Creative self-compassion

My journey to being a Psychologies Ambassador

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 Creative self-compassion

 My journey to becoming a Psychologies Ambassador can be summarised in one sentence from a Psychologies Life Change Planner back in 2012:

Of all the parts that make us who we are, it is our creative self that can be the most neglected. It languishes at the bottom of our to-do lists…

 My heart sank when I read those words. I’d lived for several decades with creativity at the bottom of my to do list. Creativity for me was the indulgence I’d fit in once all the other (more important) jobs were done.

I’m a creative person. I always have been. What happened along the way to stunt the growth of this precious part of me?

Being the youngest of five children for one thing. I became a great people watcher but my three older brothers were either embarrassed or inconvenienced by my creative self-expression and often diminished or discouraged it.

The education system played a frustratingly significant part too. At thirteen, and one of the ‘bright ones’, I had to study Russian and Chemistry over Art and Domestic Science.

Then much later in life, as a mum with two children and starting my own business, the to-do list was never-ending, so although my creativity leaked out along the way, I rarely gave myself opportunities to express it more fully by dedicating time for my creative self. I dedicated my time to my family, our home and building a business.

One more perhaps surprising reason was that I was, and still am happily married. I’ve realised throughout my life that I am most creatively prolific when I am unhappy.
Pain is often the source of art.

Following the Psychologies quote in 2012, another wake up call came from Brené Brown:

Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasises. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame.

Where my heart sank at the first quote, this was more like a shock to the system. I got it. I understood. And I determined to turn this on its head:
Expressed creativity is benign. It heals. It turns into celebration, peace, courage, acceptance and joy.

It really does. I’m learning this now in my later life. I knew this in my teens and twenties. Sadly it got layered over.

As a coach in 2017, creative self-expression is routinely on my radar. I sense it languishing at the bottom of my clients’ to-do lists, yearning to be uniquely expressed yet neglected under layers of responsibility, tasks and action plans.

Here’s a whistlestop tour of the journey to being and living as my authentic self and how I evolved my approach as a leadership and personal development coach.

My professional backstory

When my children were young (they are now in their twenties), I gradually built my business initially as a consultant in personal and team development in the public, private and third sectors.

I completed a post grad qualification in Applied Emotional Intelligence and gradually became more involved developing school leaders.

I self published a workbook on emotional intelligence.

I got my ILM Level 7 coaching qualification.

I did various online courses including Finding Your Tribe with Max Simon.

Then my commitment to prioritising my creativity kicked in and my goal was ‘to find my voice in writing’.

I did a three month Writing as a Spiritual Practice programme with Mark Matousek followed by The Gifts of Imperfection, Living Brave / Daring Leadership with Brené Brown.

My niche or my tribe became clear – leaders in education. I have successfully coached hundreds of them over the past fifteen years and gone well past the ten thousand hours mark!

During this time I was asked by a group of headteachers to develop work on resilience to keep people well and to retain them in the profession. This was and still is a fabulous project that enabled me to combine everything I knew about emotional intelligence, the teaching profession and behaviour change and to communicate it innovatively, and yes, you guessed, creatively. The confluence of these people and opportunities shaped and evolved my goal further so it became ‘to write for the people I serve’. This meant not just finding my voice in writing but – scarily - sharing it with others. I made that happen and launched a membership site called Solutions just over a year ago.

Through writing posts for Solutions, and continuing to develop people in resilience, it became clear to me that self-compassion was pivotal to resilience, so more online courses - Self Compassion with Kristen Neff and Brené Brown; The Foundations of Self Compassion with Tim Desmond and the Self Acceptance Summit with Sounds True.

And just as I wondered back in 2012 what happened to stunt my growth as a creative, I’m now wondering what happens to us that makes self-compassion so difficult. Intuitively, I know the imperative for society to get this right, so this is me playing my part for something I wish I’d known sooner in life – the ultimate self empowerment – how to get yourself to feel better when you’re not feeling great.

In November I facilitated my first 2 day workshop on Self Compassion for leaders in education. As I start 2018 as a Psychologies Ambassador, my personal commitment is to bring together what I've learned from the courses, self-exploration, awareness and insights on self-compassion and actualise my work, creatively. It may be a book, it will be about creative self-compassion but it won’t be called that. My other criterion is that it’s accessible – easily understood and straightforward to put into practice. Not ‘new age’ or fluffy – on the contrary, tough and challenging in a gradual and kind way. I’m approaching this as my work of art.

You can find out more about Solutions at and Resilience at

Maureen Bowes

Leadership & Personal Development Coach, People Intelligence

Psychologies Ambassador creating and pioneering self compassion for radical change. ILM Level 7 Executive Coach and Leadership Mentor. Wife, mum, people watcher, café dweller, film lover


Go to the profile of Maureen Bowes
almost 4 years ago
Go to the profile of Cara Wheatley-McGrain
almost 4 years ago

Really interesting read Maureen, thought provoking and enlightening, thank you for sharing your story!