Hello there, and welcome back to the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast!

I’m your host, Cindy Norton.

Here in Episode 34 – the Halloween Special Episode – I’m going to talk to you about how to manage fear on your private practice journey.

Let’s get started.

Podcasts are growing in popularity and there are already so many great private practice podcasts out there. If you join the Trailblazer community via my seasonal newsletter you will receive a free A-Z download that includes a list of my favorite private practice podcasts.

I hope that the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast will earn its spot in your regular podcast listens.


See below for the episode show notes links and transcript…

Episode 34 Show Notes Links

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Episode 34 Transcript

Hello there, and welcome back to the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast! I’m your host, Cindy Norton. Here in Episode 34 – the Halloween Special Episode – I’m going to talk to you about how to manage fear on your private practice journey.

Let’s get started.

Have you been wanting to start your private practice, but you can’t seem to take that first step? Maybe you’re afraid of failure or lack confidence, or maybe the idea of running your own practice is overwhelming. I’m Cindy Norton, owner of Mountain Practice Journeys and I help therapists and counselors to love the business side of private practice. I’ll share with you practical skills and advice along with a healthy dose of inspiration so that you can be on your way to the practice of your dreams. Put on your hiking boots, and let’s get going.

If you haven’t yet listened to Episode 33, I urge you to do that. In that episode I talked with Lindsay Bryan-Podvin about the seven signs of a bad business coach.

Now let’s get on to today’s Halloween Special episode. It’s all about managing fear on your private practice journey. I believe that fear equals growth.

There are going to be several times throughout your private practice journey where you want to give up. I can immediately think of 5 of those instances for me!

-before my first day of grad school
-before my first (and second) residency
-before my internship
-before starting my first job as a therapist
-before opening my private practice

What is the common factor of all these fears? They all occurred right before something amazing happened, or right before a period of epic growth.

Feeling like you are not prepared and fear of the unknown can freeze you in your tracks. And if you’re like me, I tend to prepare, research, plan, and prepare some more – and never take action.

Then the desire of following my dreams is greater than my fear, and I end up taking the leap before I feel like I’m ready – when in reality I could have made the leap months or years earlier.

You’re right where you need to be. Remind yourself of this – often. When you’re an intern, remember that you have the training and education to be at an intern level.

I remember a story that my professor told me during my first residency. She gave names to each one of our fingers. The pinky finger was a grad student, the ring finger was an intern, and we worked our way up from there. She told us that we were only expected to be a pinky finger there at the residency.

Something about that story stuck with me – probably because of the relief that it gave me at the time. You see, the thing with perfectionists is that we have a hard time staying in our lane. We have a cognitive distortion (for lack of a better word) that we should be levels ahead of where we actually are. And this can cause significant anxiety.

Don’t compare yourself to the 10-, 15-, and 20-year veterans in the field like I did. You will come up short every time. If you’re an intern, recognize and accept that you are qualified to be at that level. If you are in your first year of private practice, let yourself be at that level.

An important question to ask yourself is: “Are you sure it’s really fear?” Maybe it’s excitement.

You can reframe that fear into excitement. And you can garner that excitement to keep on going.

You may ask: “But shouldn’t we try to manage our anxiety and calm down?” Not really.

Recent studies are showing that reframing your anxiety into excitement is more effective than trying to calm yourself down. I mean, since when has being told to “calm down” really been effective when you were anxious?

Going from a state of fear and anxiety to calm and serene is a huge leap.

What about going from anxiety to excitement? You body feels very similar in these states, so it’s not a huge stretch.

In a study by the American Psychological Association, this notion was supported – and I quote: “People believe that trying to calm down is the best way to contend with pre-performance anxiety. However, across several experimental studies, I found that reappraising anxiety as excitement is more effective than trying to calm down.” End quote.

Here’s an example of reframing anxiety in action. I have a personal story that I think applies here. I was really nervous before my first grad school residency. Like so anxious that I didn’t even want to go.

My marriage and family therapy program required us to attend two residencies as a requirement for graduation. So, if I wanted to become a therapist, I had to go.

The residencies were 7 days long and the faculty assessed our readiness and proficiency related to our counseling skills during our stay. And there was a possibility of not “passing” the residency if your professor determined that you were “not ready” – which I completely understand because there is a standard related to gatekeeping in the counseling field.

