Self-Development

Self-Compassion For Those Long days

Self-Compassion For Those Long Days

Long Days

We need self-compassion for those long days.  The trouble with long days is not having to deal with one long day.  Most of us can grit our teeth, and bear down, as we push through a day with little sleep, and lots of obligations.  You know the days I am talking about.  You drink a little more caffeine, eat a little more food, and grumble to yourself and others.  It’s not pretty, but we tend to make it to the finish line with enough of our sanity to spread on a sandwich.

Long Days Are Contagious

The real trouble with long days is that they are contagious.  After a long day, our autonomic nervous system is active.  Our bodies are a little warmer, and something about this overwrought feeling makes it hard to get to sleep.  And so, one long day turns in to two, and so on and so forth.  It is not too long before we are burned out, and although we may be able to get out of bed and to work, this kind of unhealthy cycle tends to affect our relationships negatively. 

The Effect Of Long Days On Your Mood

A long time ago, they ran a sleep study on astronauts in space because what else are you going to do out there?  Check the weather?  “It’s still black, and full of stars!”  “Thanks, Kevin!”  So, each day they were deprived of more sleep, and they measured the effects of this condition.  The results are pretty funny, if you know what to look for.  Basically, they acknowledge that you still have enough cognitive function to perform basic tasks and some higher level ones with as little as 5 hours of sleep.  However, they also mentioned that there would be some mood dysregulation.  That’s right!  You are surviving on 5 hours of sleep, but letting loose on every innocent person, who gives you the slightest reason.  The moral of this story is that too many long days have consequences.

Self-Compassion For Long Days

So, how can we practice self-compassion for long days?  First, acknowledge that you are experiencing a long day, and the physiological effects it is having on your body.  Second, take more breaks to help you recover from the extra stress.  It will be easier to shutdown at the end of the day, if you have practiced shutting down throughout it.   Third, when it is time to go to bed, notice how you feel.  Name it.  Make room for it.  Notice how you have come by it naturally, and allow these feelings to pass, as you drift off to sleep.  Give yourself some extra time to rest, as it will probably take you longer to fall asleep.  Finally, do your very best to allocate time over the next day or two to take it easy, and rest.  We would all like to pretend that long days never happened because they stink, and effect productivity.  Nevertheless, if you want to be happy and well you are better served by honoring your experience, and bringing compassion to it.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 260.  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.

Self-Compassion For The Insecure People In Your Life

Self-Compassion For The Insecure People In Your Life

Insecure People

We need self-compassion for the insecure people in our lives.  For years, patients have come in to see my freaked out by unforeseen flaws and shortcomings.  Upon further inspection, we often discover that these new attributes are those carried by their friends.  This is what happens with our insecure friends.  Life causes them anxiety, and because they lack the security to self-soothe, they need to get rid of these worries by projecting them on to us.  Sometimes, they give us these disempowering characteristics because it makes them feel empowered or needed.

I imagine that you are flashing back to old friendships, old discussions, painful criticisms that you carried, and perhaps still carry.  Maybe you are thinking of a recent discussion with a current friend.  The important thing is that you are able to see that these people do not do these things on purpose, but rather unconsciously to protect themselves.  It is equally important that you are able to unload these burdensome characterizations, which might be frustrating if you have been trying to correct them for some time.

A Portrait Of An Insecure Interaction

Let me paint a picture to make this process a little more tangible for you.  You are having an innocent conversation with a friend, and happen to mention that you had an argument with your boyfriend/girlfriend.  They respond by saying, “I don’t know why you are such a doormat.  It’s never going to get you anywhere.”  And poof, just like that, you start to doubt yourself.  You think about whether you really do lie down for your relational partners, and give in to their wants.  It had never occurred to you before, but this is a good friend.  Why would they say something like that, if it was not true?  The answer is that they would say something like that if they were feeling anxious, lonely, or unhappy in their own relationship. 

Self-Compassion For The Insecure Friend

Despite how tempting it would be to validate our friends’ insights to make them feel less anxious or more worthy, you would actually be doing them a disservice.  People need to be given the opportunity to resolve their own problems. So, how can we deal with this insecure behavior self-compassionately?  If you are aware of what is happening in the moment, simply acknowledge your friend’s attempt to help you, and help direct their behavior in an affirming way.  Thank you for hearing me out.  I think it is the listening that helps so much.  Do not worry about me.  I am just venting.  It is actually better to ignore their mischaracterization (unless they really push it on you), so that you just reinforce the parts of their contributions that helped you.  Remember, what you reward, people will move toward.   What you ignore will happen no more.

