Health Compassion

Finding Love And Happiness By Overcoming Our Need To Be Right

Self-Compassion Blog.  Finding Love And Happiness By Overcoming Our Need To Be Right.

Striving To Be Right

One of the most mind-boggling ideas out there is that other people value you based on how often you are right.  Being right makes people feel confident, and at ease in their relationships, while being wrong causes people to feel unsure and anxious.  It makes sense that we feel more comfortable in an ever-changing world, if we feel that we understand it.  Somewhere deep down inside we know that we cannot understand everything, so we opt for the next best thing: to know more than everyone else.  It’s ok to think it.  Yes, we desire to be know-it-alls. 

The Know-It-Alls and The Know-Nothings

But, despite how great being right feels, it blinds us from what the experience is like for the person, who is wrong.  They feel incompetent and helpless.  If we follow this logic, the know-it-alls, by their very nature, make others feel like know-nothings, and know-nothings feel bad about themselves, which makes them not want to hang around with the know-it-alls.  If a good life is judged by the company we keep, how do we judge the life of someone, who cannot keep any company at all?  My guess is that we find it to be a sad one.

Learning To Choose Relationships Over Rightness

If you learn nothing else from this blog, savor this invaluable piece of relationship insight: people will often feel about you the way you make them feel about themselves.  If you make them feel like losers all the time, they will feel sad, and they will identify you as a sad person.  If you make them feel like winners all the time, they will feel happy, and you will be recognized as a happy person.  Despite this seemingly impossible dichotomy, you really only need to make them feel appreciated, which requires just the occasional win.  So, do yourself the kindness of letting go of your need to be right all the time, instead making room for the love, compassion, and ease people will naturally feel in the presence of someone, who prioritizes these characteristics themselves.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 272.  In The Books.

Just A Spoonful of Sugar Makes The Medicine Go Down

Self-Compassion Blog.  Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

A Spoonful Of Sugar

Like most kids, I hated medicine growing up, and my mother would always remind me of Mary Poppin’s famous phrase, “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”  Years later, I realize that it was my mother’s kindness that functioned as the sugar, when I needed to muster up the fortitude to gulp down a gross heaping of some purple or green colored syrup.

The Problem With Complaining

As adults, we have responsibilities that can be difficult, replete with unappetizing choices and actions.  Our tendency is to complain about these things in a way that only makes them harder to complete.  We go on longwinded monologues that make these choices out to be greater and greater catastrophies.  Then, we do something really odd.  We try to harden ourselves or toughen up, sometimes literally grimacing, as we force ourselves to complete the necessary actions.  A well-known fact is that actions you reward will be easy to repeat and those that you punish will be harder.  So, why do we punish ourselves for completing a difficult action, when it will only make it harder to do in the future?

A Solution For Completing Life’s Undesirable Tasks

There are many ways I can answer this question, but because you are probably in a hurry, let’s look at a solution instead.  When you come across something distasteful that you must do to have a good life, rather than focus on how much you dislike it or the pain it causes you, instead focus on why you are doing it, and frame it as something that is beneficial to your well-being.  Additionally, use your self-talk to say nice, affirming things during and after the process.  This will do two things for you.  First, being kind will give you the necessary resources to complete the action.  Second, rewarding yourself will make it easier to do in the future, and you might even feel good about it.

Living An Inspiring, Meaningful Life of Ease

Next time you are faced with an annoying or even repugnant responsibility that is necessary for you to have a good life, use a spoonful of sugar.  It makes the medicine go down.  If you are worried about not being tough enough, fear not, life will give you more than enough challenges, and you can grimace and flex your way to the finish line if you so desire.  But, it might be helpful to know, you do not get extra points for punishing yourself, just a harder life, with less energy for building meaningful relationships, accomplishing goals, and living a life that inspires and sets you at ease.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 268.  In The Books.

No More Stress, Only Compassion!

Self-Compassion Blog.  No More Stress, Only Compassion.

