Your Life’s Too Complicated. Let’s Simplify It With The Plateau-Flow Method!

Self-Compassion Blog.  Your LIfe's Too Complicated.  Let's Simplify It With The Plateau-Flow Method!

Defying Flow

I used to run with great effort, foisting myself forward with each step, and when my gait slowed, I would sprint to quicken my pace.  I was rewarded for these efforts with shin splints, Achilles strains, and plantar fasciitis.  Running and the feedback it gives your body are simple processes, and I chose to defy these communications with a fiery will, and unnecessary, complicated movements.  Life is like this for all of us.  We have values and set goals, and when the flow of life resists our plans, and gives us feedback, we resist its rhythm, determined to control it with our complex tricks and action plans.  Like any good card player, life calls our bet and raises the stakes with even greater obstacles.  Eventually, we feel overwhelmed and quit.

Trusting Flow

What if I told you that you could avoid this disempowering pattern by simply learning to trust life’s feedback?  Obstacles emerge because there is something relevant for you to learn about your personal life or work.  To meet these needs, you must slow down and address them even if they are not obvious steps towards your defined goals.  Having an interesting and evolving life requires something that most of us forget: the unknowable.  Let this sink in.  IF LIFE WERE PREDICTABLE, THEN YOU WOULD NEVER LEARN ANYTHING NEW.   Give yourself permission to observe, adjust to, and respond to things that do not instantly make sense, they just might better your life or save another’s.  Of all of the interventions I have ever used with patients, perhaps the most successful involved me making fun of myself for several hours in the middle of the night to maintain the attention of a suicidal patient at a residential facility.  Spoiler alert: she lived.  Nobody would want a moment like that, and it sure did not seem to fit my goals at the time, but my life and hers are unfathomably better for it.

The Plateau-Flow Model

It would be a terrible crime to speak at length about lessening your life complications without providing you with a model to use.  Fear not!  I have one.  It’s called the plateau-flow method, and it works as follows.  Set goals which reflect your values, and work towards a plateau (i.e., accomplishing an important goal).  When obstacles encumber your work, trust the flow, and address these obstacles with the understanding that they serve a necessary part of your journey.  When you eventually peak, switch to recovery mode, trusting that the flow of life will lead you where you need to go.

In this way, you will live an inspired and evolving, but much simpler life than before.  You will avoid unnecessary injury or illness – both emotional and physical – by trusting the feedback and challenges life gives you.  As an added bonus, the self-compassion and acceptance you show life’s obstacles will help you better understand your own life and the lives of others, which will translate in to more success and happier relationships. Much like my newfound, injury-less running, you may find that listening to life instead of dictating its terms will allow you the freedom to appreciate it, and feel at ease.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 265.  In The Books.

Self-Compassion For Your Need To Feel Cool

Self-Compassion For Your Need To Feel Cool


We need self-compassion for our need to feel cool.  It sounds like a pretty superficial thing, but if there was really nothing to it, then nobody would worry about it.  Right?  So, why do we need to feel cool?  We need to feel cool because we want to be sure that we have enough going for us that we are attractive romantically, platonically, and as potential hires for others.  Cool may be something that somebody else made up, but its value is clear in terms of your ability to command the attention, respect, and sometimes the love of others.

The Evolutionary Value Of Cool

Cool people have a skill that others value.  They seem to be able to anticipate popular trends, and have a knack for entertaining people.  Thousands of years ago, the cool people were probably the warriors because they kept people fed and safe from violent attackers.  In our present time, cool people are fashionable, artistic, entertaining people because they keep us safe from social attackers, and our flaws.  One of the hardest things to do as a human is to apologize for simply trying to enjoy your life.  We envy cool people because they live unapologetically, which makes us want to be cool too.

The Burden Of Cool

Despite all of these great cool people traits, this coolness can be a burden.  It’s a burden for the people, who are deemed not cool.  It is an aggravation for people, who have a full life, and have little time for trends.  If you are paying off a car, a house, working a full time job, and are in a relationship, you have too much going on to focus on what’s cool.  And, still, you wish you were.

