We all need a good therapist, especially as an entrepreneur. Meet Rebecca Kronman!
When I think of a therapist that understands entrepreneurs I think of Rebecca Kronman. From groups like Ladies Get Paid, to The Lifestyle Edit her name rings true as an expert in her field. Back in 2017 we hosted a sold out event on the topic Imposter Syndrome. As many people struggle to find their place in their entrepreneurial journey it’s important to have someone in your corner helping you fight the ultimate battle— the one against yourself.
1. As a LCSW Therapist, what are the biggest challenges you see 20-30 somethings struggling with?
I typically see people struggling with anxiety. At times that goes hand-in-hand with depression. Our brains don’t finish developing until we’re 25(!) so going to therapy in your 20’s can be incredibly transformative. We’re more malleable to change and our identities aren’t as “fixed” as they become in later years. That can be both a struggle and an asset.
Therapists have seen a marked increase in anxiety in the past few years; many people attribute this to social media, which is strongly correlated with feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Social media asks us to constantly look outside of ourselves and invites unhealthy comparisons; it shows us an idealized and unrealistic version of reality that we actually cannot achieve. Then we’re literally being hooked into that cycle by design; our phone lights up and beeps to get our attention; there’s always something new to look at. Its overstimulating to our nervous systems and extremely addicting.
Layered on top of that is the fact that I see people who live in Brooklyn, one of the most difficult places to live in the world! It’s a vibrant and exciting place, but it’s not the same as when our parents lived here. We pay far more in rent proportionately than they ever did; the subway is worse than it ever was; there are more people and more congestion. These are issues that have a subtle but significant impact on the way anxiety affects us. When our quality of life is impacted, and we’re less able to have quiet moments, it affects our ability to cope with other stressors that inevitably come about: interpersonal conflicts, life transitions, career challenges, etc. I should mention here that it’s good to have perspective on this… most of the people I see are more resourced than the vast majority of New Yorkers. That doesn’t make them immune to anxiety but by and large, their basic needs of food, shelter and security are covered. When those needs go unaddressed, the impacts on mental health can be incredibly devastating.
2. NYC, as we know, is a VERY competitive go, go, go city! What tips do you have for individuals to manage their anxiety and keep the comparison fears in control?
I encourage people to take note of how their anxiety shows up in the body. Is it a tension in the jaw? A tightness I the shoulders? A clenching in the chest or stomach? When you notice that, see if you can sit for just a moment with the discomfort. If it’s too intolerable, don’t do it (especially if you’re prone to panic attacks). Normally we rely on distraction as a technique to cope. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and in many cases, it can be incredibly helpful. And if you’re able to sit with the sensation, you may notice how it shifts and then eventually dissipates. Slowing down and tuning in also gives us the opportunity to take stock of the situation we’re in that’s triggering the anxiety. Who or what am I interacting with? Are there any patterns that become apparent? Can I make a decision here that will quell this worry?
Another point to note is that as a society, we’re prone to platitudes such as “you shouldn’t think about that” or “you shouldn’t feel that way.” I like to offer my clients a technique that I learned from meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg. She encourages us to look with compassion at the feeling, but with an outsiders distance. So for example “oh, I see you anxiety! There you are again, and that’s ok. I’m going to let you go now.” We would repeat this over and over again as the thoughts and feelings will naturally return to us.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t make a plug here for therapists. Part of our role is to reflect our clients’ progress back to them. When you’re living your life, it’s hard to see where you’ve made progress because it can be subtle. We also tend to undermine our own progress (our brains are wired to see negatives more than positives) When you’re in therapy, another person is taking note of your achievements once per week and can remind you of how far you’ve come. This can really help with comparison fears and remind us that it’s rarely helpful to compare ourselves to others, and much more accurate to compare our current selves to our former selves.
2. We’ve talked to you before about imposter syndrome, and it’s SO real! What are some things that women can do to get over it and start knowing their worth?
First of all, know that this experience is extremely common among women! As women, we’re socialized to be more risk-averse than men, and when we start to confront that, it takes some undoing of deeply ingrained patterns.
Another thing to watch is how we receive positive feedback. Are we excusing it, pushing it away or not allowing it to sink in? That’s important to note because it gives us information. When we tune in and take a pause, what does our internal dialogue say to us? What tone is it speaking in? If someone gives us a compliment, are we saying to ourselves “Oh, she’s just saying that.” If that’s the case, then we’ve got some work to do.
Again I like to start in the body. Where do you experience the feeling of being an imposter? Now, what if you change the position of the body into a powerful stance? If you’ve watched Amy Cuddy’s power posing Youtube video, you might be familiar with the technique to make your body more expansive as a means to influence the way you feel. While some of the results of her research have been discredited, I do still believe there is value to using the body to influence our emotional state.
Finally, I think it’s also important to note our language. Women are socialized to use more qualifiers. “I’m just writing to follow up”; “Let’s do that if you think it’s a good idea”; “Would you maybe want to go there?”. When we don’t use those qualifiers, sometimes it has the effect of making us, or other people, think we’re coming off as harsh or–excuse the term–bitchy! That’s, of course, a function of misogyny, both external and internalized. And, to be blunt, that’s BS! When I speak to groups about Imposter Syndrome, I challenge them to reconceptualize a straightforward communication style without qualifiers as a harnessing of your power, confidence and self-assuredness.
4. You’ve been the go-to NYC therapist for entrepreneurs (can we say creatives instead? Or creative entrepreneurs?). How did that happen and how do you recommend someone finds the therapist that best fits them?
Em – can I keep you around all the time to say lovely things to me when I need to hear them? Thank you! I chose this specialty – working with [creatives or creative entrepreneurs] because in a way, I kind of wish I was one of them! I don’t have that skill set though, I’m trained as a therapist. So for me, the next best thing was to work in collaboration with that community. [Creatives or creative entrepreneurs] tend to think a little differently about the world. I’m always learning so much when I work with my clients; it keeps me engaged and allows me to continue growing as well (I suppose that’s a little self-serving!).
When choosing a therapist, I encourage people to think first about logistics. Can you travel to their office easily? Do you need to use your insurance, and if you can pay out of pocket, what is the budget you need to work within? That way you’re not setting your sights on someone who you can’t realistically work with. Websites like Psychology Today are helpful to narrow down by location and specialty. If you know a therapist or know someone who has a therapist, you can ask them to give you some names (typically therapists will not see people who are good friends as this can become a conflict). But they can direct you elsewhere. Finally (and probably most importantly), does the person have a web presence that gives you insight into their specialty, style and approach? If not, call and ask them how they work and what modalities they use (don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation for anything you don’t understand).
5. As a mother, entrepreneur and NYC what are your favorite ways to unwind?
Wouldn’t you like to know? 😉 I recently added exercise back into my regimen. I’ve been working towards incorporating a seated meditation practice into my workout time. I am fortunate to live close to Prospect Park, which is pure magic at sunset. When I’m with my two little boys, we love a good dance party (they are quite fond of The Pointer Sisters and Donna Summer). And when I’m super pressed for time, I try to incorporate “mini mindful moments” where I tune into sensation and do just one thing at a time. Two examples: during my morning beauty routine, I’ll take my face lotion, rub it between my hands, bring it to my face and inhale and listen to the sound of my fingers patting it into my skin. Or when I’m walking to the subway, I’ll tune into the sensation of my feet hitting the ground, the air temperature on my face, and the feeling of my clothes touching my skin.