Podcast: Ep #237: Healing & Synergy: When Your Clients Are Hard Drivers – How to Help Them Get Out of Pain

From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately | Healing & Synergy: When Your Clients Are Hard Drivers – How to Help Them Get Out of Pain

As part of the Healing & Synergy mini-series, today we’re talking about a very specific kind of client that may frequent your practice and how to help them get out of pain in a way that honors their nature and character.

I’m referring to the “hard driver”—those clients that are deeply ambitious and strong-willed. Most of these clients have been told the only way to reduce or eradicate their pain is to slow down or stop their actions altogether. But that’s simply not true.

Tune in as I discuss the three key concepts that I use to treat these clients, including themes I refer to as “infrastructure” and “being ludacris,” as well as how to channel a client’s innate internal energies to support their rehabilitation.

If you're interested in improving your healing skills with a more guided approach, join my Yoga Therapy Certification. Click here to register.

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What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to identify a client that is a "hard driver."

  • 3 key concepts to support this kind of client in reducing or eradicating pain. 

  • How to channel a hard driver’s innate ambitions to support their healing journey.

Featured on the Show:

  • If you're interested in improving your healing skills with a more guided approach, join my Yoga Therapy Certification. Click here to register.
  • Join the next Therapeutic Yoga Intensive on April 20–25, 2024 by registering here.
  • Ready to learn to listen to your body? Email [email protected] for a customized learning path.

Full Episode Transcript:

Male Announcer: You’re listening to From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately. You will hear Susi’s best ideas on how to reduce or even eradicate your pain and learn how to listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it scream. And now here’s your host, Susi Hately.

Welcome and welcome back. I’m so glad that you’re here because I am in the middle of the mini series on healing and synergy. And these are ideas and concepts and techniques that I’ve been using for almost 30 years helping people to reduce and eradicate physical pain. They include interviews with some of my trainees, with my grads, and ideas that I use every single day when I work with my trainees and clients.

So I hope that what I’m sharing today is going to be really useful because today we are getting into how you work with people who are hard drivers and are deeply ambitious. Because sometimes when I think about stories in my past, there are a lot of colleagues that have shared with me at different times like when people are hard drivers you can’t help them because no matter what you do with them when you’re in the studio or you’re in the clinic, they’re just going to go out and do the thing anyway. So what’s the point?

I can’t help them unless they slow down. I can’t help them unless they stop. They have to stop doing what they’re doing. And I’ve always found it interesting to hear that perspective on how that’s like the only way the person is going to get better. And I understand it, like I get it. And perhaps because I’ve got a bit of a hard drive or a deeply ambitious person inside of me, when I’ve met people like that, which is really most of my client base, I understand it.

I was an elite level lightweight rower when I was younger, in my teens. I was a great athlete in other sports when I was in my teens. So there was an inner drive that has always been innate inside of me. It’s not something I’ve ever had to cultivate, really. It’s just something that is inherent inside of me. So when I meet someone who is struggling and they’re in pain and they need my help, I can perceive that. I can see that.

And what’s so curious is that so many of them have said to me that because they’re in persistent pain they’ve seen other people over a period of time looking for the solution. They’ve made some gains but they haven’t quite gotten over the hump. But they’ll say to me some of these practitioners are telling me I’ve got to stop what I’m doing. What do you think?

So this is what I’m going to talk about today, what I think about that. And there’s three key themes that I’m going to address. And I’m going to highlight them. They’re single words, the first two are single words and the third one is a little phrase. And the first one is ludicrous. That’s the first theme. The second theme is infrastructure. And the third theme is don’t be surprised.

So we’ll start off with ludicrous, we’ll continue with infrastructure and we’ll complete it all with don’t be surprised. And within each of these themes you will get some ideas of how you can work with your clientele to really support them in getting well.

To highlight ludicrous, I’m going to tell you a story. And the story is about a client who was referred to me and they had been told by a couple of practitioners that they were crazy. And when they came to me, and they didn’t say this right at the front end, like when they first came to see me. They said it in about session three or session four. And they looked at me with a face that was looking for an answer and they said, “Do you think I’m crazy?”

I let the space sit for a couple of seconds. And it was one of those pauses that was intentional because it’s not the first time that I have heard a client ask me a similar question and then I responded with this. Let’s just think about this for a minute. And what if what they were saying is true? And that certainly made the person go, “What?” I said, just play with it for a second. What if this were true?

Think about it, you are in a position in a company, which only one person can hold. And you are running that company. And there are a whole number of people who work at that company that you are leading. There’s only one of you who can do that. What is normal is not your position. Most individuals at your company do not hold your job, they can’t. Only you can hold your job. There’s only one person.