Self-Compassion For Our Need To Be Cool

So, let’s take a moment to give ourselves self-compassion for our need to be cool.  First, acknowledge the feeling, and name it.  Second, notice the areas of your body that are tense, and soften around these parts.  Third, notice how you have come by these feelings naturally.  Being cool saves me from bullying, and makes other people want to be around me, and it’s hard when I don’t have any time to cultivate it.  Fourth, bring kindness and compassion to your experience.  I am by my vey nature good enough.  The positive people I want in my life will be attracted to me because I am a passionate person, who chases down my dreams.  How can I be kind to myself right in this very moment?

Cool or not, you are more than enough.  One person’s cool is another person’s dork, anyway.  Not to mention the fact that sometimes it is really cool to be dorky.  If you want to live a good life, just be sure to surround yourself with people, who support your journey to be the most sincere, fulfilled you possible.  What could be cooler than that?

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 259.  In The Books.

Self-Compassion For Your Karma

The Power Of Karma

We need self-compassion for our concerns about karma.  For such a small word, karma carries a lot of power for most people, and not good power.  People fear bad karma.  They believe that karma loosely translates to what will be done to you, and bad karma means that bad things are going to happen to you. 

Bad Karma

I think people understand it this way because most people fear punishment, and wish the world was a just place with checks and balances carried out by an invisible, and impartial force.  They also assume that all ideas, including karma, are designed to govern the individual.  There are flaws to this way of thinking.  First, fear and pain occupy too much of the brain’s survival responses to have the resources necessary to learn.  Second, karma is a principle based on the well-being of all people, so its principles are based on the effects and experience of the greater whole.  Finally, karma is a Buddhist thought, and the Buddhist tradition believes that pain is something that we endure to pursue what is most meaningful in life.  Its directives are about deepening our sense of compassion and love for all people.  Punishment places too much focus on one person, and obscures the rest of the world.

The Real Meaning Of Karma

In reality, karma is a concept that asserts that your actions have an effect on your environment, and the people in it.  Do something kind, and there is a little more kindness available in the world.  Do something unkind, and there is a little more of that in the world.  If there is more kindness in the world, the world will likely be more understanding of your troubles and needs and the troubles and needs of those you know.  If the inverse is true, then the world will be less patient and understanding to you and others.

Personal Effects Of Karma

Here is where it affects you personally.  When you are kind, you tend to attract kind people because they want to be where their behaviors and values are accepted and appreciated.  When you are unkind, you tend to attract unkind people for the same reasons.  Moreover, unkind people try not to surround themselves with too many kind people because they feel badly about themselves by comparison.  All this to say that being kind or unkind will have an affect on your more immediate environment and the greater world, but not because there is a secret group of vengeful ninjas awaiting your misdeeds.

Self-Compassion And Karma

So, how does self-compassion factor into karma?  Simple.  If you work on self-compassion, you will notice that no one is perfect.  We all do things that cause ourselves and others suffering, and we all do things to make our lives and the lives of others better.  If we wish to not worry about our karma, we will accept and forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and give ourselves permission to do kind things for others.  We will not base our self-worth on an accounting of our good deeds versus our misdeeds.  Lastly, we will choose kindness to ourselves and others, when we can, because we want to live in a world where love and meaningful living are the most accessible.

The idea of bad karma or awaiting punishment is just a distraction from deciding how we can contribute to the world in a positive way.  It also prevents us from seeing how we can accept and support ourselves amongst waves of passion, indifference, failure, success, love, and hate.  Reallocate the energy you would normally use for fear of bad karma to kindness and acceptance, and see if you do not start to feel better about the world, your place in it, and your current contributions.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 247.  In The Books. 

Living With More Self-Compassion By Differentiating Wishes From Demands

The Origin Of Demands

It is actually a pretty common self-compassion theme to find people upset about their wishes not being fulfilled.  They wish for things, and feel disappointed in their life prior to knowing about self-compassion, and then they internally do the dance of joy, when they hear that self-compassion involves active wishing.  Ironically, self-compassion includes the wish for well-being, or freedom from suffering, or the wish for self-acceptance because it wants people to have the kind and compassionate intention of bringing well-being into their life without trying to control or demand it. 

