Because of my personal life experiences and the many years I've spent working with other people, I've developed an intuition and instinct about others' emotional states. I can touch someone and say, "Okay, what's going on?" I'm not psychic, but I can detect when there is pain in someone—when I'm in tune with my client, I can feel what she feels.
For example, one woman came into my clinic with the worst cystic acne I've ever seen in my life. She was so congested that every single pore had become infected, and she had terrible scarring as well. She came to me after a doctor had put her on a cocktail of topical and internal drugs. My team and I got her off the drugs; and with treatments, products, and lifestyle changes, we cleared her skin in three months. But after some time, another cystic infection emerged on her lower cheek. We were both really concerned because this wasn't your average kind of acne.
I sat her down and said, "Let's talk." It took a while, but I finally found out what was going on with her. It turned out that her job had been really stressful because there was someone she didn't get along with, and this had brought up other issues in her life. My client ended up quitting her job, and her acne immediately went away. This is where I teach my clients to connect the dots and figure out the issues that might be triggering their skin problems.
Many times during my career, facials have doubled as therapy sessions—for my clients and for me. Looking back, I can see that one of the reasons I felt so at home in this profession was because it was like a healthy home came to me. Many of my clients were older women around my mom's age, and since I didn't have a functioning mother to actively support my life and my growth, these women played that role. We developed close, meaningful relationships: they encouraged and supported me—like my own mother never could—and I nurtured them, both by caring for their skin and helping to restore their confidence and sense of self through my touch and treatments. I could never help my mom, but I could help these women. It's almost like I've had hundreds of mothers over the years! And some of these women have followed me throughout my career and have stuck by my side. (One of them, Martha Kramer, is a very special client who actually helped me buy my first laser.)
If I've learned anything over the years, it's this: We have to take time for ourselves. If we constantly do things for others and never focus on ourselves, it will tear us down. I have a friend who's a marriage counselor, and she reinforced something that I instinctively knew. She said, "Take care of yourself first—make sure your spirit is healthy. Next, make sure that your relationship with your spouse is healthy. Then you can take care of your children." It's not so much an "order of importance," it's simply a formula that seems to be true because harmony results. If we don't love ourselves, we won't be happy, and that will affect our relationships. If we're arguing constantly with our spouse, the children feel it, and it will be very painful for them. I know—I've been the little girl on the other side of those arguments.
Next: Emotional clues to watch out for