Inspirational Woman: Dr Rina Bajaj | Chartered Counselling Psychologist & Author

Dr Rina Bajaj is a Chartered-Counselling Psychologist with over 17 years of clinical experience within the field of mental health and wellbeing, working with a wide range of private and corporate clients.

She supports individuals with the tools to develop healthier relationships so that they can reach their full potential and live fulfilling life.

Rina’s new book, The Magic in Me is all about how people can transform their relationship with themselves and the key people in their lives. It details a 30-day process for self-empowerment, including advice and tangible exercises on topics such as attachment styles, self-love, boundaries in relationships, challenging inner critical voices and more.

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role.

I am a British-Asian-born female who has always been interested in connecting with people and understanding my position in the world. From a young age I was always curious and interested in people from all walks of life – what was their story, who were they and how did they connect with themselves and the world around them? I was always the child helping people and the child who connected to others in the hope of helping them to feel valued, appreciated and less alone. You may say that empathy has always been a part of me!

Relationships have always fascinated me. As relational beings, we can define ourselves and our worlds via the key relationships we experience. This can either support or hinder us. My curiosity about people led me to study psychology in order to try and understand the human psyche more. I completed my Doctorate in Counselling Psychology in 2008 and have not stopped learning since! I have worked in many interesting settings with people from all walks of life including children, adults, entrepreneurs, celebrities and ultra-high net-worth individuals. I am interested in helping people to connect with their authentic selves so that they can lead a happy, healthy and fulfilling life. I now run my own award-winning therapeutic practices where I offer therapy and specialist training as well as engage with the media around mental health and wellbeing.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I decided to do a degree in Psychology as I really enjoyed learning about people, their mindset and relationships, but I never had a plan of what would come next! I would say that my career has naturally unfolded and I have given myself space and time to try different fields of psychology that fit with my curiosity as a person. I did have some goals, such as writing a book and setting up my own practice, but letting these unfold as time went on was right.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I have found that one of the biggest challenges is an internal one. Although self-reflection is powerful, it is not always comfortable. The Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and my career that has followed, has pushed me to continuously re-evaluate myself, my life and to hold the mirror up to what is working and what is not. I have a motto: “I can’t expect clients to make changes when I am not willing to push myself past my comfort zone”. Being a British Asian female, I have also been conscious of how important representation is. Whilst I was training, I didn’t see a fair representation of people from different backgrounds in the profession. I decided to use my social media platforms to start to help to challenge this. My hope was to raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing across a range of communities.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

One of my biggest achievements was completing my doctorate at the age of 25. This achievement was not only professional, but also personal. It was a recognition of the amount of self-investment I had put into the process at such a young age.

Throughout your career working with a massive variety of clients, what is the most interesting thing that you find all people tend to struggle with, and do you recommend people work through it?

One of the biggest concerns I hear time and time again is people not feeling good enough. Even if, on the surface, it seems as if they have it all and are super successful, there is often a pain point and vulnerability. The irony is sometimes the more successful you become, the harder it may be to express vulnerability. This is often because people live their lives according to their own or other people’s expectations. I think that, in order to live a life with contentment, it is important to understand who you really are and what it is that you really want. If you were living life on your terms, what would that look like? Often, when it comes to our mindset and beliefs, there is a lot of unlearning and relearning to do. However, I do believe that it is worth it as our relationship with ourselves sets the tone for our other relationships and our experience of the world.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Success for me is not just focussing on a goal, but also understanding your why. When I talk about why, I focus on the emotional connection and feeling about why I want to achieve that particular goal. I find that this can help on days where I am less motivated and it’s at these times that it is crucial to challenge any critical thoughts or self-doubt that may creep in, so that it doesn’t linger longer than is necessary!

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is a wonderful thing if done in a caring, personable, empathetic and respectful way. I personally love working with trainee psychologists as a way to be a part of their developing professional identity. I felt that this was a gap for me when I was in training. I don’t have an official mentor, but I learn a lot from others through books, talks, training, clinical supervision and personal therapy. I think a good mentor is anyone who helps you to think and reflect, as well as connect with your inner self. This can help you to trust yourself more, without judgement.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

One simple thing would be to close the gender pay gap. Money represents so much emotionally, including value and worth. This can also help to increase representation and leadership across all communities. It’s also important to create safe and honest spaces where discussions can be had about experiences, inequality, discrimination and improving equity.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

“Things change and that’s ok – trust yourself and the process”.

 I was very shy as a child and lacked self-belief, which is probably why I am an advocate for this now! It’s okay to say no and it’s ok to take care of yourself. You don’t have to be everything to everyone all of the time (and actually this isn’t possible).

Your new book, The Magic in Me helps people to build on the key relationships in their lives, both with themselves and others. Can you tell us a bit about the book, and why you chose to write it?

The Magic in Me is a 30 day self-empowerment guide, designed to help increase self-reflection and the connection to our authentic self. I wanted to share tools that individuals could incorporate into their daily lives to help move them away from what they feel they “should” do to a space where they connect with their inner truth.  The activities in the book are divided into three main parts, all of which begin with an introduction to the section followed by daily practices designed to help you strengthen your connection to your true, authentic inner self, away from judgement and away from fear.

The first section, My Internal World, is focused on the relationship you have with yourself. The second section, My External World, is focused on your outer world and the key relationships around you. The third section, My True Self, helps you to connect with who you really are and your needs, wants and desires. This section will help you to blend the learning that you gain from sections one and two with the aim of helping you shift to living a more authentic life in the now. This will take you closer to action steps, thoughts and feelings that align with your ideal self.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to continue to focus on building my private practice on an international scale. I am developing training programmes to compliment the book and to provide a safe space to explore relationships. I am also utilising methods at the cutting edge of therapy, such as virtual reality and I will continue to drive innovation in therapy, so that therapy is more accessible on a larger scale to a wider audience.

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