My name is Samantha Rajchel and I’m a Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist with a private practice based in Ontario, Canada. I run the Instagram account @dose.of.compassion, with the hope of encouraging and supporting women to pause, think, and reflect on creating a more nurturing and compassionate relationship with themselves. You can learn more about me at my website: http://www.samantharajchel.com.
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and moved to Canada with my family when I was 13 years old. I grew up with stigmas surrounding mental health issues, combined with the struggle of experiencing untreated mental health issues while adapting to a new culture and environment as an adolescent. These experiences led me to seek therapy and, eventually, begin my journey as a therapist.
The response I received towards my difficult feelings and sensitive temperament sounded a lot like this: “you are too sensitive/needy/crazy”, or “just put a smile on your face”.
I learned to swallow my feelings and to please others and leave myself behind. I became a perfectionist, constantly seeking validation. I learned that my needs didn’t matter, and I silenced my authentic self. Later, I’d learn that not being authentic or voicing my own needs and wants was leading to me feeling depleted, angry and resentful towards others. I also learned that I wasn’t giving the right people a chance to get to know me for who I really was.
“Symptoms are often emotions waiting to be felt” as I like to say. We are seeing more and more research on the links between our physical and mental health. If we go for physical check-ups when we are in pain, why is it that we don’t go for mental health check-ups? It’s time that we stop avoiding or stigmatizing mental health issues. It’s time we start seeking mental health support more freely. I’ve been hearing more and more people starting to talk about their emotions more naturally and it makes me feel hopeful. On top of this, the community of therapists on Instagram are doing amazing work to provide reliable, important information and advocating for mental health.
Once we start to appreciate how common mental health issues are and understand that we’re not all “crazy,” then our healing journey can begin. We can shift from a position of not knowing or avoidance to a state of curiosity and begin understanding how our problems came to be. A bio-psycho-social lens for example, can help us understand the different contributing factors that lead to our mental health issues. This lens can help us gain compassion for ourselves.
I believe self-compassion is fundamental for our mental health. This practice is simple but it’s not easy and practicing this with the support of a loved one or mental health care provider can be beneficial, and often essential. Self-compassion is not about having self-pity or letting ourselves off the hook. It’s that instead of saying “oh poor you, suck it up and put a smile on your face,” we start saying “this really did happen to you and I get and understand you, and I appreciate you.” Instead of getting stuck with shame and criticism, this will help us create space for a more loving self that’s there to encourage us, give us what we need, and help us learn from our mistakes and make better choices moving forward. Through this practice we can better understand ourselves and no longer be prisoners to that subconscious, toxic messaging we’ve internalized. We begin to adopt a more intentional and kinder voice that reminds us of our common humanity, our worth, and encourages and inspires us to live in accordance with our values. We can begin to accept and love our authentic selves. This can have a lovely effect on our relationships, as we are able to let the right people see, love and accept our perfectly imperfect selves.