How I Learned to Love Myself—and My Practice

Inner leadership involves a yearning to break through self-imposed limitations to serve the world from your best self and to make a meaningful contribution. It is also the experience of discovering the resources you carry within.

How I Learned to Love Myself—and My Practice

Inner leadership involves a yearning to break through self-imposed limitations to serve the world from your best self and to make a meaningful contribution. It is also the experience of discovering the resources you carry within.

Inner leadership involves a yearning to break through self-imposed limitations to serve the world from your best self and to make a meaningful contribution.

It is also the experience of discovering the resources you carry within.

In this article, I will share some of the ideal conditions of both the path and the practice of inner leadership.

Inner Leadership

Deep within you is a sense of knowing designed to guide you away from confusion and toward purpose.

It is the inner voice that calls you to offer your gifts to the world. You know this voice—it is no doubt what led you to enroll in massage school.

This calling is the expression of your essence—your unique gifts, talents and abilities. This inner voice is often expressed through feelings of either longing or discontent.

Longing is the intuitive yearning to be, do, have or create something that is not currently present in your life.

As 13th-century Persian poet Rumi said, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”

You may want to launch a private practice instead of working for an employer, see more clients per month than you are currently seeing, learn a new technique or write a book.

Discontent is feeling dissatisfied with a situation or circumstance that is currently present in your life. For instance, you may feel discontent with your place of work or you often find yourself complaining about a lack of time and money.

Both longing and discontent can lead you to your purpose, and living with purpose allows you to live in joy. Giving yourself the time and space will help you connect with your purpose. Here is a simple connection practice:

Exercise: Allow yourself a day of reflection. Immerse yourself in solitude and silence with no distractions.

Use your breath to settle yourself into your body and heart. Free yourself from any judgments regarding why you can’t have what you desire.

Open your imagination and give yourself permission to dream.

Write down three things you wish for in your life. This might be what deeply moves you or what makes you feel fully alive.

Notice what it is you want rather than focusing on what you don’t want.

The Path of Proper Mindset

Leading from within also means learning to calm the mind, use the power of concentration, and engage in positive and effective thinking.

Thought is the preamble to everything in life. What do you say when you talk to yourself?

It’s important to focus on what you do want rather than what you don’t want. Reprogramming the mind is a disciplined process of repetition that leads you toward your true potential.

Most people keep thinking the same kind of thoughts in an unconscious manner.

What this means is that we keep viewing the same movie in our minds, and consequently go on creating and living the same kind of life, over and over.

We often surround ourselves with limitations through our thoughts, beliefs, habits and rules.

As author and coach Bob Proctor said, “Whatever you think about all the time you will attract into your life. Not what you want—what you think about.”

If we persist in our efforts to become more conscious of our thinking and free our mind of limiting thoughts we will then move into becoming positive co-creators in our life.

Meditation is a way to pay attention to what you are thinking. Here is a simple meditation practice:

Exercise: Focus your awareness on a burning candle for 10 minutes with no distractions.

Gradually bring your attention to your breath. Feel its rhythm, follow its current and allow it to deepen. Bring awareness to your thoughts.

Always, and immediately, replace a negative thought with a positive thought.

We alternate between a polarity of thoughts that either serve us well or do not.

Practice thoughts that serve you well.

The Path of Self-Awareness

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It is important to recognize that self-awareness is not only about what we notice in and around us, but also how we notice and monitor our inner world of thoughts, feelings and beliefs, and make the necessary changes in order to get the results we desire.

“Know thyself” is an invitation many of us are familiar with and know to be an ancient truth.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., states in his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence, that self-awareness is “knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions.”

This definition places emphasis on the ability to monitor your inner world, thoughts and emotions as they arise.

Awareness leads you to be conscious of your conditioned and limiting mindset, and that consciousness can form the foundation of freeing the mind from limiting beliefs, thoughts and attitudes.

The following quote by psychiatrist Victor Frankle, M.D., Ph.D., is a delicious invitation into awareness: “Between stimulus and response there is a space, and in this space lies our growth and our freedom.”

Self-awareness may not be something you spend much time thinking about or developing.

However, it is a practice that allows you to move away from autopilot into a conscious participant in your life.

Journal writing is one of many ways to deepen self-awareness.

Here is simple journal writing process:

Exercise: Organize your writing around a specific theme and ask yourself this question: What are my thoughts, feelings and habits I have regarding success, fear, faith, abundance, money, gratitude, persistence, health, massage/touch, difficult clients, self-nourishment, integrity, commitment, possibility, limitations and service?

Pick one theme each day and write on it.

Continue this process for at least 30 days.

The Path of Doing

There is an enormous difference, or gap, between what we know and what we do.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe knowledge is sacred. However, knowledge alone does not create change.

This gap is often the common thread that limits our ability as practitioners to achieve the results we desire.

As a teacher and mentor in the massage field for over 20 years, I have witnessed this common frustration among practitioners.

They often share with me their need to know more and to gain more knowledge.

I tell them it is not a lack of knowledge or training missing from a practitioner’s life; it is practicing what you know in order to get the results you desire.

For example, there are many principles we have learned that guide each of us into a successful practice—things like your code of ethics, proper self-care, impeccable customer service, practice-building skills, heart-centered listening, priority management and positive attitude.

However, not acting on what we know can prove to be destructive.

One of the most liberating things in our life is becoming aware of our conditioned thoughts and beliefs that fill this gap of knowing and doing.

We are capable of so much more than most of us believe.

How do we become aware of what is in this gap? I suggest what I call the pillar of pausing.

Here is a simple routine to practice pausing:

Exercise: Pause, and notice your thoughts and beliefs that prevent you from taking action toward what you know to do.

Re-direct your thinking.

When we change the way we think about doing things, we change the results.

The Path of Practice

It is important to remember that you can have whatever you are willing to become. Successful inner leadership consists of knowing and becoming—of both action and being.

When the two are in conflict, there is nothing but frustration and failure. To know all about compassion without practicing compassion, for example, is disastrous.

The power of practicing what we know leads us to be what it is we want in our lives.

We become what we practice.

The desire for love finds its fulfillment in loving, the desire for joy finds itself fulfillment in laughter, and the desire for gratitude is found in heart-felt words of thanks.

The next time you feel irritated by a person behaving in a rude manner, find that place of compassion within yourself for that person.

This way you are adding compassion to the world rather than letting yourself be brought down by someone else’s anger.

In the quietness of your heart, thank them for teaching you compassion. We are all teachers to each other.

Empower your inner leader, and serve the world from your best self.

Editor’s note: Download the free New Practitioner eBook, The Blueprint for a Successful Massage Career.

Learn rebooking techniques in “The Soil and the Seeds, Grow a Garden of Regular Clientele,” by Kathy Ginn, at

About the Author

Kathy Ginn, L.M.T., B.C.T.M.B. is cocreator of Life Empowered Institute. She is a body-centered Hakomi practitioner, Proctor-Gallagher Thinking into Results consultant, teacher and mentor. She offers body-centered coaching and continuing education focusing on personal and professional development, along with courses in Ethics as Right Use of Power. Her courses are offered through webinars and experiential classr

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