Anyway, I had severe imposter syndrome and felt like I didn’t know anything. If any of you struggle with imposter syndrome, it is real and vicious! There’s no reasoning with it. Even with a 4.0 GPA, I still could not convince myself that I was “good enough” to get through the residency.

My anxiety was getting the best of me, so I intuitively tried something different. I convinced myself that I was excited about going to the residency. And this was all before I knew about the study I previously mentioned. When my classmates asked me if I was nervous about it, I replied with “No, not really. I’m looking forward to it”, or “Maybe a little, but I think it will be a great growth and learning opportunity”, and “I’m more excited than nervous.”

An amazing thing happened. The more I actually said that I was excited, not nervous, and was looking forward to the residency, the more it became a reality.

Give it a try and see if this strategy works for you.

As I conclude this topic, I want to give you a few suggestions for keeping fear at bay:

First, surround yourself with friends and colleagues who understand what you are going through and can offer both support and commiseration. It’s important to know that you are not alone.

Second, find role models in the field to look up to for guidance and inspiration, but be careful not to compare. It’s important to see where you can go with all of your hard work, dedication, and persistence.

And lastly, continue learning about private practice through podcasts, webinars, books, and other resources dedicated to helping you be successful on your journey.

During each episode I’ll be giving you one small take away, action step, or mindset shift. I call these acorns. Listen to Episode 0 to get the scoop on what the acorns are all about.

The acorn from this episode is to get curious about your fear. It’s probably not that scary if you really think about it. Kind of like David S. Pumpkins. For those of you who don’t know who he is, check the show notes for a link. It’s a Saturday Night Live skit with Tom Hanks that is absolutely hilarious. Watch it twice. The first time I saw it, I was like WTF. And the second time I watched it I couldn’t stop laughing. Just imagine your fear as David S. Pumpkins. You may have a few questions, but you’ll be over it in no time.

As I outlined in Episode 0, I’ll be alternating between a fun fact and ‘what I’m digging’ segment with each new episode.

The fun fact for this episode is that I love Tarot. I really enjoy the practical advice and wisdom I receive from such a mystical source.

I’m both a practical and mystical person. When I started my business – for far too long – I leaned too heavily on the practical. I focused too much on the “how to” and the “5 steps to do X in your business.” I was often left feeling disappointed and I felt as if something deeper and more significant was lacking.

This is in no way a bashing of the practical. I, myself, share with my clients practical ways to build their businesses all the time. It’s a necessity. However, when there is only a focus on the practical, something is sorely missing – at least it is for me.

I believe we need both. The combination of the practical and the mystical creates a magical result far greater than the sum of its parts.

I’ve always incorporated the magickal and mystical into my personal life, but somewhat neglected it in the earlier stages of my business. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was a little too out there for some people and I wondered what others would think. Or I had received messages that it didn’t belong in business.

No more will I neglect something that is so dear to my heart – as well as so necessary for my personal growth and development. If this mystical and magickal approach has helped so much with my personal growth and development, why wouldn’t I want that type of growth and development in my business?

Since incorporating both a practical and magickal approach to my business, I’ve been blown away by the change. It’s really hard to describe how it has impacted me, so I’m just going to throw some descriptive words out to try and capture something that is indescribable: insight, intuition, inner knowing, balance, calm, contentment, excitement, and joy.

I am now unapologetically practical and magickal in my business, and I couldn’t be happier.

In Forestmind, my membership mastermind program, we take a practical and magickal approach to business. I hope you’ll join us. Visit mountainpracticejourneys.com/forestmind/ for more information.

Thank you so much for joining me today on your private practice journey.

For episode 35 I’ll be chatting with Liz Gray of Organize & Thrive about overcoming challenges as a highly sensitive therapist in private practice.

In the meantime, join me over on instagram @mountainpracticejourneys

There’s no way you can know how much it means to me that you choose to join me here as I share all things related to private practice. Please subscribe so you don’t miss a step. For more information about this episode, please visit the show notes page at mountainpracticejourneys.com/podcast I truly appreciate you Trailblazers. Your mountain is within reach. Journey on.

I Want You To Be Successful In Business & In Life!

Starting, growing, and maintaining a business is a big deal. It's super-exciting and super-scary all at the same time. I created Mountain Practice Journeys to support you through the difficult and muddy terrain, and to celebrate with you when you have reached each summit of the many mountains you will conquer on your journey.

Happy Climbing, Cindy

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