and unlimited possibilities, but often my unconventional answers were not accepted.
My entire being believed in innate divine giftings, not able to be learned through formal education or credentialing, yet letters behind one’s name seemed to be the only authority that mattered. I did not align with the idea one’s gifts needed to be validated by a man-made system.
For 13 YEARS, I took trainings, Continuing Education Units, and submitted myself to clinical supervision, which all followed a set of values that did not align with my spirit. It was tricky. I either followed my own values and lived in fear of being caught, or followed their values and felt completely misaligned and icky. It took its toll.
That’s a long time to play tug of war.
After supervising for 2 and a half years at a treatment center, I was let go for maintaining friendships with past residents. I had poured my heart and soul into that job. I am still friends with most of those girls today and that was over 10 years ago. I am glad I followed my heart.
After over 10 years of working with clients with mental illness, I have maintained many friendships with so many families. I have baked birthday cakes. I have made dinners. I have gone to weddings and funerals and birthday parties. I have given and accepted gifts. I have introduced friends and family members. I have given so many hugs and “I love you’s”. I have sat with a past client and held her hand as I watched her die of cancer. All of these things broke the rules. But they were what my own intuition and heart inspired me to do. I am not sorry for any of them.
When I left the financial and mental “safety” of the field of social work, I also was free to leave all of the suffocating rules behind. However, the brainwashed “rules” have stuck with me. Sometimes, I still watch my back as if someone is going to “catch me” when I speak freely with a client on Facebook or give someone a hug.
I am letting go of the rules more each day. I am letting my heart lead. I am listening to my intuition and inspiration.
I am FREE to love freely. I am free to operate in my Divine gifts, without permission.
Whose rules are limiting you?
Whose rules are pretending to usurp your own values and gifts?