If the harm has been done and your friend is long gone, then imagine their words, feelings, and thoughts.  Take out a box, and neatly package these things inside, making sure to tie a bow around it, so that nothing falls out.  Then, imagine giving it back to your friend.  They are, after all, things that belong to your friend, and best solved in their capable hands.  Then, give yourself permission to let these things go, and do something really kind for yourself.  The experience may not be enjoyable, but it will be a teachable one, and the more we are able to forgive them, the better we will be able to forgive ourselves in the future.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 258.  In The Books.  

Self-Compassion For The Time Suck

Self-Compassion For The Time Suck

The Time Suck

We all need self-compassion for the time suck.  A time suck is any thing, person, or activity that takes you away from the most meaningful activities in your life for a lengthy period of time.  Meaningful activities include work, your passions, and family and friends.  Examples of potential time sucks include large gaps of time spent on social media, streaming videos, or conversations that neither increase your well-being nor further develop your core values (principles that reflect what you feel is important in this life).

Can I Take A Break?

People ask me all the time if it is ok to take breaks.  My response is always the same.  If it replenishes your sense of well-being, and reinforces your self-compassion.  If the break becomes more about avoidance, then it will slowly reinforce fear, and your inability to complete a task.  Both of which happen to us all, but are not self-compassionate.

The Sneakiness of Time Sucks

These time sucks have a way of sneaking into our lives.  We step away from our desks for a short conversation, and suddenly we find ourselves mired in office gossip or a friend’s personal problems.  We are not actually in a position to resolve these issues, and taking time out of our workday only distracts us and causes us stress.  When we cannot extract ourselves from these conversations, we begin to feel helpless, and eventually return to our work feeling unmotivated, and lacking in confidence.  So we turn to the internet, and feel like we are finding well-being through the distraction of other people’s issues or their successes, but somewhere deep down inside we realize that we are not living ours.

Self-Compassion Steps For Managing The Time Suck

So, what can we do to manage the time suck?  First of all, do not panic.  We all get trapped from time to time in conversations, Internet searches, or streaming videos that take us away from meaningful work or replenishing our well-being.  Simply, notice how you feel, and name the feeling.  Second, notice where your body has become tense, and soften around these parts.  Remember, that you come by this experience honestly and without malicious intentions.  Third, validate the speaker, the social media feed, or streaming film by acknowledging the importance of the content.  Give yourself permission to get back to what is helpful for you by adding an “and” to that statement, followed by a mission directive.  Remember, you are always on a mission to live a good life.

You might say, “ I am really sorry to hear about Allen.  That must be tough.  I could talk to you all day, and I have to get to (get back to) work.  I have to go for now, but maybe we can pick this up later.” Believe it or not, you can say the same thing to your thoughts, while on social media or streaming videos.  Then, do something really kind for yourself like allowing yourself some slow exhalations, a self-hug, or simply a mindful walk back to your desk.  Remind yourself that the work you do is important because it is vested in your well-being and the well-being of others.  It is not accomplished by swimming through a sea of praise, or attaining a streak of successes that might vindicate you.  You are already worthy of love, of life, and of well-being.  You put time into your work, your passion, your family, and your friends because just the act of doing so makes your world and the world of others so much better.  Never forget that.  Meaningful actions make it into the heart, and the heart never forgets.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 257.  In The Books.

Self-Compassion For Fake Friends

Self-Compassion For Fake Friends

Fake Friends

Managing Fake friends is one of those self-compassion topics that people ask me to address often.  Initially, I was a little hesitant because dwelling on unhealthy relationships is probably its own issue.  However, I do understand that people, who work in certain fields, and people who are isolated for long hours with their work are vulnerable to people, who pretend to be their friends.  So, what are fake friends?  Fake friends are any group of people, who use the term friend to describe you, but do not join you in your struggles or celebrations, and do not include you in theirs.

How To Spot A Fake Friend

How can you spot a fake friend?  A fake friend says they will call you, but they never do.  A fake friend says they will make plans with you, but they never do.  A fake friend fails to notice your ups and downs, but might comment after hearing others do so.  A fake friend tends to use the word friend to describe you, when they need something or when they are feeling lonely.  A fake friend knows way less about you than you do about them.  Sound like anybody you know?

When Fake Friends Cannot Be Avoided

As mentioned before, fake friends can simply be avoided if you have an abundance of friends and time to make new friends. However, if your efforts are limited by time consuming work or the nature of your work, where fake people are abundant or there are few if any people available to befriend, then fake friends becomes a serious problem.  If you have a million dollars, and I take a few, you might not even notice, but if you only have five dollars, and I take four or five, it is going to hurt.  In the case of friends, being friendless means feeling lonely, and perhaps unloved.

Self-Compassion Steps For Managing Fake Friends

So, how can we remedy this fake friend issue?  First, notice how you feel and name the problem.  Second, notice where there is tension in your body, and soften around these parts.  Third, notice how you have come by this issue naturally, so you can give yourself permission to let it go.  You are a well-meaning person, who is kind enough to share your time with others.  Everyone needs friends.  When these so-called friends abandon us, it hurts.  And, because it hurts, we are deserving of kindness and compassion.  Then, do something really kind for yourself, and find someone (even if they live really far away) to connect or perhaps reconnect with. 

