We had the good fortune of connecting with Shameela Keshavjee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shameela, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I used to try to balance everything else important in my life with work. That just made work the priority and resulted in a lot of frustration, unmet needs, and fatigue. Then I had a therapist tell me: “You’re smart enough to know that balance doesn’t exist.”
And that’s when I let go of the idea that balance had to look a certain way. It’s not 50% work, 50% everything else. Balance changes from one day to the next, and I have to be intentional about creating it. I also have to be intentional about listening to what I need during any given day or week. I have to ask myself: “how many clients can I see this week and still prioritize other important parts of my life?”
I had to learn to view my creative projects, my relationships, and my self-care as just as important as my career, so that I could allow myself to make time for them. Once I did, I started to enjoy my life more.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I work with people to strengthen the relationships they have with themselves so they can strengthen their relationships with the ones they love. While I don’t agree that you have to “love yourself before you can love someone else,” I do know that the degree to which you love yourself impacts the love you will be able to accept into your life. So I focus heavily on helping people recognize their own worth, which often dispels any fear of intimacy and replaces it with an improved ability to express love. When you know that you’re loved and that you deserve love, you can be more loving. I like to take a practical approach, tailoring my interventions to fit the specific needs of each couple or individual with whom I meet. I try to be effective and efficient, identifying the source of the disconnection, emotional turbulence, or conflict, and addressing it head on.
Skill-building is a priority for me. I want you to feel confident in your ability to communicate, connect with others, and cope with distress. What I’m most proud of is guiding people to be more clear and vivid with each other about how they feel. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch people move toward each other after feeling alone for so long.
Getting to where I am today has been fraught with challenges. Difficult work environments and unsupportive management took a toll on my motivation and well-being. If not for my colleagues, I’m not sure where I would be now. When things felt too hard to continue, we helped each other stay positive. They saw the value in my work as a therapist and reminded me why I was an asset to the field of mental health. The lesson here is that relationships really are the cornerstone of a life well lived.
My friends, colleagues, and family are the reason I keep going. I take relationships very seriously. We can survive alone, but we can only thrive when we are connected to others. This belief is the foundation upon which my therapy practice is built. I want my clients to feel secure in my relationship with them and with others in their lives. From that security comes growth. When you feel grounded and stable, you can live an open, fulfilling, and joyful life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love how each town or neighborhood within DFW is creating its own character and charm. You don’t have to go all the way to downtown Dallas to enjoy great live music and delicious food. You can find a fun time in Coppell at The Sound at Cypress Waters or in Argyle at Marty B’s or on the square in Denton. I would head to Dallas, though, for a musical or performance at the Winspear or the Music Hall at Fair Park.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Charles Davies, Adam Coffey, Jocelyn Kendall, Amy Crain, Miranda George, Felicia Fortner, and Teresa Gardner have all offered me an incredible amount of support and motivation in all the endeavors of my life and career.
Charles Davies Lightbox Photography by Teresa Gardner