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When Real Estate Professionals Need Therapy

I am married to a top producing real estate professional. She has been in the business for 25 years. She has seen huge interest rates, inventory issues, and other difficulties. She has seen the ups and downs of real estate markets. However, she has never experienced anything to date that compares with what she is going through now. Real estate is more difficult than it ever has been. Not just from the stand point of selling and buying, but from the stand point of the mental state of many sellers and buyers.

A year ago I spoke at the Certified Distressed Property Expert Conference in Arizona on the Emotional Tsunami that is being experienced by home sellers. As a result of all the economic stress being put on people today, we are seeing people lose their homes, personal property, marriages, and families. This type of stress has forced people to give up in many cases a portion of their dream for themselves as well as their families. Today’s real estate professional has been put in a position of becoming a therapist not just a real estate intermediary.

I have watched my wife day after day come home emotionally drained as she vicariously experiences the emotional extremes of potential clients who must sell or leave their homes. She comes home sad, tired, hurt, and frustrated because of the position many sellers are in and the feelings of helplessness she has for them as she witnesses the loss of a home, self esteem, self worth, family and relationships. She witnesses the sellers depression, sadness, and anger. It is difficult for her to not bring it home, because she takes it personally. She wants to bring positive solutions to a negative problem, however in this economic emotional climate she at times feels helpless. Sadly she is not alone. I have consulted and spoke with many real estate professionals who are experiencing the exact same feelings and situations. I am sure you have more than likely experienced a type of emotional identification with your clients. It doesn’t just go away. What do ypu do with it? Bring it home? Take it out on your staff? Another client? Your spouse? Family? Significant other? As frequently as you have became therapist for your clients, you are in need of therapy and may not realize it.

Let me just say that this is not a substitute for seeing a professional therapist. However, if you are not comfortable with that type of setting then there are some things you can do to help yourself.

1. Take a emotional inventory of YOU

You need to really check in with yourself. You can become affected and not even realize it. You may be experiencing grief and not even know it. Remember the first step of grief is denial. You could be in the early stages. It will help to ask someone you trust to be completely honest with you about your verbal and non verbal behavior, if you cannot see it yourself. Some questions to ask: Are you feeling more sad than normal? Have you felt like your always tired? Are you dreading going into the office? Are you anxious about meeting with another seller? Have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy(and by the way this includes sex)? Have you been speaking more negatively? Have you become more demanding? Have you been a little more on edge? Are your relationships strained? The first step in any process is to recognize that you may be dealing with issues of your own. If you are experiencing issues it will make it more difficult to work with a client, not to mention everyday life.

2. Talk, Write, Talk

Find someone you trust. You may want to go to a professional therapist, however, research has demonstrated that someone who will truly listen can be helpful. I have found that sometimes a spouse is not always the best choice, because the truth is you have pulled her or him in the emotional cesspool with you and your both drowning. Also, it is more difficult for them to see the forest for the trees. You may need more than one person. You need to get it out. You need to hear yourself talk out loud. Many times just saying out loud can bring some relief and it can bring clarity.

Write down your feelings and emotions. Describe your experiences. Journal it. This can be helpful in the short term, however, in the long term it is more beneficial because one day when you have come through all of your emotion you can look back at your journal just see how far you have come.

Talk about it some more. Talk with other real estate professionals. They can be in your area or maybe in another state. You will find you are not alone. There can be great relief that you are not as alone as you think you are. I have found that many real estate agents go home to their families only to feel like their own families do not understand them and they feel very alone. It is very difficult for the family to comprehend what you are really dealing with on an everyday basis. Knowing that someone else can relate can reduce the feelings of loneliness that you are experiencing which can give you a sense of confidence you can make it.

3. Schedule longer breaks between listing appointments and debrief

Many times I find that real estate professionals stack their listing appointments. Bad idea. You need time to give your body and emotions a break. Schedule breaks between listing appointments so that you can have some time to regather your emotional state. Debrief yourself or with someone in your office. Discuss what just happened. Discuss what you are feeling. Get it out. We do a horrible job of debriefing ourselves. If you deal with it right away you are carrying less with you into your next appointment and less likely to bring it home.

4. Take time to do some physical activity.

Notice I did not same “make” time. No one can “make” time. You must “take” the time. You need to “take” the time for some physical activity. It could be time in the gym, running, biking, doing an in home workout, play a sport, just make sure you are getting some physical activity. Getting your body better can help make you think more clearly and releases chemicals in your brain that can make you feel happier and better.

5. Eat and Drink well.

We are a food and drink culture. However, we can be comforted by food. Watch out for that. The next thing you know you are eating garbage. If you are using garbage as fuel, what can you expect to come out? Yep, garbage. Also, watch yourself when it comes to drinking especially alcoholic beverages. Keep in mind alcohol is a “depressant”. If you are already depressed or have depressive symptoms you could be making things worse. Besides, if you are trying to drink your problems away, you may forget for the night, but you wake up with the same problems tomorrow.

6. Three positives before you go home

Before you leave the office write down three positive things that happened to you that day. No matter how bad a day is there are always good and positive things that happen to us. Maybe it was an unexpected phone call, letter, email, facebook comment, or the fact that you are alive and healthy, or you have someone who loves and cares about you. Before you leave your office focus on finishing your day with positives not the negative. If you will get in the habit of doing this and focus on the positives you will find that your attitude will change about your office, your family, and you.

This is not an exhaustive list. However, hopefully you can take something here that you can apply to your life in a positive way. Let’s face it your only human and we need you healthy!

4 thoughts on “When Real Estate Professionals Need Therapy”

  1. Jay
    My husband and I were there in Arizona… I was very impressed with what you had to say. We have been in the business over 21 years and agree, never seen it like this. This article speaks directly to me….thanks..I needed to hear it. So many other agents I talk to, seem to not take it home as I do. For several months I had not gone to the gym as usual because we have been so busy with work. I now work out at home, seems to work with my schedule better. Makes me feel much better. Something I have done just in the past couple weeks; I have always prided myself in being able to multi task. I am conciously making an effort to NOT to multi task. One of the best things I have done. Yes, I take on my clients troubles…. I can’t wait for this whole mess we are in to end.
    Peggy Pierce

    1. Peggy,

      Thank you for sharing. Many agents do not even realize the situation they have put themselves in. They do not realize that they are bringing their clients home. I really hope that you will find ways to turn yourself inside out so that even in the midst of all the “stuff” you can be as healthy as you can be. Feel free to share the article. Great to hear from you!

      Jay

  2. Jay,
    Very well written. I like the idea of citing 3 positives before leaving for the day. Positive energy is a muscle and that sounds like a great excercise to make it stronger. Thanks for sharing and I will pass it along!

    1. Internet Doctor

      It’s a classical conditioning exercise. Very Pavlovian. If you will condition yourself to positives at the end of the day you will go home better and you will like going to work.

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