So let’s shift the language up a little bit and say, what you are doing is inherently not normal. In fact, it’s ludicrous. That caused a smile, which then I said this, it’s not unlike thinking about sport. It is not normal to win. One team, one person can win. Take a look at any major sporting thing, one team wins out of how many teams, it’s not normal to win. It’s actually more normal to not win.

In fact, it’s ludicrous. It’s ludicrous to win. So when I said it that way, it kind of freed up some of the space, some of the energy in the space. And then I said this, I said, one of the reasons you get to be ludicrous, being ludicrous comes easily and naturally to you is because you have an inherent drive and ambition.

And what we can see and we have seen over the past few sessions is that you are able to utilize that energy, that drive and that ambition to reach the success that you want. And there’s been a cost because of how your body is displaying symptoms. Now, does it mean you need to stop doing what you’re doing?

That’s an option. And you can rest and then you can come back without having learned a new way of working with that drive and ambition. And you’ll probably find yourself back in the same position that you’re in, in pretty quick order.

And you can also learn how to channel that energy, direct that energy in a way that can really serve you. No need to change the energy. No need to change you. And you can channel it towards supporting you to the outcome you want.

So you see what I’m doing here? I am not making my client wrong for being ludicrous. I’m not making my client wrong for being deeply driven and deeply ambitious. And I am suggesting that if you keep doing what you’re doing, you can take a rest, but if you don’t learn to rechannel what you’ve got to really serve you, then you might find yourself in a repetitive cycle.

And if you do rechannel that energy in a way that can serve you, the likelihood of being out of the cycle gets a lot more predictable and becomes more of something that will happen quite naturally.

That said, it will take work to rechannel because it’s changing habits and it’s requiring some growth of awareness because what’s gotten these folks into the predicament that they’re in is blind spots, is the ability to push body symptoms aside, this ability to drive hard and go forward.

So being able to become aware takes some work. Taking clarity of what’s working and not working takes some work. Growing connection with and between the brain and body takes some work. Recognizing the feedback between their brain and their body, it takes some work.

Initially, yes, it takes some work. And we can help them channel their energy and use that drive and ambition to do exactly those four things; grow the awareness, gain clarity, improve connection, improve feedback. It’s a slam dunk for me. It’s like to me, it’s very, very straightforward. I get to help them channel their energy so it serves them more effectively so they can keep doing the things that they love to do.

And all they really need to do is help improve their awareness, their clarity, their connection and their feedback. Now, it does take some step by step by step. It does take some training. It does take some teaching. It does take all of the things that are necessary to help them along that path. But what’s important here, and it’s vital in my mind, is that at no point, at any point here have I made them wrong.

And I don’t think that other practitioners are trying to make their client wrong. I do think practitioners are in the work they’re in because they see the best in people. I might be a bit naive when I say that, but it’s just the way that I like to see the world, is that in my line of work most people are in it because they see the best in people and they do see that there is a possibility. And whatever they’re saying is not landing well. It’s not landing in a way that’s really serving that client, right? And that happens with all of us.

So if I harken back here, come back to the scenario with my client, it’s like, all right, so now let’s get to work. Let’s get to work helping you to rechannel this so you can get back to all the things you want to do in a way that has much more clarity, connection, and way better feedback between your brain and your body so you can just keep freaking going, but in a way that serves you.

Which leads me to number two, which is infrastructure. And this is something I talk a lot about on this podcast. We get into it deep in the intensive and in cert, but it really is about helping them gain an objective connection with how their body moves.

I come at this from the body because we can use cameras and zooms and all sorts of other techniques to see how their body is moving. Is their arm bone moving in their socket, yes or no? Is their leg bone moving in the hip socket, yes or no? Is their pelvis compensating? Are they gripping? Are they bracing?

All these things are very clearly able to be seen, both parties can objectively see what is going on and what’s not going on, what is working, what’s not working. So I start here at this very, very objective place because there’s no argument, it’s happening or it’s not happening. And I can show them the process by which to gain better movement patterns. It’s not about stretching the bejesus out of something. It’s about creating better connections between their parts.

And as they get the connection between their parts working better, things work better, right? They start to understand, like the clarity they gain. They start to understand why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling. They start to pin things together. They see the patterns. They see the correlations.

The thing is with people who are deeply driven and deeply ambitious, they know how to process information. They are cognitively very clear. Their minds and brains work quickly, typically. And they’re able to take in large amounts of information and work with it in just remarkable ways that as a practitioner to watch them process is always so fascinating to me.

And so I just let them do what they do with the information that they’ve learned and that sometimes I guide them to or point out, but I let them process it through. They’ve got the mind power and the brain power to do that, but it’s an infrastructure question.

So the way I’m going to explain this a bit further is some runners that I’ve worked with. Now, runners are well known for just being able to run and just close down and freaking go. And I love them for that. And it’s also what can get them into deep, deep, deep doo doo.

