In my work with clients I often teach them the three components of Mindful Self-Compassion. This is based on the work of Kristin Neff and her book “Self-Compassion”. The intention is that by being kind to yourself, you can have a better quality of life and manage difficult emotions. In keeping with my practice of not asking anyone to try something I haven’t done myself, I have used the method to help manage the challenges that come with starting a private practice and being an entrepreneur. Below are the three components of Mindful Self-Compassion and how you can apply them to the emotions and struggles that come up as part of starting a private practice.
Self-Kindness vs. Self-Judgement
When setting out to own your own business, and wanting it to be successful, self-judgement can come up. Fear of failure and feelings of not doing enough, not being enough, or not having enough are sometimes at the root of self-judgement. The desire to be successful can lead to looking at other people who appear to be successful for guidance or inspiration. However, it can also be a trap to comparison that can serve to fuel the feeling of ‘not being enough’. This can be seen in thoughts related to why you don’t have as many clients, why you don’t have as many referrals, or why you aren’t making a particular amount of money. What I call the ‘shame monster’ can follow leading to an inner dialogue of all the ways you are inadequate.
Being gentle and kind to ourselves can serve as an antidote for all of the above, if we are willing to observe our thoughts and feelings. Noticing the negative self-talk and criticism is a cue to actively be kind to ourselves. Being kind to ourselves involves talking to ourselves like we would a good friend. With compassion, warmth, and understanding. Developing this kind voice can start with the following steps:
- Identify when you are being self-critical
A self-critical thought may be, “you are terrible at this, you are never going to make it”, or “this is too hard you are going to fail”.
- Soften the critical voice
A response to the critical voice may be, “I know you are trying to motivate me, but this hurts and it isn’t helping”, or “I know you are trying to protect me from the pain of failure, but this judgment isn’t helping. Please stop causing me pain”.
- Re-frame the observations of your inner critic
You may say something to yourself like “I’m so sorry you are afraid you are going to fail, it’s understandable. But look at all you have done up to this point”, or “I’m sorry this is really hard, I know you do good work and are working hard”.
Common Humanity vs. Isolation
Sometimes in our struggle or suffering we can feel alone or isolated and it can intensify unpleasant emotions. Feeling and recognizing we are not alone and are connected to others can ease the intensity of the experience and help us connect to compassion rather than self-pity. The idea being that “we are in this together”. I touch on this in my article on “How To Work Through The Fear Of Starting a Private Practice”.
If you don’t have family or people readily available to help reinforce this feeling for connectedness, it can be helpful to practice bringing it in to yourself.
Some ways to bring the feeling of connection in to yourself are:
- Self-talk, telling yourself:
- “You are not alone”
- “There are other people who feel this way too”
- “We all have suffering”
- “I understand how you feel”
- Compassionate touch:
- Place a hand over your heart and feel the warmth of your hand
- Try gently rubbing your arms
- Give yourself a hug or try squeezing one hand with the other with the intention of feeling support
- You can also offer yourself a loving-kindness meditation, such as:
- May I be happy and healthy
- May I be peaceful and at ease
- May I be safe
Mindfulness is defined as observing what is, in the present moment, without judgement.
By improving mindfulness skills in our daily life, we can improve it in relation to ourselves. How we are feeling at a given moment, where we feel it in our body, and if there are any messages we are sending ourselves. By increasing awareness, through mindfulness, we will know when we need self-compassion.
Developing a mindfulness practice of being fully present in the moment can begin with simply observing daily activities. For example, if you are washing a dish, notice how the sponge feels compared to the dish. The sensation of the water or soap on your hands, any smells that may come from the soap or the dish you are washing, and what you see, i.e.: colors/ shapes/ textures. What do you hear? Is the water running, splashing etc.? Essentially, using all five senses to be fully present in the moment.
Through the practice of the three components of self-compassion, we can ease any struggle and step out of a story we may be telling ourselves. By doing so we will also have more space for our clients and tools to help them in moments of struggle.
To learn more about mindful self-compassion contact me at 203-871-1540.
Tara is a licensed professional counselor, licensed alcohol and drug counselor and certified yoga teacher. She has worked in behavioral health for over 16 years and currently has a private practice in West Hartford, CT. Her writing has been featured in Wallingford Connecticut Magazine, she is a contributing writer on practiceofthepractice.com, TODAY Parenting Team ǀ today.com and she is a regular contributing guest on Radio 103.5FM WNHH “The Culture Cocktail Hour”. Having learned from personal experience she is passionate about helping women heal from the past and embrace their future. To find out more about Tara visit:
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