We had the good fortune of connecting with Natacha Nelson DC, MA and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natacha, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
I love this question. When I think back on my career as a Doctor and professional athlete, even role as parent and friend, one of the most important lessons for me to learn was discerning when to dig deep and push through the barrier and when to let go. As an athlete, its normal to push harder, do a little more, develop the discipline to feel uncomfortable, lay it all on the court in the pursuit of the win. I took this mentality into private practice for years, always pushing beyond my comfort zone. Only when my body collapsed in complete exhaustion, did I realize I pushed too hard. When my body made me stop, I took the opportunity to learn, to understand. In being completely honest with myself, I could identify the exact moments I pushed when I should have stopped. I felt obligated to continue working, when my heart yearned to be home with my newborn. I could have scaled back, but fear consumed me. Fear of losing my practice, my income, everything I had worked 15 years to build. The fear of slowing down, being “unproductive” ,becoming irrelevant in my field, made me create a schedule and work at a pace that was unsustainable. My heart spoke to me, even in pregnancy. I chose to override what IT was telling me. I forced myself to continue working, trying to be the superwoman I felt I needed to be. Because that is what I had learned was “good/right/admirable/successful” When I was able to physically return to work, I opted for a smaller office for home life balance. Soon, It was clear, my way of operating life was not going to work. The unsettled feelings were always present. Knowing better than to force myself to “make it work”, I gave myself permission to explore the uncomfortable feelings. I still worked, but woke up early to journal. I realized I had come to the place where it was time to let go of owning and operating a private practice. What I wanted was to shift gears and go back to school, specifically a Masters Program in Spiritual Psychology. I felt so afraid of working part time to go to school, especially as a single mother. Yet, when I spoke of school, I smiled. My heart lit up with the surge of energy of desire to move in a different direction. Six years from that momentous decision to listen, I own and operate my business as a Mental Health Consultant, specializing in Addiction, Anxiety and Depression. I think about the direction my heart was calling to me. Had I continued to force my way instead of listen, I would not have been in a position to work from home while me and my 12 year old daughter quarantined for the year during Covid pandemic. It’s as if my heart knew in advance and was guiding me, preparing me for something beyond my vision. So when to keep going versus when to give up? When your heart says, “it’s time”, you’ll feel it. The feeling can be, “there’s nothing left to learn here”, or, “my heart wants to be elsewhere”. To override is to force. When you push through a workout, or the project in from of you, you should feel delight in its completion. If you feel emotionally or spiritually exhausted, and “over it”, you are. It’s time to let go.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I like to say, my career took the scenic route. Sophomore year I developed an addiction that ultimately led to academic dismissal, losing my scholarship. What I am most proud of was the grit and resilience I found to start over, and still become a successful doctor and athlete. After 15 years, I made the decision to go back to school and start a new career as a Mental Health Consultant, specializing in Addiction, Anxiety, Depression. My most important career decision was to write a book. A very personal, tell all book. Yes, I published all my failures and faults along with my successes. In “Finding Courage to Let YOU Out” I write: Have you ever looked at your life and wondered, “How the F**k did I end up here?” Have you felt the inner conflict of your head pulling you one way, and your heart luring you another, uncertainty and the unknown keeping you stuck? “Finding the Courage to Let YOU Out” takes you on a journey to the center of human emotions. Honestly examines the pain of addiction, depression, anxiety, guilt, and shame. Revealing ways we keep ourselves tethered to a life we may have outgrown. “Finding the Courage to Let YOU Out” explores the influence of family, friends, society, circumstances we are born in and those we create. Brining clarity to choices made when emotional and mental worlds collide. While we cannot change the past, or undo what’s been done, We can make peace with choices made, actions taken, and behaviors expressed. We can learn to connect the dots of past events, neutralize the emotional charge , and minimize their influence in the present. We can learn to trust, allowing our most Authentic Self to guide us, to decisions more in alignment with a fulfilling way of being. In “Finding the Courage to Let YOU Out,” we explore what it means to be human; our human NESS and our human MESS, struggling to find the courage and confidence to show up in the world as the person we are meant to Be. My Emotional Literacy and Intelligence courses and coaching is different because of personal experiences and willingness to share. I believe, learning how to navigate uncomfortable feelings and discern inherent information is vital to respond in any situation, instead of react.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To the amazing friends that show up in ways I didn’t know I needed. To my Hermosa Beach Volleyball crew, where the sand box doesn’t care. And the USM Community for holding space of unconditional love to navigate being human.
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Chris Perry, Monique Feil