Plan some time into your schedule to meet new people without the obligation of making new friends, but with the wish to do so, and the effort to simply make yourself available.  Do not settle for fake friends.  Such an act only convinces you that you are not worthy of genuine love and affection.  Nothing could be farther from the truth, and it works to your advantage to keep this nonsense far from your heart.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 256.  In The Books.

Five Self-Compassion Steps To Overcome Social Media Rejection

Five Self-Compassion Steps To Overcome Social Media Rejection

Social Media Rejection

Recently, I learned about a phenomenon called social media rejection, and how much people need self-compassion for it.  Social Media Rejection is the phenomenon in which you lose a significant other, a close friendship, or are left out of social invitations or appreciations via a social media update, as indicated by a new status or picture.

Social Media Rejection is unique in many ways.  It shows up as a public artifact; something that is available to large groups of people, and can be accessed an infinite number of times until it is deleted.  Before social media, the reach of such humiliation was less, and your ability to block it was greater.  It is also much easier for people to get access to you with support, gossip, or feigned support.  Of all of these things, it is the shock of seeing it that many find so upsetting.  Because this information has not come from a direct communication with the source, it feels devious, but also potentially unresolvable.  To put it bluntly, if this person wished to resolve this problem with you, then chances are they would have done it directly.

Sometimes, this rejection is indirect, as is the case, when friends or family of the person rejecting you post the new pictures or statuses.  Their intentions play a role in the effects of their actions, but, overall, the response tends to be the same: sadness, loneliness, and hurt. 

The Motivation Behind Social Media Rejection

Why do people resort to such villainy? They mostly do so because it is easy.  Prior to social media, many people chose to no longer include some people in their friendship groups or broke up with them, by letting the frequency of their communications decline until there were no communications at all.  This strategy of avoidance has not changed.  Again, there is no contact from this person.  What has changed is that people feel that social media documentation is necessary for life events to feel real, so without thinking about the potential side effects of doing so, they post their statuses and pictures like they do on all other days.  Of course, the effects are much different. 

Five Self-Compassion Steps To Overcome Social Media Rejection

So, how can we respond with self-compassion to Social Media Rejection?  The first thing you need to do is to take the day off of social media.  When dealing with an open wound, your initial recourse must be to stop the bleeding.  The second thing you need to do is to contact others for support, so that you are not alone with this feeling.  Rejection is strongest, when its prey is a party of one.  Its power lies in its ability to convince you that you are unlovable, which is greatly diminished by the company of others.  

The third thing you need to do is to label this feeling, and allow yourself to feel it.  This will stop your brain from making this one experience a much bigger problem than it is.  The fourth thing you need to do is to accept that you come by this experience naturally, that you are undeserving of its pain, and let it pass through you. 

Lastly, you want to do something really kind for yourself.  You heard me. Get out of your house, and go some place that you feel loved.  Make sure this place has enough going on to capture your attention in a positive way.  Do not avoid your feelings.  When they show up, they show up.  Simply acknowledge them.  Let them pass, and return to the love you have summoned inside and out.  Never forget that you are more than enough no matter your experience. 

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 255.  In The Books.

Self-Compassion For Networking

Self-Compassion For Networking

Networking

We all need self-compassion for networking.  I once worked with a patient, who said that networking was like making small deals with the devil to advance your future.  She told small lies in these conversations, mostly about how much she was enjoying them or her current job, efforts she made to set the other person at ease or to persuade them to give her work.

We Are All In This Together

I think a lot of us feel this way.  There is something odd about responding with overwhelming positivity and excitement to a complete stranger simply to further our exploits in business.  Once in these conversations, we continue this charade with positive responses to any conversational contributions, even those we know that we oppose.  Meanwhile, we stuff all of the real feelings that come up, so as not to damage a good opportunity.  We reframe this effort in the positive with phrases, such as, “I am trying to make a good impression.”  Don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes, we luck out, and genuinely love the people we meet.  But, if that were always the case, networking would probably have a better name like, friend making.

Self-Compassion Steps For Networking

For those of you, who enjoy networking, please share your wisdom and joy with others.  There is always room for more well-being.  If you are amongst the folks, who find networking as comforting as a root canal, here are some helpful self-compassion steps.  First, notice how you are feeling right now, and soften around the parts of you that are feeling tense.  Second, notice how you come by these feelings naturally.  Feeling like you have to perform for strangers is an uncomfortable experience, especially when you are already having a tough day.  Give yourself permission to feel compassion for this experience, and also for the experience of all the other networkers.  They are probably trying to make the best of it just like you!  Then, do something really kind for yourself.  Let out that breath, and remember that you are showing up, which is all you are every really responsible for anyway.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 254.  In The Books.

