As a blog writer I always attempt to write posts that are relevant to my everyday life. I attempt to write about a topic that I recently witnessed or experienced in my life as a professional dance/movement therapist; whether it is in response to Creative Arts Therapies week or something that happened while leading a dance/movement therapy (DMT) group. I’ve found that it is easier for me to write about what’s happening in the here and now. Recently I’m noticing the interplay between my professional and personal life. More specifically, I’ve noticed the impact my personal life has had on my professional life. This topic comes up for me time and time again and sometimes I find it aggravating. Shouldn’t I have a handle on the interplay of personal and professional experiences by now?
There is always a conversation between my personal and professional life. I believe that each aspect influences the other. Usually the events in my personal life impact my daily work as a dance/movement therapist, and my daily work impacts my personal life. This was an idea originally introduced to me in DMT supervision. Oftentimes in supervision, I’d mindlessly babble on to my supervisor about DMT and my daily work when my supervisor would stop me and say, “Emily what is this really about?” At which point I would stop, think, exhale and then begin to explore the deeper inner workings of my self. Although it certainly is important to have proper boundaries between both aspects of ourselves, we have to notice and honor how they influence each other.
I am currently examining this topic again because recently my partner and I have committed to a substantial life change. Although we’ve committed to making a change, the change is not necessarily entirely in our control or on our timeline. As a result, both my partner and I feel a bit in limbo, like we’re waiting on hold until we get a green light. Like with most big life changes, we have also begun to examine our life as a whole by evaluating what is important to us as people. It’s a heavy topic. Until recently I did not realize how this had impacted my daily work as a dance/movement therapist.
What I did notice, however, was that my professional work was starting to take a slump. My DMT groups were lackluster, disoriented and unfocused. I also noticed that I was having a hard time being present during groups and unable to be in the unknown of the group process. As I’ve mentioned in my blog many times over, these two elements are the crux of my approach to DMT. Needless to say, I started to beat myself up about my ineffectiveness and was curious about why my professional work was suffering.
I brought up my frustrations at supervision, in Authentic Movement and discussed it over and over with my partner. What I discovered was that my professional work was suffering as a result of my personal life. I had little control over an upcoming change in my personal life and I was compensating for it in my professional life. Since I lacked control in my personal life I attempted to regain it in my DMT groups. Instead of focusing in the present moment and being in the unknown of the process, I got stuck trying to control the group and lacked the patience to allow groups to form organically. Once I had realized this (in addition to letting go of the need for control in general which is a hard task within itself) my work flow returned. My DMT groups seemed to be effective and engaging. I was able to feel normal at work again.
The interplay of personal and professional experiences both helps me understand my approach to self-care and my DMT work at a deeper level. When I feel imbalanced in my life I know I need to evaluate my wellness. Do I need better boundaries? Do I need to make adjustments to my level of engagement at work? Do I need to make space for recuperation? Do I need to let something go in order to do my job better or be a better person? Although I do get aggravated with myself because I do not have a handle on the interplay on my personal and professional roles, I also wonder if this is a lifetime struggle. Do I always need to be mindful of their interplay? I’m guessing so.