A Great Epiphany

No more stress, only compassion is a mantra one of my patients adopted because he was tired of feeling stressed about everything.  It was a great epiphany.  How many of us stress about something potentially important only to find ourselves, moments later, stressing about unimportant stuff?  You may be really upset that there are never enough blue m&m’s, but does it have to hijack your well-being for the day?  It’s not just the m&m’s.  It’s the audacity of the guy in front of you to paint his car pink, or his aged female passenger who bedazzled her phone.  You bite your lip at the person, who dares to walk diagonally rather than horizontally across the street, finally losing it when the cashier licks her finger as she counts each bill of your change.  I agree that the last example is not hygienic, but probably no worse than where that money has already been.

You Got To Care About The Right Stuff

It’s important to care, but as my old boxing coach, Tommy Connors says, “You got to care about the right stuff.” He wanted me to focus on training exercises that directly translated to ring performance, but it is great advice for our daily lives.  You only have so much energy and focus.  If it is used up on events that are not directly related to increasing the quality of your life or the quality of other’s lives, then it is time wasted.  Or in Tommy’s words, “See how well that fancy stuff helps you, while the other guys is clobbering you.”

The Mantra

The mantra is both a great mindfulness and self-compassion technique because a. it brings you back to the present, and b. it reminds you that a life worth living comes from values steeped in self-compassion.  If you are thinking self-compassionately, you will zero in on the values that help you and others live good lives.  This, in turn, will help you let go of the need to attend to unnecessary distractions.  Sometimes, it’s good to be selfish.  No more stress, only compassion.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 264.  In The Books.

Self-Compassion For Your Need To Feel Cool

Self-Compassion For Your Need To Feel Cool

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.

5 Easy Self-Compassion Steps To Deal With The Heat

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The Heat

We need self-compassion for the heat.  It blurs our makeup.  It makes a mess of our hair.  It makes our clothes cling in ways we wish it would not.  It affects our skin, our sleep, our focus, and our ability to contain our anger.  I once lived in New Orleans, and folks there would brag about the climate, but be sure to make an exception for the murder months.  According to those that lived in the area, crime, especially violent crime, would escalate in the hottest months.  I mention these things because people (especially those from colder climates) find it hard to give themselves compassion for warmer days, and it’s good to know they are not alone.

Self-Compassion Steps For Managing The Heat.

The first step in managing warmer days is to dress as light as your self-image and job allows.  Some people still opt for heavier fabrics because it masks their bodies more than lighter fabrics.  Do what makes you feel most at ease. 

The second step is to bring a change of clothes with you, a small towel, and some facial soap.  In most work places, there are no proper showers that you can use, when you really need a break from the heat, but there are normally clean sinks available, which should be enough.  It is ok to do this once a shift.  Washing your face too often will dry it out.  If you feel sticky and gross multiple times a day, think about carrying around Shea Butter baby wipes.  They will absorb the oil without over-drying your skin.  I use Tugaboos, which are made by Rite Aid.

The third step is to give yourself permission to feel however you feel.  Hey, it’s your body.  Let other people worry about their own bodies. 

The fourth step is to notice how you have come by your feeling naturally, to soften around the tense parts of your body, and to give yourself permission to let this feeling go. 

The fifth step is to take breaks when you can to rehydrate, and get some air.  This will cool you down, and it is a great and inexpensive way to be kind to yourself.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 252.  In The Books.

Dog Compassion

Dog Compassion

In this entry, we are going to look at a specific flavor of self-compassion that I call dog compassion.  If you know me, then you know I am a lover of all animals, especially dogs.  There is something about an animal that seems to love you know matter what, and offers their own version of a hug through cuddling or jumping front paws first into our arms that makes us feel like we are enough.  I came up with dog compassion for people, who have memories of important caregivers, who packaged mistreatment under the guise of compassion.  The only thing worse than not getting compassion is when someone treats you terribly, and calls it compassion.

Practicing Dog Compassion

Thus, in order to practice self-compassion without getting an automatic response of chills, sadness, or disgust, I give patients some distance between themselves and other humans by using dog compassion.  I ask them to think of an animal (so long as they like animals) doing something kind for another animal.  Then, I ask them to think of an animal doing something compassionate for a human.  After which, I ask them to imagine sitting with the suffering an animal might go through, such as pain, missing animals or humans, sickness, and disappointment.  I ask them if they can relate to these feelings, and urge them to offer compassion to these animals, and to sneak themselves in there as just another animal that is deserving of compassion.