This whole mix up is simply a social construction issue.  You see, many years ago, someone wrote a story about a genie and a magic lamp.  When you rubbed on the lamp, the genie would arise from within on a cloud of smoke, and promise to grant three wishes.  But, “wish” in this sense is used incorrectly.  Really, people were able to make three demands of the genie.  In other words, they were able to ask for three things that he was obligated to fulfill.

Confusing Wishes And Demands

Confusing wishes with demands causes us so much inner turmoil.  We live a challenging life with lots of ups and downs.  The harder certain areas of our life become, the more we wish it would become predictable.  Our fantasy is that if it were predictable, then we could prepare for it, and with this preparation we could guarantee success.  Unfortunately, life does not work like that, and the harder we try to control the parts of our lives that are causing us suffering, the more suffering we experience, and the more helpless we feel. 

We hate to feel helpless, so instead we find something that we can potentially control, and we put a lot of pressure on this thing.  It could be a purchase, or our spouse, or a sports team, or a friend, or a hobby.  Because our fantasy assures us that these are sure things, when they disappoint us, we become unglued.  Objectively speaking, we can see how these wishes are really demands.  So, we love demands because they make the world seem predictable, and that make us feel safe.

Self-Compassion Helps You Benefit From The Distinction Between Wishes And Demands

Self-Compassion acknowledges that demands bring us suffering because the world is unpredictable, but also because they are taking the place of the compassion and kindness that we really need for the original thing that made us feel so down, and helpless.  In the place of demands, self-compassion allows us the opportunity to look at the original source of our suffering with scientific (objective) and less burdensome eyes.  It gives us the opportunity to rub salve on these wounds through compassion.  Finally, it allows us to wish for kindness, so that we know that we can survive tough times, and still be around for rejuvenating ones. 

So, self-compassion wishes are not demands, they are more like intentions for the self, intentions that you lead with in your interactions with others and yourself.  They are a way of preventing yourself from getting caught up in the cycle of suffering, and believing that you deserve to suffer now and forever.  I love the example of the child because we can almost all relate.  Imagine your child has skinned their knee.  We find out how it happened, almost always reassure them that it was an accident.  We give them love, and then we tell them to try to avoid any future harm.  We wish that they do not find future harm.  We do not demand it because they would be so ashamed, when harm inevitable happens (because they are human).  This formula is no less effective on adults, and if you follow it, like the young child, your days will be better and your suffering will be just another opportunity for love and acceptance.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 227.  In The Books.

Where Do I Fit In? Finding Your Place In Art And The World.


Art is the last place most people would suspect they would need self-compassion, but you would be surprised.  After all of the experts that pass judgment on art, and tell people how art should be perceived, people begin to feel that art is a reflection of their competency or incompetency.  Meanwhile, the purpose of art is to inspire, and add meaning to your life.  Once art becomes just one more place for elitism, its true purpose dies, and with it the art.  The only way art endures the generations is if people connect with it, develop their own narrative around it, and find inspiration in it.  This means that the best art leaves room for you in it.

Room For Us

People often wonder whether art imitates life or life imitates art.  People are inspired by art to live a certain way, and art has long been inspired by the sadness, excitement, hopes, dreams, and forbidden desires of the time in which it was created.  The debate really needs no answer, but if you search hard enough, then you will probably find that it is both.  What we care most about is that there is room for us in it.  We need there to be room for us in the art we perceive, and in the life that we perceive as well.

Think about it.  What are your saddest moments?  Most would say that their saddest moments involve loss, exclusion, or self-doubt/hopelessness.  What do these three things have in common?  Of course, there is no room for you.  You can no longer participate in the relationship with someone, who has passed on.  You cannot participate in events or in relationships from which you have been excluded.  And, when self-doubt/hopelessness arises, it tells you that you cannot participate in life the way you imagined.  Metaphorically, these feelings represent the feeling we have when someone shuts a door on us.  It is all at once a profound sadness, an emptiness, a feeling of great loneliness.

