One of the most potent things I have found, both in my training and with my clients, is the utmost importance of self-care. For every acute problem, every chronic stress, every relationship explosion, cancer diagnosis, loathed job or existential crisis, self-care comes up again and again as not just the most important, but the very first thing that needs doing.
This is true not just for my clients, but for me, and other practitioners. As they say, you’ve gotta make sure your own oxygen mask is secure before helping others. And as the Rubenfeld principle goes, self care is the first step to client care. And, lest we forget that other principle: each client is ultimately responsible for his or her own healing.
So it’s not all that surprising that when a client tells me something difficult, and I can feel my mirror neurons firing and my shoulders tightening, my breath growing shallow…the first thing I need to do, before I can even respond, is to check my own breath, my own body, return to my center, and respond from there. If I do anything else, I put myself in it with them. And, as anyone who has had someone so upset over something that happened to you that you ended up taking care of them knows, nothing good can come of that.
In my own continuing therapeutic journey, I’ve recently been introduced to Oasis in the Overwhelm, a little book by ex-Catholic nun, nightclub singer, type A go-getter, and Rubenfeld Synergist Millie Grenough. Its essential core is four 60-second strategies for re-centering and calming yourself, basically at any time and place.
I already have a number of strategies that I use for this, and I pass them on to my clients when I feel they are needed. And of course there are more involved self-care pieces: working out more, eating better, getting enough sleep – all those things that your doctor is always telling you to do.
But for people who want solutions that they can learn quickly and use anywhere…I have to say that this is pretty fabulous. Once I internalize them myself, I will definitely be incorporating them into my practice. Hint: they involve stretching, breathing, checking in with your body, and focusing on an object of comfort.
Go check it out.