Have you ever had moments of struggle as an entrepreneur and private practice owner?
Of course you have!
There are times when you’ve spent money on something that turns out to be a waste, or you worked really hard to book an engagement that fell through. Maybe client no-shows are rampant this week or clients are terminating early.
How are you responding in these tough moments?
As therapists, we are really good at helping our clients learn to cope with stress and accept their shortcomings. Yet we’re usually not great at showing ourselves the same compassion. We experience shame for charging our full fee, struggle to enforce no show policies, and beat ourselves up being vulnerable on social media.
In business, mistakes and failures are inevitable. But if you’re mean to yourself when you stumble or fall, you’re setting yourself up for future failure. As a business owner, you need strategies to move forward and deal with overwhelming situations in the moment.
But what does self-compassion look like? Many of you may be familiar with Dr. Kristin Neff’s work, in which she describes self-compassion as made up of three components:
- Treating yourself with kindness – Self-compassion begins with talking to yourself in a supportive way, with encouragement, sympathy, patience, and gentleness. Beating yourself up when something is less than ideal won’t help you; it takes you out of the present and distracts you from your goals.
- Recognizing our common humanity – When things aren’t falling into place in your private practice, it’s common to feel like something is wrong with you or start comparing yourself. But even “perfect” therapists had and still have moments of struggle. Recognizing that we all go through tough stuff can help you feel connected, understood, and human.
- Being mindful – We need to learn to acknowledge that we are facing something difficult and challenging without judgment. Pay attention to how you treat yourself in times of overwhelm and struggle and recognize that self-criticism escalates stress and is counter-productive.
Engaging in self-compassion has been shown to have a number of benefits, including less anxiety and depression, and increased resiliency. You’ll be able to move past failures much quicker and not let fear hold you back.
Here are a few exercises you can start using today:
- Replace your negative self-talk – Instead of “this client cancelled, I must be doing something wrong,” you can tell yourself “this experience is frustrating and stressful. I know how hard this moment is, and I’m sorry you’re going through it.” This keeps you from getting on what I call the “what if train” and catastrophizing the situation at hand.
- Gentle touch – Our brains are primed to respond to warmth and gentle touch, which is why new parents intuitively pat their babies backs and embrace them when they’re upset. It’s a little harder to get that comfort as an adult when you’re sitting in your office! But you can rub your arm, hug yourself, or pat your chest softly which allows your whole body to calm down and your brain to function more efficiently.
- Write a letter to yourself – When something stressful happens, write down your thought process and notice how it differs from how you would talk to a friend or client. Then write a letter to yourself from the perspective of an unconditionally compassionate and accepting friend. This will begin to open your eyes to the harsh way you speak to yourself during these times and show you how to be more kind.
- Use a mantra – It can be helpful to come up with a mantra, something short that you can repeat over and over without having to formulate it on the spot. It can be as simple as “this moment is hard, I’m facing a struggle, I’m not a failure, I can get through this.”
- Make a daily gratitude list – Every day write down 3-5 things you are grateful for, and what accomplishments you’ve made in your business. This can help you change your perspective and recognize that even in the face of mistakes, you’re able to have amazing things in your life and business.
Will engaging in these techniques mean that you’ll start running the perfect private practice and never make a mistake in your business or have a low financial month again? No. But they will help you get through these tough times feeling better and more confident as a therapist and entrepreneur.
We’d love to hear!
In the comments below, tell us how will you start showing yourself compassion today? What conversations do you notice that limit you and what are you doing to counteract them?