Click Into That Space of Listening
Activism. I’ll be honest, it’s the one thing about being a Homeopath that I didn’t expect to have to do. Because of my interests and (probably) my personality type, I’ve always been a bit of a lone wolf. I’ve never had to answer to anyone except my parents growing up, and when I choose to do something, I just do it. I don’t need approval, and until I started my practice, I didn’t need to defend or sell anything about me or my lifestyle or my choices. I just did good work, and that sold itself. I have been mostly self-employed since I was 19, and my soul-goals were always freedom and self-actualisation. There are lots of ways to achieve that. If any of the things I thought or did ruffled anybody’s feathers, I always had the luxury of shrugging my shoulders or walking away. It didn’t matter to me. To each his heart-felt own, and whatever someone else thinks or does is probably an interesting or valuable point of view. If the conversation did go sideways, my natural default position is “agree to disagree”. Or, if pressed, agree, walk away, and do whatever I want to do anyway. That’s me. Hold the mustard.
The “business” of homeopathy, however, is a completely different story. I’m a resource, I’m an authority, and I’m selling the concept of homeopathy almost all of the time. I’ve had some pretty aggressive comments and conversations, and over the years I have come to recognise this as part of the job – it’s still considered revolutionary health care – but it can be pretty hard on me. The constant controversy can land anywhere between tedious and insulting, which has never really mattered before because my thoughts have never been for sale – take them or leave them. Now though, they are definitely for sale; homeopathy is effectively a consultative practice, with a voluminous back-end. Because of this, I have spent a lot of time working on how to manage those interactions, and also how to meet those expectations of the job in a way that is not the throwing up of arms, the ending of discussions, or the agreeing to smooth out an argument – so much of what people do to themselves should be illegal. When I act that way, my business suffers because I am not trustworthy. Whether they know it or not consciously, people feel that. I’m not giving them what they expect from a business owner (a, yes I can) or a traditional health care practitioner (also a, yes I can).
For that reason, I have taught myself over the years to be really deliberate about the bits of information that I contribute to a personal conversation. I have a kind of engagement policy, and I have default answers to some of the common questions already planned out. I don’t generally discuss the mechanics of homeopathic medicine anymore, and I try to stay aware of what the other person is actually wanting out of the conversation. Do they want to know about me in a personal and social way? Are they asking because they find it interesting to them on a personal level? Are they looking for a political debate where they look smart? Are they asking because they are researching for themselves or a loved one? Or, are they asking to meet with me professionally? I tailor my explanations to meet what they are looking for, because it’s good for business. It means they are not met with conflict or no; homeopathy is not a placebo. They are not left with a feeling of uncertainty – frankly, much of the time the answer to a question is legitimately “it depends.” They are not met with the feeling of condescension – homeopathy is pretty cerebral stuff (until you start using it, then it’s bone simple; speaking of shameless plugs). And most importantly, I am not positioned in such a way where I am not enjoying the conversation, thus pushing people away. The truth about any business – especially the consultative ones – is that word of mouth travels better when the business owner is likable. The information I give is not as memorable as the feeling people get when they are around me.
So how does this relate to activism? Well, it’s two-fold. My big picture job is to help people – and to me that is practitioners in business and also the public who would like to use homeopathy as a wellness option. that “feeling” I give people is definitely my biggest form of activism. I see how important this is, inside and outside, of my community of practitioners, business owners, and potential patients and the public. We are taught by social media to sell our products and services at all costs, to “respect the hustle” and to always serve our target market. We are taught by Google herself that information is king, that every one is looking to gain the highest level of information. Those of us in the business of health, marinate in these inferences which connect very deeply to the feelings and impulses that go hand in hand with the calling to help people be well – in any modality. It creates a sort of mania where we (the practitioner) is pushing. pushing, pushing information, and so often to the point of repulsion. It’s like magnets repelling. In the practical, this is a disconnection between two people, where neither gets what they want – attention.
What if instead, we could click into that space of listening? What if homeopatic practitioners (business owners) listened to what their potential patients needed, past their own needs of spreading the word of a high-minded and precise medicine? Suddenly, “that depends” becomes a conversation starter, rather than a conversation ender. The amazing thing about homeopathy – and Homeopaths – is that it is a precise practice of totality. It’s a real-life paradox, the still point in the chaos. We may not be able to ascertain the correct remedy to treat a person we meet at a party, but we can certainly send them home with a recommendation to change something easy in their lives to support with their bodies. We can send them home with a feeling of connection, and of having been heard. We can send them home with a change that can empower them – versus feeling out of control and maybe even terrified. We can send them home with hope.
So, this is what I do. I don’t protest. I don’t berate anyone for their food choices. I don’t tell them how their dis-ease is totally treatable in other countries. I definitely don’t tell them how there is a good chance it’s a pharmaceutical side-effect (shameless plug #2), and I don’t refuse to talk to them if they drink coffee or smoke cigarettes. My activism is to listen, determine how I can best connect with them, and if possible something they can do on their own to make themselves “better”, something easy. In my heart, I feel the most important thing in the care of others, is to leave them with the feeling of being heard, that the other person in the conversation cared if they were there at all. That’s an essential nutrient of human interaction. Activism.
Written by: Adrienne Yeardye; Alive Homeopathy