Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: May 2024

To Err is Human ... To Forgive Yourself is Heroic

Did you ever notice how naturally we feel compassion for others but rarely for ourselves? Society teaches us to hold ourselves to impossible standards, keeping all the balls in the air at all times. We are often so quick to admonish ourselves for our mistakes, shortcomings, and failures, afraid to show any signs of weakness or getting caught up in negative thought cycles. Why is it so hard to show ourselves the same compassion we offer to a friend who's struggling?

We all struggle and we all make mistakes. It's time to accept that we are imperfect humans and show ourselves the same compassion we give others. This means that we show up for ourselves with kindness and understanding, especially when we feel inadequate.

Research reveals why cultivating self-compassion is vital to our physical, mental, and emotional health. Self-compassionate people are more likely to be satisfied with their lives, be resilient in the face of adversity, have increased motivation to achieve goals, feel more competent at their jobs, eat well and exercise, have strong immune systems, and have meaningful relationships. Without self-compassion, we tend to feel shame and unworthiness, have high anxiety and depression, feel isolated, become aggressive or detached, develop imposter syndrome, get burned out, and develop illnesses and physical pain.

Kristen Neff, a pioneering self-compassion researcher and teacher, describes three main components of self-compassion. The first is showing ourselves kindness and understanding when we fail or suffer, rather than self-criticizing. We show ourselves the support we might offer a friend in need. This creates a mindset better capable of coping with challenges and making important decisions.

Second, we recognize our common humanity. We tend to feel isolated in our suffering, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Knowing that we are all flawed and vulnerable beings reassures us that we are not alone and strengthens our sense of connection to others.

The third element requires a change in perspective. Rather than over-identifying with our suffering, we practice mindfulness. We accept the present moment just as it is, without exaggeration or suppression. This is how we prevent being sucked into the cyclone of negative thoughts and feelings that lead to emotional reactivity.

By now, I'm hoping that you are ready to make self-compassion your superpower. (If you still have doubts, please check out these common myths.) An effective way to begin to cultivate self-compassion is through meditative practices. You can find several wonderful guided self-compassion practices here. While you're there, explore the rest of Dr. Kristen Neff's website for more information, research, resources and events. As you develop your practice, you'll find that self-compassion is a gift you give not only to yourself, but to everyone around you.

Panic Attack Relief with Self-Massage

Panic attacks are scary and overwhelming. If you are having a panic attack or feel one coming on, this video can help. I am here to guide you through a self-massage to reduce your anxiety, and reconnect with your body and breath. You can also use these techniques to prevent panic attacks, and to reduce anxiety in general.

What's new with me ...

Jesse, Sienna and I spent a wonderful weekend visiting friends in Arlington, VA. Sienna had a blast playing with their two young daughters. We saw the White House, enjoyed an immersive art experience at Artomatic, strolled through the beautiful Arboretum, had a silly dance party, and enjoyed good food and great company!

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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