It’s time for a new book!
I have decided to focus my second book on the topic of Financial Abuse/Exploitation. It is a very covert part of hidden abuse and one that is not discussed nearly enough.
The foundation of this book will be survivor stories. We learn and grown with one another. Financial abuse is a topic that must come out of the shadows and into the light so more people can know they are not alone.
Financial abuse and exploitation can occur as an entrepreneur, within families, among friends and within places of worship.
To anonymously participate in the research segment of this project, please click on the link below. Your time, honesty and generosity are appreciated more than you can know – Shannon
This last year of entrepreneur life has been a whirlwind and there are many words I could use to describe the past twelve months. Some that I have used are wonderful, fulfilling, blessed and one that kept coming out of mouth was squeezed. I have found myself saying that word because I was experiencing the feeling of being squished in from different sides. But why? I love what I have created in my professional life. I love all of it. Every last detail, so why would the word squeezed keep coming to mind?
Therapists have a tendency (at least I do) to “therapize” ourselves and probably over-analyze our own thoughts and behaviors. While I was recently trying to understand how a career that I love so much was also causing some level of discomfort, it finally dawned on me. You know those moments when the answers flood in and you hear yourself saying something like, “Of course! That makes complete sense.” What was the root of this epiphany that I had about the word squeezed?
It’s that my two main entrepreneur brands compete with one another and as they collide, I am the middle point of contact. Ouch. No wonder.
The Two Brands
What are my two brands? I am the owner and lead therapist of an award-winning counseling practice, and I wrote a best-selling book. Both my work as a therapist and the book focus on the recovery from the types of abuses people don’t usually notice happening around them. The hidden poison of psychological abuse. Heavy topic, right? But I absolutely love the work I get to do; both in private practice and in writing the book. So how would these two squeeze together with me in the middle? It centers on the concepts of micro versus macro. The small reach and the large message.
The small reach
I officially opened the counseling agency in 2009. I took my final license exam April 1, 2009 and the doors of my practice opened May 1, 2009. I am not a wait-around-and-think-about-things type of gal. I had two years of finishing my professional license to ponder and twiddle my business thumbs. I was ready for entrepreneur life and passing the exam gave me free rein to go after it. From the beginning I knew I wanted to build what is known as a “boutique” counseling practice. Keep it small, don’t take insurance and the clients get the privacy of not having to go through office staff to make an appointment. When clients call, they get me. I do all my own phone calls, scheduling and follow up. There isn’t the experience of a crowded waiting room full of people to see one of many therapists in the same office. No secretary calling back to schedule and the first point of contact with me finally happening at the appointment. I dislike that model very much.
The owner of a boutique counseling practice is intentional in keeping things from feeling like a medical office. It is created to be an experience that feels like going to chat with a close friend, but with all the healthy professional ethics and boundaries firmly in place. I purposefully started and have fought to keep my counseling agency small enough to stay quaint and full of personal attention. I have no plans to ever change from that model.
The large message.
Now enter in my second brand. My book. I launched the book almost one year ago today and it has done better in sales than I ever could have imagined. It has been a best-seller on Amazon, featured in international news and lifestyle press, audio rights acquired and released by a well-known publisher, and our first international translation is slated to be released this fall. Side note: the first language translation will be in Italian so I am unabashedly jockeying my family to book a trip to Rome and Naples next spring so we can go visit the publisher. Sounds like a great excuse to see Italy!
With the launch of the book, my message about healing from hidden abuse (also the title of the book) has gone literally around the world. At www.healingfromhiddenabuse.com we maintain a list of available book studies. The list currently has 118 book studies in 8 countries, including 37 U.S. states. Press coverage about the book and my work has been featured in outlets like Business Insider, Teen Vogue, Bustle, Romper, PsychReg and PsychCentral. I will be a featured speaker at the national #NoMeanGirls conference October 2017. I even had to hire a publicist and am truly blessed to have Bolt Public Relations (Dallas) join me in the quest to spread awareness about healing from hidden abuse. I couldn’t maximize the reach without the incredible Bolt women. There are many other macro aspects to the book, but you get a glimmer of what has gone on this year. It has taken my breath away at times; both in excitement and exhaustion.
Small reach versus large message. That is where my two brands collide. The look and feel of a boutique practice and the international exposure as a genre author. I am the center point in which these two meet. The word squeezed makes a little more sense. My dilemma as a entrepreneur who loves both brands is how to maintain these two competing worlds.
What is my point in sharing this with you; besides using this space as my own form of therapy to see it all in typed words? The actual main point is that I am 100% I am not alone in feeling like two aspects of life collide, even though you may love both. Where can we see this happening? Marriage, parenting, work, or any other environment where we find ourselves squeezed by different demands. What are we to do to thrive through the pressure?
After the launch of the book and the speed at which it took off, I had to quickly assess where my daily work life priorities were going to be. We all have a limited amount of capacity and must make decisions about what will get our first fruits of energy. For me, that lies with my counseling clients. That does not describe the people who email asking questions, or even calling in for an appointment. In the world of therapy, a client is someone who has filled out their necessary paperwork, come to the first appointment and we both have decided to continue in the therapeutic relationship. A client is not someone who emails asking questions. A client is not even someone making an appointment. The therapist/client relationship and professional obligations start after the first appointment.
As you assess the collision of two competing interests in your life, what will be the priority that will receive your first efforts? Write it down somewhere. Remind yourself that you have chosen to make this area your focus. We do this so when other things come creeping into the schedule, it can serve as a grounding point to get back to business.
