17 Self Care Lessons from 17 Years Running a Self Care Business

Happy 17th Business Birthday to Me!

I started training in all these therapies and coaching etc to save my OWN life so – as that thankfully seems so long ago – thought I’d share 17 of the self care lessons I’ve learned over the years in hopes that they help you:

1) Know that you WILL feel better

I haven’t felt actively suicidal since before I started coaching etc but those initial years of complementary therapy and coaching training (2001-2004), where SO much was coming up for healing, were my worst since my teens. Writing this now, I remember it so vividly and it feels like someone else. You can heal. You are more than these feelings.

2) Follow what feels good

Learn to discern what’s good for you and what’s to be (where possible) avoided by tuning into your body. Think of a great decision and notice how you feel in your body as you remember it. Think of a TERRIBLE decision and notice how THAT feels as you remember it. What is the most prominent physical sensation for each? Become attuned to your body’s wisdom when making daily and bigger choices.

3) Be inspired by your friends, community and strangers

Be inspired. Be supportive. And when it comes up, use envy as a guide. It’s just another feeling and when you listen, there’s rich information there about what you’ve potentially been neglecting in your own life, what you want more (or less) of.

4) Allow yourself to feel ALL the feelings

When I initially trained in EFT before doing my therapy trianing, I was already a coach and struggled to even FATHOM why we were being asked to connect with ‘negative’ and painful feelings. But of course even when we repress or deny them, they’re still impacting us. The idea of OWNING them and working with the wisdom even the worst feelings offer was one of many of my breakthroughs.

5) Soothing self talk

I developed Cattitude (Cat Coaching for Self Care and Polyvagal Theory) because the MagnifiCat changed my life. She opened my heart, continues to make me a better human and helped me where therapies and coaching had started to make inroads in creating a kinder, gentler inner voice. Imagine YOUR self as an adorable cat / dog / lizard etc and notice the softening as you approach your own.

6) Let go and let God/dess

I got a tattoo for my 34th birthday to remember the magic of trusting and surrendering. More than a decade on, it still catches me by surprise (like this morning, battling a tech issue for HOURS, feeling REALLY cranky and then taking a break and feeling a gazillion times better) but life is immediately better when – whether or not you consider yourself spiritual or religious – we connect with the part of our Selves that, like a seed in the garden (or wild) knows how to seek the light and nourishment and to grow. Let that part of you help you get out of your own way. Our egos have their place but we don’t need to suffer so much.

7) Focus on being of service

Whether you’re struggling with your business or personally, reframe the struggle and ask yourself how you can be of service. If you want more clients, as yourself how you might better help as many as possible. If it’s more personal, again, flip the focus and watch your mood improve (and find success more easily).

8) Be curious

CPD and additional trainings (my most extreme were the Yoga Therapy and Personal Consultancy where writing a feature and book review turned into embarking on training courses) but also, all your feelings. It’s ALL information. Get curious about yourself and the world instead of judging yourself (and the world).

9) Use your body

Our bodies, in spite of all we put them through, are amazing tools and friends. Just by changing our posture or moving, we shift energy and regulate our moods. It’s such a great shortcut to feeling better because 80% of the signals that go between the body and brain via the Vagus nerve go UP so it’s way way waaaaay quicker to move or breathe ourselves calm or confident or happy than it is to yell at ourselves to relax.

10) Use your breath

As above, there are so many different moods and yoga offers so many different Pranayama (breath) practices. From balancing breaths to calming breaths, spacious breaths to joyful breaths. You can access several of them HERE and, best of all, these practices can be done almost anytime anywhere as we always – while we’re alive – have our breath with us. No fancy tools or props required.

11) Be yourself

I can’t tell you how often I would angst over offering Too Many Things. Indian Irish, London born, daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, I think it’s actually in my DNA to have an expansive approach to everything but in a world in which we’re encouraged to ‘niche’ and ‘focus’ it’s taken me years to appreciate the BENEFITS of the approach that evolved through following my curiosity and own healing journey and ultimately creating a practice and career that I adore. If you feel stuck, be open to letting your dharma (soul path) emerge gently and trust that it will.

12) Daily practice

Commit to daily self care practice/s but allow variations on your self care spectrum from bad days when brushing your teeth feels like too much to those days where you feel more invincible and want to climb a mountain or swim in the depths of the ocean. And of course, the inbetween, ordinary days.

13) Forgive yourself for your mistakes

From getting too relaxed facilitating a Yoga Nidra nearly a decade ago (and talking about rotating the consciousness from the thumb, index finger, middle finger, fourth finger, fifth finger and SIXTH finger to needing THREE attempts to properly spell the name of a woman kind enough to have bought a copy of the book at my first live event in 11 months last month (I tried to be clever with the Irish spelling and, well, apologies…) Learn and move on.

14) Know that you DESERVE to feel better

Which of your self care practices do you resist the most? Why might this be? I recently realised that my resistance to the simple act of TAKING daily supplements challenged my conditioning that I had to do everything the hard way. No cure for endometriosis meant I had either repeat the surgery every couple of years or desperately experiment with self care practices until I was able to find things that helped me stand up straight (and rest of bad pain days). Refusing (not forgetting but not putting in the effort to reach INTO the cupboard right by the kettle) my supplements was odd and once I made this conscious (last week!) I started actually TAKING them every day instead of once or twice a week.

15) Stop arguing with reality

I lost a big chunk of my site this week. Had been so looking forward to focusing on some other work before my client sessions but instead wasted HOURS trying to sort this tech issue. I’ve – over the decades – become much, much better about accepting reality and focusing my energy and attention as much as possible on what I CAN change. When I forget, instant suffering. Whether you wish a loved one or colleague would somehow be different or something else, let yourself off the hook of such endless, incurable frustration and embrace the joy of radical acceptance

16) Keep learning

Volunteering initially with AICTP and then BACP and now IJCP have been incredible opportunities for me. Also, conferences (attending and speaking). In each case, I learned an incredible amount about integrating multiple therapies and coaching (from AICTP and, as part of BACP Coaching’s Executive and, for nearly two of those years as Chair) and am learning more about therapy in Ireland as a member of the IJCP Editorial Committee. Wearing my journalist hat, I’ve written hundreds of features and columns, interviewing world renowned experts in the personal development field. Think about your own life and work. What do you want to know more about? Who do you want to connect with? Consider your skills and experience. How might you volunteer even a little time in order to meet amazing people and improve your industry as you learn more.

17) Recognise how far you’ve come

For the first 13 years of my self employment, I’d buy myself a kid’s birthday card with the number on the front (this hasn’t been possible the last few years), write a message to myself for Future Me and frame it until the following year so I’d notice how far I’d come (or not! Some years, I felt Very Stuck) that year. I also take a day off to celebrate. This year, we’re exploring a beautiful part of Ireland near us and I’ll squeeze in a bonus sea swim. How might you celebrate your own milestones?

I hope this post helps you remember to do the things that help YOU. Please feel free to share it on your social media etc so others who may want feel better can read it.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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