Self-Compassion For Non-Morning People Working Early Morning Hours

Early Morning

We need self-compassion for the early morning, especially when we are not morning people.  Early in my career, I would see people early in the morning, and they would often remark, “I simply cannot deal with the morning.  There are so many demands, and I am no where close to being awake!”  Internally, I would be nodding my head.  I understood.  The morning is tough for me too.

Morning People VS. Night People

I used to have a mentor, who was a very seasoned psychiatrist.  He told me that blood flow and the body’s tendency towards warmth at certain times during the day would determine whether someone was a morning person or a night person.  I think he would laugh now if I asked him what one should do if they have to wake up early and go to bed late, and were no longer sure that they were an any time of the day person.  Although I kid, the truth is that I still find the energy to be very productive and to develop good relationships, which I attribute to ample self-compassion and love for other people.  

My Self-Compassion Routine For The Early Morning

As you wake up, notice how you feel, and allow yourself to have these feelings without apologizing or trying to change them.  Like a stick floating in the sea, allow these feelings to pass by, observing them as they present themselves and then fade away.  As my old supervisor, Amir, was fond of saying, “They’re just passing by.”  Find a self-compassion routine that both embraces your fatigue, and helps you feel steadily more awake in a nurturing way.  I used to start the day with an espresso and a shower, but after much time spent practicing mindfulness I realized that I was rushing to feel awake.

Now, I give myself a full hour to wake up, and make coffee and a protein shake that I can slowly sip, as my mind warms up gently with mindless videos.   I used to try to wake up with an inspired reading.  Boy, did my brain dislike that!  Once, I am more awake, I take a shower, and dress in clothes that I have put out the night before.  Less work in the morning means less stress, and more well-being.  Finally, I rely on mellow music, and my ride into work to put the final touches on my preparation for the day.  I try to begin each one with a quiet promise to make the best of it.  My mantra is: “Who knows?  Could be fun?”  Then, I  show up, and let the day do the heavy lifting.

What’s Your Routine?

This routine has helped me, and my clients, but I would love to hear about your routines.  Let me know if there is a particular routine that allows you to be aware and at home with how you feel naturally, and gives you permission to respond to this experience with compassion and inspiration.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 253.  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.

Self-Compassion For Our Wish To Be All Things At All Times For Our Family And Friends

Our Wish To Be All Things At All Times For Family And Friends

 Self-Compassion For Our Wish To Be All Things At All Times For Our Family And Friends sounds like a lengthy title, but somehow people know what I am talking about immediately.  When we love other people, we don’t simply wish to be around them.  We hurt for them.  We want for them.  We pray for them.  We want to show up for them, and include them in every facet of our lives.  Let’s be honest.  We are greedy, and trying to keep up with all those wishes and wants leaves us feeling a little ragged. 

Too Much Compassion

Prior to becoming a psychologist, I might have told you that you can never be too compassionate, but working with people of varying caring professions, and important family roles, I can say honestly that this is not true.  If your self-compassion does not make up half the compassion you give, then you are definitely giving too much.  Think of it this way.  The heart gives compassion, which, despite its virtue, results in fatigue.  Self-Compassion gives the heart time to heal and recover.  Without this time, the heart will experience injury, and require substantial time to heal.

Lost In Our Love For Others

I like this topic because it is easy to get lost in our love for others, especially since we live in a world that underrates the amount of work it takes to do so, and the recovery required to love others with consistency.  It does not serve us to pretend tasks are easier than they are because the body experiences all, and you cannot lie to it.  When the body is exhausted, it will simply collapse, no matter how many efforts you make to convince it that it is not tired, or should not be because others say so.  In this way, it is not personal as it applies to all people, and very personal because the effects it will have on you will be unique.

Self-Compassion For Our Wishes To Be Present To Friends And Family

So, how can we make this love last, and take care of ourselves at the same time?  First, notice how you feel in your body right now, and soften around the parts of you that are tense.  Acknowledge that you come by this fatigue and stress naturally, simply because you desire to be a positive influence and companion in the lives of others.  Then, make a list of priorities.  The pen is your friend.  From this list, list two people (if this is realistic) that you can respond to in a day, then write down a few things you need to take care of for work or school, leaving enough space for recovery, and kindness. 

When this is done, go take a walk.  Listen to some relaxing music.  Read a book or watch something that sets you at ease, and gives you a break from your need to assist or be conversive with others.  Before you go to sleep, take some time to breath, noting with each breath, May this breath be enough.  May my efforts be enough.  May my love be enough.  May I be enough.  Then, let this work go, and give yourself permission to let the day pass, as you drift off to sleep.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 251.  In The Books.