Since my true clients are my first professional priority, I had to figure out how to set boundaries so I could meet my obligations to real life, in-office clients. One area that helped with boundary setting was to establish an auto-reply on my work email. The word “inundated” does not even begin to describe what my in-box turned into after the launch of the book. Since I had established a boutique counseling practice, I did not have the assistant infrastructure in place to help me manage the new workload. Since I love owning a small counseling agency, I have no interest in changing my business model to fit the demands of others. Some emails are really nice. Some are really mean. Some are just weird and real weird ones are reported to law enforcement. I waste no time with nonsense. The auto-reply has helped me tremendously in sorting through the emails from true clients, those that are looking for more information and those who want to be ugly to me via email. The auto-reply gives all the necessary information of what next steps people can take. This boundary has helped me beautifully.
Now that you have established your priority, what boundaries need to put in place to help you stay focused on what is most important?
Stay humble and authentically grateful
I strongly believe in the mind/body connection and the power of what we put out into the world with our attitude. Just because we might be going through a time of success, does not mean it will last indefinitely. Actually most things do not. Everything is a season and we must embrace, love, enjoy and be really present in the good moments. Even though I have felt squeezed at times this last year, I quickly felt the overwhelm but then replaced it with soul touching gratitude. I am lucky to do what I do. Sure some days are busy and I need more coffee than is probably healthy, but it is a season. I want to embrace it and feel every moment. There will be a day for retirement, but that day is not today so I will enjoy as much of the roller coaster now as I can!
What will help you remind yourself to not take your season for granted, thinking it will last forever? What can you do to fully appreciate where you are right now?
My hope is that you can enjoy being squeezed by things in your life and learn to recognize them, set limits and embrace every moment!
Keep dreaming big.
“Welcome to The Mental Breakdown and Psychreg Podcast! Today, Dr. Berney and Dr. Marshall have the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Shannon Thomas, a licensed clinical social work supervisor, the owner and lead therapist of an award-winning private practice-counseling agency in Southlake, Texas and best-selling author of ‘Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse.'”
“Shannon Thomas discusses her important book about something ugly, hidden, and difficult to describe. Psychological abuse. How is it possible that one person can gain so much power to destroy another person’s sense of worth, safety, and sanity? Shannon tells you how, but more importantly, she gives you a roadmap that helps you wake up, break free, heal, and rebuild what feels like your shattered life.”
I know what love-bombing is
I know what idealizing means
I know that “gaslighting” was not just a movie
I know where “hoovering” gets its name
I know what it’s like to be “projected” on
I know that being “mirrored” doesn’t involve an actual mirror
I know what it’s like to be lied to
I know what it’s like to feel trapped
I know and have experienced being “hollowed”
I know and can recognize “flying monkeys”
I know what “intermittent reinforcement” is
I know what it feels like to be devalued
I know what it feels like to be disrespected
I know what it feels like to not be cherished
I know what it’s like to be criticized and condemned
I know what it’s like to be spoken to in a condescending tone
I know what it feels like to be emotionally abandoned
I know what it’s like to see my children witness psychological abuse
I know what it’s like to not do anything right no matter how hard you try
I know that a “smear campaign” happens outside of the political arena
I know that drama isn’t always on stage
I know what a lack of empathy in a person looks like
I know that life-sucking vampires really exist
I know what it’s like to see a toddler in a grown man’s body
I know that “discard” has nothing to do with a deck of cards
I know how important “NO CONTACT” is
I know that at times “detached contact” is best
I know what boundaries are and that they were completely disregarded
I know that abuse doesn’t always leave scars and bruises
I know what it’s like to see evil in human form
I know that “Jekyl and Hyde” is not just a great musical
I know what a “mask” is and have seen it taken on and off
I know what codependency is and realized I became one
I know what “covert” and “overt” are
I know what it feels like to “walk on egg-shells”
I know what it feels like to think you’re going crazy
I know that “triangulating” is not a symbol played in music class
I know what it feels like to stop trusting people
I know what it feels like to be skeptical of everyone
I know what it feels like to be anxious all of the time
I know what it feels like to be isolated and alone
I know what it’s like to be controlled
I know what it’s like to want to be perfect
I know what it feels like to be a puppet on a string
I know when my prayers changed
I know what it feels like to break free
I know what it feels like to climb out of the pit of despair
I know what it feels like to trust my judgement again
I know what it feels like to educate myself on what I’ve experienced
I know what it feels like to peel back painful but necessary layers of healing
I know what it feels like to not be consumed with anxiety
I know what it feels like to smile
I know what joy feels like when it enters your soul again
I know what it feels like to spend time with my family and friends again
I know what it feels like to restore my relationship with my children
I know and have witnessed my children healing from psychological abuse
I know what it’s like to be independent again and financially not tied to anyone
I know what it’s like to care for my well-being
I know what it’s like to not be depressed
I know what it feels like to be hopeful for mine and my kids future
I know what it’s like to exercise and eat right
I know what it feels like to breathe again
I know what it’s like to not allow a person to signify my worth and beauty
I know what strength and courage look like
I know what it’s like to learn to love again
I know that God loves me…no matter what
I know I can be healed
I know I can be redeemed
I know I can be restored
I know I am a daughter of the Most High
I know I don’t worry about people judging me
I know I no longer judge people who are in/or have been in toxic relationships
I know I no longer judge anyone who chooses divorce
I know I have been there
I know someone needs to hear my story…BEAUTY FROM ASHES
Pass it on….