Using What You Know To Live Well In Art And In Life

Given what you know about self-compassion, it is clear that you need art, events, and relationships that make room for you.  If there is no room for interpretation or contribution, then you know you are staring at another firmly shut door, and as it is neither your responsibility nor what is in your best interest to fuss with the door, you simply observe it, and continue on your journey until you find one that is open.

People who close doors on us are merely grasping at empowerment in lieu of self-compassion.  People tend to grasp firmly onto something, and exclude others to compensate for the parts of life they lack.   It is not our job to help them open these doors.  That is why their journey is referred to as their path and not yours.  They have to do the walking! So, get out there and find some open doors, fill your heart, your mind, and your soul up with inspiration, wonderment, connection, and ease.  Then, leave your door open to other well-intentioned people, so they too may live a very full, and happy life.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 215.  In The Books.

Don’t Be Sidetracked By Suffering. Approach It With Sincerity And Compassion Instead.

Honesty And Sincerity

The only way for self-compassion to work is to approach it with honesty, and sincerity.  I would be a pretty poor teacher if I did not struggle with my own practice, at times.  Recently, I trained a little too strenuously at the gym, and have to work with a tightened back. I also watched a show that reminded me of my greatest vulnerability: that some day I might lose my grandmother, my mother, and my Aunt Susan.  In times like these, self-compassion asks that we greet these challenges with a gentle curiosity, the ability to notice how these challenges feel in the moment, and how to accept that they are present, even if done so with resignation.

It would be easy to ignore these issues, run from them with distraction, or pretend that they are needless worries, but somewhere inside me would be building up these concerns, while simultaneously doing nothing to accept that I come by them genuinely, and am allowed to be aggrieved by them.  That is what is necessary for true self-compassion to take place. 

Suffering And Grief Sidetracks Us

We fear suffering and grief.  That is why we run from them, but the faster we run, the more they own us.  We start to change our lives to avoid these feelings, and lose important opportunities for self-acceptance, and love.  Personally, I love to train, so it is important for me to accept that some days I will have some pain, and can honor that pain without allowing it to determine my future actions.  Similarly, I love my grandmother, and my mother, and my Aunt Susan more than anything in the known or unknown worlds.  I want to honor that.  I also want to honor the fear of losing them.  And, I want to do both things, so that I am free to love them without reservation right now.

How Not To Be Sidetracked By Suffering And Grief

We always think that actively changing our experience will make it better, and that it will give us control, but often times the need to change it is what controls us, and the changes we make only strengthen that control.  So honor your thoughts, your wishes, your body, those you love most, your fears, your dreams, and everything in between.  Get to know your experience as a kind friend would, give yourself permission to feel as you do naturally, and bring kindness to this experience, so that you are free to live your life instead of having your life live you.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 203.  In The Books.

If You Truly Desire To Be Of Service To Others, Serve Yourself First!

Threshold For Self-Compassion

There is no threshold for self-compassion, and if there was, it would be existing amongst the living.  Life is hard, and to endure it with focus, meaning, sincerity, and ease, we need to be able to practice self-compassion.  When times are not so tough, it is not that difficult for people to understand this, but somehow when there are terrible things happening in the world, people bring out this sliding scale for self-compassion.  According to this sliding scale, if your degree of suffering does not equal that of others, then you can not in good faith practice self-compassion.


I understand that people believe in fairness, and want to give the appropriate credit to those people, who suffer tremendously.  However, ironically, denying yourself self-compassion is at cross purposes with wishing a better life for people with extraordinary suffering.  You can only give what you have in the tank, and if you are not practicing self-compassion, you will actually have less compassion to give to these people.  This would be akin to starving yourself to feed those without food. No, by all means, eat so that you have the energy to get these people the proper resources. 

