Dealing with Self-Doubt as a Massage Therapist

Do you deal with self-doubt as a massage therapist? When you work with a new client, do you spend the whole time convinced that it’s the worst massage ever? Then this video is for you:

This is an edited version of a previous livestream, now with 75% fewer tangents and pauses. There’s also a nice guided meditation at the end, now with soothing music 🙂

I give tips on getting out of negative head loops in this video, but there’s something that I don’t really address: “What if my massage actually sucks? Like, what if I’m a legitimately bad massage therapist?” You know why I don’t address that? Because it’s not true. In fact, it’s damn near impossible.

Massage can be exceptional for a lot of reasons, many of them having to do with experience and intuition. But for a massage to just be “really good,” all you need are a few simple ingredients:

  1. Time. Where else are people going to get uninterrupted therapeutic contact for an hour or more?
  2. Conscientious contact. It’s nice to have someone really paying attention to your body.
  3. Communication. You’re trained in finding out what needs work and what the right pressure is.

If you’ve got those three ingredients, then you’re giving a great massage! That’s worth whatever you’re charging (and probably more), and it means that you don’t need to be afraid of failure. The next time you step foot in your massage office, I want you to spend some time with these thoughts: “This is a safe place for me to be myself. I can experiment here, and have fun, and learn. Today I’ll be fearless. Today I’ll do my best.”

On days when those thoughts seem too far away to grasp (maybe if you’re feeling depressed or anxious), try this: “What if things work out? I’ll let the outcome be the outcome.” And if any of these mantras ever stop feeling right, or if you feel like they’ve served their purpose, feel free to let them go.

I’d like to hear about your experience with these concepts in the comments. Is self-doubt messing with your massage mojo? Massage veterans, is this something that you still deal with? What’s your best advice for making it less of an issue?

2 thoughts on “Dealing with Self-Doubt as a Massage Therapist

  1. Thank you!! I really did enjoy this video. I have been an LMT in CT for over eleven years now, and I also still deal with self doubt in my massage; not quite as much as I first did but still. I think this video was so appropriate because I also suffer self doubt worst when I am feeling anxious or depressed, and how can we not be feeling stressed during these uncertain times. I am currently taking a class in health psychology at my local community college and I sent this video link to my professor because we discussed rumination earlier in the semester. Thank you for all that you do, Tracy Fell

  2. Hello Ian
    I have watched you for years now and was surprised to learn that you have these feelings too. I always see you as being at the top of your profession. It just seems to me that people who experience imposter syndrome are the ones who are devoid of arrogance and are the caring, sensitive souls which, by their nature, makes them ideal ambassadors of touch. I always used to find certain other therapists were the ones who made derogatory remarks in an effort to look good themselves, i.e. boasting about how many therapies they were qualified for. For years this would put doubts in my mind of my own worth. Those doubts never were planted by clients, who returned time and again.

    Loved the meditation by the way……

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