Dog Compassion Is Enough

Sometimes, it takes as much as months, but people are eventually able to transition to human compassion, although (and this bears saying) this transformation is not actually necessary to be kind to yourself.  As kindness is the goal, feel free to practice dog compassion for the rest of your days, and know that you and your practice are more than enough.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 249.  In The Books.

24 Hours To Live

The Exercise

I have a secret self-compassion exercise that I use, when times are tough and I am struggling with irreconcilable issues.  It has helped me tremendously.  I call it 24 hours to live.  As evident in the name, I acknowledge my feelings and, with self-compassion, I ask myself what I would do if I had 24 hours to live.  In both the mindfulness and self-compassion traditions, it is a well-known fact that you cannot accurately predict future events, and because I cannot know how long I have to live, it is good practice to allow for the possibility that I do not have much time left.  In this way, I am able to be fully present, but also have an opportunity to process and grieve the lack of control I have over how long I have to live.

The Next 24 Hours

Once the exercise begins, I do my best to live the next 24 hours, as I would, if they were my last.  Of course, I have some awareness that they are not my last 24 hours, so I do not organize a family/friend meeting point at which I can tell every person I love how much they mean to me.  Otherwise, the rules remain the same.  I try to let go of everything that stands in the way of me experiencing life as it is, doing my best to accept it, and sending my love out into the universe in any way I can, since that is how I would want to spend my last 24 hours.  Yours can be whatever feels natural to you.

Making Peace

In this way, I am able to make peace with my humanity, my struggles, my hopes, my dreams, and my purpose, and at least for 24 hours, I am able to live fully, and simply.  I think we all take for granted how complicated and sometimes unnecessarily stressful our experience can be, and it just feels good to take a break from this even if just for a short while.  I highly recommend it.

Give it A Try

So, wherever you are and however you feel, if this feels like an exercise that would be helpful to you, see if you can take the next 24 hours to live, as you would, if they were all you had left.  Bring some compassion to your wish to do all things for all people, and simply be.  My guess is that it will help rearrange your priorities in a way that feels right to you.  I am not saying that it will completely change your life, but it might do that.  At the very least, it will give you one more opportunity to practice self-compassion, and there is nothing wrong with that.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 248.  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. 

Self-Compassion For Those Rainy Day Blues

Rainy Day Blues

We need self-compassion for our rainy day blues.  Raindrops in the morning make us want to pull the sheets the rest of the way over our heads, and hide out in a pillow fort, like the ones we made as children.  There is something about the rain that tells our brain, “Maybe no work today.  This is rest time.”  In terms of Evolutionary Psychology, this makes sense.  Think about it.  Lots of rain means poor visibility.  Poor visibility means that it is hard to hunt, hard to travel, and hard to see your enemies.  Thousands of years ago, these were all concerns that needed to be taken seriously, and perhaps the best response to these concerns then was to stay at home and rest. 

Bed

For all these reasons, it is hard to get out of bed on rainy days.  Nevertheless, we trudge on out of our homes with bags, and rain boots, and umbrellas, often looking a little disheveled like we did as elementary school students so many years ago.  The wet weather has a way of bringing us back to our youth, which may be heart warming or frustrating depending on whether the moment has you longing to look more youthful or whether it has you wishing to appear organized and neat. We chuck our belongings into our respective cars, and begin our long drives to school or work.  The rain makes people drive a little slower, which means a little more effort on our parts to get to where we are going.

Work

Once we reach our destinations, we still find it odd to see so many people at work.  Don’t they know it’s raining?  Much like their driving, people tend to work a little slower on rainy days.  When one rainy day becomes many rainy does, this process leads to a sense of malaise.  So, we try the two skills we have at our disposal to feel better: avoidance and approach.  With the former, we try to avoid our sad, tired, and frustrated feelings with food, warm beverages, articles, and videos.  With the latter, we tell coworkers how much we love rainy days.  We make it a point to display our new rain boots.  We even think about getting inclement weather gear, so we can exercise in the rain.