Finding The Space For Self-Compassion And Compassion For Others

Our society has long been built on the approval of others, which is unfortunate because other people are as flawed as you, and have no purpose sitting in judgment, but also because life is about living and contributing.  Waiting to be judged or judging is simply a distraction from your task.  It serves nobody.  You want to help others, then go help them.  Make sure you are taking amazing care of yourself, so that you can make the biggest impact! 

Carrying guilt and causing others guilt is nothing more than procrastination from making a difference.  We come by these mistakes naturally because society has functioned as such for so long.  So, when you find yourself making this mistake, acknowledge it, remember that you come by it naturally, then by kind to yourself to create space to do the same for others.

Only through self-compassion will you find the strength to follow your path, and give back to others, and only through self-compassion will you find the means to tolerate the great suffering that presents itself, at times.  Never forget that the way out of suffering is compassion, and not judgment.  Judgment is just a way to vindicate our anger, and give ourselves permission to not give back.  Believe in yourself.  You are truly capable of doing good for yourself, and others.  When judgment shows up, greet it like an old friend, and let it pass with the knowledge that your best efforts in all things have yet to come.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 200.  In The Books.

Self-Compassion For The Instigator

The Instigator

Sometimes, we need self-compassion the most for our unanticipated difficulties.  For instance, the friend or acquaintance, who is a little unsure of himself, and has to compensate by trying to rouse us to anger, frustration, or self-consciousness.  Their strategy is based on pursuing their targets with some charm, and pretense of positive intention, while insidiously trying to wear down their self-confidence.  The goal is to get social approval and perceived power from the people, who surround them.

You do not need to get defensive, you just need to get angry to let these kind of personalities win.  It gives them the sense that they have power over your emotions, and given the dearth of self-confidence they have, now they will try even harder to upset or unnerve you.  Eventually, you will tire of this pursuit, and relent, and they will emerge victorious from this conversation.

Self-Compassion Steps For Managing The Instigator

To be successful, the instigator requires you to be defensive and not self-compassionate.  Once you acknowledge that their words have upset you, then you can acknowledge that you have come by these feelings naturally, and you can be kind to yourself.  This will instill confidence in you.  You will immediately see the limits of the instigator’s power, and begin to feel how strange it is to pretend to be friendly with someone, and pick on them just to get the social approval of others.  I mean, how confident can someone really be who depends on others for approval?

Once, you have established this process, you will be more apt to observe and bring kindness to these attempts swiftly, which will leave you more time to call the other person out, or simply move on to a more meaningful conversation.  How do you call them out?  Simply say, “Wow, this is a weird conversation.  Maybe, there is somebody else you would like to confess your feelings to?” 

In this way, you take care of yourself by acknowledging that there is nothing in this conversation for you, and you allow the other person to apologize or find someone else with whom to continue their discussion.”  Some people like to instigate each other.  Who knows?  You might just be pushing them in the direction of a future best friend!

No Time To Waste

Never forget.  Your time is valuable!  You are deserving of kindness, and support on your journey.  You do not have time to take a detour for someone else’s ego, and it would not truly serve them in the end, anyway.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 199.  In The Books.

Am I The One? 4 Easy Self-Compassion Steps To Discover Your Destiny

Where Science Meets Mysticism

Self-Compassion is a funny thing because it answers mystical questions with a scientific process.  That makes it both logical and ironic, perhaps, two of our most prized possessions.  We enjoy puzzles and the deductive reasoning we need to solve them.  Yet, when faced with an inspiring story, real or imagined, we often ask, “Am I The One?”  In other words, will my story be similar to the one I have just witnessed?  Of course, we might apply a scientific process to this, but we don’t.  Instead, we incline forward, and wait for a sign.

One of my favorite parts of self-compassion practice is that it enables us to discover our purpose by allowing us the opportunity to understand what we need to be happy and healthy first.   By purpose, I mean a continually inspiring, and revitalizing process that enables us to leave the world better than we found it.

4 Easy Self-Compassion Steps To Discover Your Destiny

I think that is enough of an intro.  Let’s look at how you can use self-compassion to decide if you are the one, unless you would prefer to remain naïve, in which case you should stop reading. 

