This is the second part of a four part series on how I integrated the Four Agreements into my therapeutic massage practice. Read parts 1, 3, and 4 here.

Agreement 2 – Applied to my massage practice

Don’t take anything personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Not taking anything personally requires detachment and objectivity. This is not easy. Bodywork is inherently intimate and practitioners tend to put their heart and soul into it.

Compounding the problem is that it is easier for clients to dish out criticism without a direct conversation.

Think of all the ways people can comment without being face to face. Review sites, texts and emails create a buffer and people can vent what they find hard to say in person.

Sometimes their feedback seems unfair. For example one time a hairstylist friend told me that a mutual client would not be returning to me because the massage was too strong. This is the same client who begged for more and more pressure in spite of admonishing her of a likely blowback in aches and soreness. At first, I was annoyed. However, I kept in mind that as it says in the second agreement, “nothing others do is because of you”. Ultimately, she came in to get care, and when it didn’t go the way she wanted, it was not so much about me personally as much as it was with her frustration with the repercussions.

Be a good listener.

It is not about pleasing the therapist, it is about pleasing the client.  It is my job to be a good listener and match my skills to their goals.  The only way to do that is to not take things personally and really listen.

It can be challenging for clients too. Most want to be liked and worry that communicating their wants will appear confrontational. On the other hand, they want to have the best experience possible. So, instead of speaking up and telling the therapist that they want less or more pressure, or a different rhythm or to skip certain body parts, they stay silent. It’s often a very sweet part of them that does not want to hurt the therapists feelings. Unfortunately, rather than have the conversation, they may just choose to not come back, and that is not good for business. So, integrating the second agreement helps me to create an environment where the client feels like they can safely say and ask for what they want.

As for the people that do express their likes and dislikes directly and clearly, I love and embrace their feedback. Someone else may think that they are hard to please. I don’t. Client who are more particular are actually very committed to obtaining the absolute best experience for themselves, and that is exactly what they should have.

Tension from taking things too personally can be helped with a good TMJ massage.