Despite our best efforts, we still feel sad or anxious.  We feel sad because our attempts to avoid our feelings just put them off.  We feel anxious because we are preventing our body from feeling sad, and working really hard to do so in the process, which leaves us feeling tense and uncomfortable.  In either case, we are missing the one thing we need to acknowledge our experience and move on, namely self-compassion.

Simple Self-Compassion Steps For The Rainy Day Blues

Self-Compassion tells us that we do not need to get rid of our feelings.  Our fears about having our life ruined by feelings are just fears.  Fear, after all, is just another feeling.  Instead, we need to acknowledge our feelings.  We need to ground these feelings in our bodies by noticing where they come up.  We need to soften around these tense areas to give way to a greater sense of ease.  We also need to acknowledge that we come by these feelings naturally, so that we can allow ourselves to feel them, and let them go.  Then, do something really kind for yourself.  In this way, rainy days cease to be a time to simply mourn the beautiful days that could have been, but rather present an opportunity to practice self-compassion, to accept that you and your feelings are enough, and to express gratitude to all the noble people before us, who lived through the rain, so that we could be alive today.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 246.  In The Books.  

Easy Self-Compassion Steps For Managing Your Biggest Problem

Your Biggest Problem

Finding self-compassion for your biggest problem will not be easy, but boy is it necessary.  For most people, their biggest problem is figuring out who they are and what they want.  Most secondary problems are merely ways of avoiding these two questions.  For example, they choose a job or an educational path that they later find unfulfilling.  They complain about aspects of each that are out of their control, such as bosses or work that they neither find stimulating or meaningful. 

You Need To Know Who You Are And What You Want To Be Free

There is no clear solution to their problem because in the absence of knowing what they want they will be a prisoner to the demands of others.  Romantic relationships provide a similar conundrum in so far as it is impossible to know what to ask for or whether someone is a good fit if you do not know who you are or what you want.  People defer to the demands of others because sometimes it is easier to follow than to lead, but eventually they become unhappy, when their not fully understood needs go unmet.

Self-Inventory

The truth is that it is scary to look at yourself, scars and all, and take an inventory of where you have been, what you have experienced, what has inspired you, and what one or two things you could do with your life that would give it the most meaning and make the best use of your unique skillset.  This path is normally one that requires sacrifice and failure, and people are only too aware of these risks, and seek umbrage under the cover of someone else’s business or a romantic partner’s needs.  There are two things that will give them the courage necessary to walk this vital path.  First, you will need self-compassion for the challenges that it proposes because you must have a self that is well cared for to try something out of your comfort zone.  Second, you need to pick something that you are so passionate about that it feels like a greater risk to not do it than to do it.

Easy Self-Compassion Steps For Managing Your Biggest Problem

Now that you know what you need, let’s use self-compassion to help you get it.  Take five minutes out of your day to sit somewhere quiet, and get some notecards and a pen.  Imagine that you have been transported to an island, where you desire people to both understand you and give you a job that you enjoy.  You can only tell them about one quality that will help them to figure out how to be kind to you, and only one characteristic of a potential job that they can use to find you one that you will find fulfilling.  Write these down.  Imagine being on the island, and feeling completely fulfilled, at ease, and inspired. 

Now, go back to the two things you have written down.  The first is your most important value.  The second is your most important desire.  Think of a job or an area of study that combines the two, and note them both as essential qualities that must be supported if not shared in a potential partner.  You will probably feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety.  Notice these feelings.  Name them.  Accept that they are a natural part of this process, and notice how they slowly pass away as you shift your attention back to your breath.  Then, do something really kind for yourself.  With this newfound well-being, make a plan to do one thing a day to use this blueprint to pursue the job/studies and relationships that will be good fits for you.  Nothing is promised to those who venture nothing.  Much is promised to those, who take risks with a kind heart and an open mind.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 244.  In The Books.