I was sitting at lunch last week with a therapist who had reached out to connect with me as he is getting ready to move into his post-doctorate life, and he asked me, “So, Jenn, how did you do it, how did you build a successful private practice?” Good question, right? I thought so, and I took a minute to reflect on what he had asked me. I gave him the most honest, heartfelt response I had, which was that “I always knew I would.”
I went into grad school knowing that my ultimate destination was private practice. I can remember the messages being delivered those first few days of school of how I could expect to make no money as a psychologist and not to bother with private practice because it's too hard to build a sustaining practice. Whether it was naiveté, or arrogance at the time, I chose to brush off those messages as foolish and I'm so thankful that I did because how we think about ourselves, our business, and our potential for success is critical to the amount of success we achieve.
What I've come to understand about success is that we are only as limited as our belief system and our perspective tells us we are. And unfortunately, in this field there far too many messages circulating about how limited we are and what we are capable of.
I believe that in order to be truly successful you have to believe it in order to see it. It is imperative that you believe you are capable of finding success in private practice in order for you to see it into actuality. When I look back on my own process through this journey I realize how strongly I believed in private practice as my path and there was no other option for me.
It's amazing though just how easy it is to deny this strength within us. I think our field is especially prone to denying our strengths in business and success and even encourages us to play small. There is a message of martyrdom and pathologizing, or even villanizing, those that pursue business and financial goals. Why are we so afraid to stand-up and declare how awesome we are and how deserving of success we are, to truly let ourselves shine bright? Why do we listen to the irrational thoughts that consume us with fears of what other people will think?
It can be a very powerful tool and opportunity for growth to explore and challenge some of the beliefs that we are holding onto around money, business, and success. What did you learn about money, wealth and success. either from your family of origin, or from your experience in grad school?
How You Can Take Action Today:
I've included a PDF that you can download which offers some journal prompts for you to explore some of the beliefs you might have around success and your private practice. Take some time to bring these beliefs into the open and start to test their validity.
Start to notice whenever you hear yourself saying "I can't" in regards to private practice and then take a step back and use some of your clinical skills to challenge these thoughts. Ask yourself if that is really true? Is there anyone else that has done it before? If they could do it, why not you? Ask yourself who you would be if you didn't believe this about yourself. And if there is anything that you are forgetting about yourself that would help you get past this.
And once you bring these negative and limiting beliefs to the surface, please don't judge yourself harshly for having them. Remember, they are a byproduct of the human condition and we will forever be negotiating our relationships with negative and limiting beliefs.
I will leave you with my favorite passage from Marianne Williamson in her book A Return to Love:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."