So, step one, imagine that you are stranded on a desert island with all of the family and the people you love most.  Money and power no longer exist, and you have found the perfect mate.  If you could only have one job what would it be?  Second, what would this job require of you?  Third, what would you need to ensure you were healthy enough to do this job over a lifetime?  Fourth, name one daily practice that you could do to take care of yourself. 

Now, imagine this life.  If you find that you are distracted by money, power, or material desires, then this job is not for you.  These thoughts might be a natural consequence of life, but when you imagine your true destiny, it should be so pervasive that these things are far from your immediate experience.  Once you arrive at a completely engaging purpose, you will have the blueprint for your destiny.


Since, you have figured out your destiny, you should probably take some time to celebrate, and do something that just feels good to you.  Think about how you might be kind to yourself right now, and remember later that you accomplished your dreams by treating yourself with warmth, respect, and compassion.  If these things remain in place throughout your life, it will likely always be fulfilling.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 193.  In The Books.

You Can’t Get More Sleep, But You Can Get More Energy

More Sleep? 

People ask me a lot of questions about self-compassion, but one of my favorites involves sleep.  I think that I like it because I know how prevalent an issue interrupted sleep is, and sleep deprivation, and how little support people get for its sometimes very harsh effects.  When I am asked about sleep, people almost always want to know how they can get more hours of sleep?  The kicker is always that they do not actually have more time in the day to sleep.  They just wish they had more.

Most people cannot find more time to sleep, and the ones that can often struggle to sleep anyway.  The latter group feels even more disappointed, when they schedule more hours, and reap the same benefits.  Self-Compassion is about acceptance, so instead of adding more hours, we find ways to be a little more accepting to fill you with more hope, optimism, and helpful energy.  A side effect to this process is that it normally increases the amount or at least the quality of sleep too.  The poor sleep-better energy plan is a three-step process.

Three Steps To More Energy

Step One, acknowledge that it is not your fault that you cannot sleep or your job to make yourself sleep.  Sleep is something that we come by naturally.  You cannot actually force yourself to sleep, so the good news is that you are not deserving of any blame or self-criticism, when you are getting less than ideal sleep.  We honor this reality when sleep is not happening or is disturbed, and because not sleeping really stinks, we find a way to comfort and be kind to ourselves.  The best parents always comforted their children, who struggled to sleep, and it always worked.  We are older, but evolutionarily and genetically responsive to the same efforts, even when they come from ourselves.

Step Two, Find something to do that will keep your mind just busy enough, so that you are not lost in reflection about not sleeping or tomorrow, but not so busy that it wakes you up more.  No matter what time of the night or morning it is, it is not tomorrow.  Tomorrow does not start until you have to be awake to manage your responsibilities.  Thoughts about tomorrow can wait.  Spend your time right now taking really good care of yourself.  Taking the time to relax and rejuvenate, even if you are not fully asleep, will have very positive affects for tomorrow’s efforts.

Step Three, when you wake up, stick to your basic routine. A lot of people wake of after a night of disturbed sleep or prolonged insomnia, and decide that they are going to change their routine a lot to compensate for the poor sleep.  This is a mistake.  Your body and mind are grounded by routines, which allow them to rest easier and recover.  Especially, when recovering from a poor night’s sleep, you want to be able to rely on these routines to feel well, and also to prime yourself for just another day.

More Energy And Eventually Better Sleep

If you follow these three steps, you should have more energy, and in time, will probably sleep better and longer because your worries will be balanced with self-compassion, kindness, and good self-care.  Kids don’t need to not have nightmares.  They just need somebody to reassure and love them, when they do to be able to rediscover restful sleep. 

Your age will not change this secret.  So, forget about infomercials that promise you 25 different pillows, sleep mattresses, or ways you can proactively work while other people sleep.  They may be fun, but they will not be restful.  What you really need is just the self-compassion to take yourself off the hook for poor sleep, and to comfort yourself with warmth, affection, and some light distraction.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 184.  In The Books.