Well, some of them will say to me, so should I stop running? Like people tell me all the time I need to stop running. And I’ll say to them, all right, here’s how I want you to consider this, is that through these movements that we’ve done so far, we’ve seen that this is how your leg bone is moving in your pelvis. And this is what’s happening with your foot. And this is what’s going on with your rib cage and your pelvis.

And here’s how things are moving and how things are connected or not connected and what your tissue is tending to respond as. We can see these things. And I mean, what are the other things that we’ve noticed? And I’ll ask them that question, like, what else have you noticed? And there’ll be a conversation about, yeah, I noticed this and I noticed this and this.

And I’ll say, so here’s the thing with running, imagine yourself staying on a scale and that scale is going to read a number. Then you start to kind of move a little bit and wiggle your hips a bit. And you look down at the number and the number’s gone up because we’ve added forces and load. So now you jump on that scale and there’s even more. So now there’s even more load going through.

So if you’re running, there’s quite a bit of load passing through your body. Now if you don’t have the infrastructure to absorb and dissipate that load, to transfer that load well, upper body to lower, lower body to upper, left to right, and then all the directions, then yeah, you might not have incredibly efficient movement patterns. And that might get you into a bit of trouble or not. But it might, right?

The infrastructure, the architecture here is giving me some ideas around what’s contributing or correlated to the pain that you’re experiencing. Now, can I say for absolutely, for sure, for sure, for sure, that’s what’s contributing to your pain? No. I mean, there’s a bazillion different reasons for physical pain.

But from the lens that I look at a lot of movement and healing and recovery, I’ve seen such a strong correlation between compensatory, inefficient, limited movement patterns. And when we can clean those up, physical pain reduces or eradicates.

We can look at it from this infrastructure place so then you can decide here, right? Like we see this, you are doing this activity, you kind of get to play with that decision, which then leads me to the third theme, which is don’t be surprised.

And that leads me to the follow-up to this number two, which is, so if you go out for your run, don’t be surprised if you start to experience some strain. Don’t be surprised if some of these yellow lights or whispers that I like to share with you and talk about and what you’ve discovered about your body, don’t be surprised if they start to bubble up.

It’s the same thing with the client I was referring to who had a very high profile job and he had been told that he was crazy and I used the word ludicrous. And when he was going through some big, big projects that he was managing I would say to him, don’t be surprised when your yellow lights show up because they might. Just don’t be surprised, like pay attention.

And if you can, can you pay attention for the whisper of the whisper? Can you tune into the signal that’s letting you know that that whisper is coming? And if you don’t, no big deal. Just when it shows up, don’t be surprised. It’s your body letting you know.

And here’s the beauty of being ludicrous, infrastructure and don’t be surprised, is that it’s honoring the very nature and character of that person. It’s honoring the very nature and characteristic of their body currently. And it’s honoring the very nature of the way their body is communicating with them. So we’re just meeting the person and all of them, all of them, all the layers of them, where they are at.

And I can tell you with great passion, clearly, that when someone is seen, when someone is heard, when there are parts of them that they didn’t even know were being witnessed, crazy, cool, amazing, ludicrous stuff starts to happen called healing and recovery. And it’s freaking cool. That’s why I continue to do what I do and why I say it’s freaking cool, because it’s fun.

It’s so much fun and people love it and they crave it. And that’s why they seek someone like me out because they know I’m not going to tell them that they’re crazy because they are. They are, because it is not normal to be in positions like that. It’s not normal. Most people in the world are not extreme athletes. Most people in the world are not performing at that level.

It’s just not normal. And isn’t that amazing and awesome? And let’s channel that energy that is inherently you, honoring the infrastructure that is your body and understanding the communication systems that are your symptoms, that are your sensations, that are the signals so you know when you need to slow down, when you need to take a break, when you can drive yourself hard.

And you might need to drive yourself hard to get a project done or to get a competition completed or to do some cool, cool trick. So then you just need to know to take care of yourself later and none of it is wrong. It’s all good.

And that is really the essence of this episode, is that there’s nothing wrong and you may just be the ludicrous one. And let’s honor that. Let’s build upon that and let’s help you into that world of possibility and out of pain.

If you are a health professional or yoga teacher who is really vibing on what I’m saying, please check out the certification program. We need more of us out there helping people who are ludicrous who want to grow their ability to feel their bodies, because they do, and help them just do amazing things in this world. Check out functionalsynergy.com/certification and we’ll catch you on the next episode. Take good care.

If this episode has resonated and you’re looking to deepen this idea of getting your body back on board, of listening deeply to your symptoms, of listening to the whispers so you don’t have to hear the screams, and you’re looking for one to one support or professional training, then reach out to us at [email protected] where we can customize your learning path. That’s [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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