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  • Writer's pictureClaire Sheehan

Why I'm focusing on Self Compassion

For those who have followed my art path for a while, you will know I have a big focus on products and illustrations which support a positive mindset and looking after yourself. To be honest, much of this is driven by both my own interest in personal development, and the fact I have often felt I am...well missing a little something in being my best self. I had coaching when I was in the corporate environment, partly as I often found myself emotionally responding and because I wanted to try to let go of my anxieties and just show up in a more effective way. It's always felt like a bit of a battle for me, and one that I have felt I have only been a bit successful at.

I started painting whilst on maternity leave as having time for myself and doing things separately for myself, are BIG needs for me. I found it hard suddenly having two teensy people completely reliant on me. Parenting is amazing AND it is also true I find it very hard! It comes with no manual, all children are different, and you're constantly wondering if you are doing the best / right thing for your children and family. Add to this my desire to know what is happening and to have a plan, well, it often feels like a tough mix!

In the last few years I have continued to create and to refine my style. And I have continued to focus on positive, wellbeing focused work as that's what I need in the world and like to see. I like knowing that my work goes out in the world and is received positively and given as a positive gift to friends and family, it makes me feel like I am adding a little joy and positivity back into the world.

And in the last few years my reading has widened from my more traditional focus on productivity, and business and confidence to self compassion and self kindness - how can we show up in the world in such a way that it helps us be kinder to ourselves, in the same way that we would if were talking to a much loved friend?

When I read Kristin Neff "Self Compassion, Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind" it resonated hugely. One of the big touchstones for me was reading how Kristin has an autistic son, and how her compassion practice helped her to make sense of the diagnosis and be compassionate in that relationship. With one of my boy now diagnosed on the spectrum, it was refreshing to hear about practices that could help me as a parent when I was finding things tough.

I think it is a bit more spoken about now about supporting parents, but the reality that I hear is that many parents feel alone, isolated and worry that they are doing things wrong. Add into that a child on or potentially on the spectrum, and needing to get additional support in place for them and it can feel like you are battling to get support. All to help your child thrive.

So on a personal level, I decided to follow up and find out more about self compassion and have been doing an 8 week course in London to learn more about the practices and to create some helpful habits for my future. It feels good to be looking inside myself for the answers, a strengthening of my own possibilities to be strong, resilient and to support myself and my family.

Along the road I'm illustrating my journey in how I am learning about self compassion and applying it as a parent, as a creative, and in the midst of the daily things which make me anxious. I hope that by writing about it and sharing illustrations on it, it not only helps me to instil that learning more deeply, but means I can talk about and share the impact it is having on me and hopefully to bring some insights to others that they may feel refreshed.


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