Self-Kindness

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.

Self-Compassion For Your Desire To Leave A Legacy

Self-Compassion For Your Desire To Leave A Legacy

Your Desire To Leave A Legacy

We need self-compassion for our desire to leave a legacy.  Since the dawn of mankind, people have tried to leave reminders of their presence in statues, buildings, monuments, and even crudely carved initials or drawings.  To balance the difficulties that life throws at us, we would like recognition for our efforts in life and death.  For some, leaving lasting change is not only something that gives their life meaning, it is something that helps them get through every day.  And yet, because life is so unpredictable, some days we feel our work has gone unnoticed, and our legacy motivations become legacy stressors.  In these very moments, what we need most is self-compassion.

The Trouble With Legacies

It is easy to look at well-known artists, authors, inventors, those involved with business and politics, and say, “I think I could do that.  What could be more gratifying than creating lasting change?”  However, most of these people suffered greatly in their tasks, and were not fully recognized (or recognized at all) until years after they died. Transforming some part of the world means that you will have to work through very tough days without recognition.  Fortunately, you can use self-compassion to ensure that you get the rewards and care you need to persevere through these trying times.

Self-Compassion Steps For Managing Legacy Problems  

During those days in which you feel overlooked, stressed, and disappointed in others or your own efforts, name one of these feelings.  Notice where there is tension in your body, and soften around these parts.  Note how you have come by these feelings naturally.  It is so hard to work at creating change, and even harder to feel that your efforts are not valued.  Because it would be futile to try to control the future, instead we are going to focus on creating opportunities for change, since that is the one thing we can control.  Regardless of the outcome, we are going to reward ourselves for having the courage to act.  Slowly, your mind and body will get the sense that there is someone, who will always recognize and reward them for their efforts, someone they can always count on, you.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 250.  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.

Feed The Dog: Supporting The Most Intriguing Vehicle Of Self-Compassion

The Dog

Self-Compassion has many intriguing vehicles, but the dog is perhaps the most captivating of them all.  In all of us, lies a fighter.  It is the part of us that cries out at injustice, that desires to be free from suffering, that manifests as stress, frustration, anger, or even a verbal outburst, when our well-being is being taken for granted.  When we become too tired or too reticent to speak out against such harm or persuade ourselves to pony up, and advocate for good treatment, then we need to rely on our inner fighter, our dog.  We need to feed this dog by appreciating the anxiety, frustration, and anger that arises, when we are mistreated, and even the outbursts that cause those who would harm us to think twice about their actions.

Misunderstanding The Dog

We often misunderstand anger, anxiety, frustration, and infrequent outbursts as lesser qualities.  We see them as weaknesses that create misery and feelings of failure in our life.  When, in fact, these responses are actually our bodies’ self-compassionate responses to too much harm, even if the harm is not intentional.  Our body wants us to have well-being, and sometimes it is not enough to gently urge us.  Sometimes, it needs to fight a little bit.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not advocating that you take your frustration out on others or aggress people to get your needs met, but I am also not telling you to fall to your knees, and beg them to be kind to you either.  You deserve kindness from yourself and others.  You owe it to no one to apologize or plead for this in any way.  It is an important strength to be able to advocate for yourself, and more important to be accepting of the parts of our experience, while not always garnering social applause, exist to protect us, when we fail to do so with ease.

How To Feed The Dog

So, how do you feed this dog?  Notice, when frustration, anger, anxiety, and aggression (verbal, physical) emerge.  Notice where they are in your body.  Soften around them.  Recognize them for their attempts to keep us safe from harm.  Reward them with kind words (e.g., thank you for showing up to protect me, or thank you for making it impossible for me to ignore that my most basic needs are not being met).  Accept these feelings, and take action (if you can) to advocate for yourself, so that your body does not feel like it has had to show up in vain.

Must Love Dogs

There you are.  Feed the dog.  Accept the dog.  Love the dog.  Reward the dog.  The dog keeps you safe.  Also, make time to surround yourself with others that support your self-advocacy practice and general wish for well-being.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 163.  In The Books.

The Four Most Important Questions You Must Ask To Live A Happy Life

The Good Life: Obstacles And Resources

Self-Compassion covers a wide array of topics, but essentially it exists to make sure that you have a good life.  Let’s look at the obstacles, and then the resources to this so-called good life.

Obstacles

Most things appear too simple to us, and we find ourselves enjoying them more, when we bespeckle them with complications, plot twists, and provocative emotions.  For example, this is not just a bonsai tree.  It is a tree that I have named Jennifer after my maternal great-grandmother that grows with sincere appreciation for my well-being, when I am kind to it.  Of course, it also punishes me by wilting, when I am less attentive.  Complication, drama, unexpected behaviors and responses, we love them all.  So, it makes sense that we do the same thing in determining if we are living a contented life.

The problem with complicating the question of whether or not you are living a happy life is that life is already so complicated that complicating it further will only ensure that you never get an answer to your original question.  This is one of those do I want to feel important or do I want to be happy cases that we have heard so much about. 

Resources

For the purposes of self-compassion, we would like to be happy, so let’s take a brief respite from complicated drama, and get down to the brass tacks.  There are only 4 questions that we must ask to decipher whether we are living a happy life.

Question 1: Are You Willing And Able to Manage Hardship When It Comes?

I know.  You were hoping that we could avoid hardship, but we cannot, so it is important to be able to accept and endure it to live a happy life.  Living a contented life does not require that we live without suffering, but rather that we do not let it ruin our wish to be healthy and pursue what makes us happiest.  It can be boiled down to a five-word motto: Accept, And Don’t Give Up.  

Question 2: Are You Kind To Yourself?  

The only thing worse than other people being unkind to you is being unkind to yourself.  Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that if we are tough enough on ourselves, then other people and life will not be.  Life and other people do not care how tough you are on yourself, so you might as well be the kindest freaking person on the planet to yourself, so when hardship arrives the well you will have to draw from will run deep.  Additionally, being kind to yourself is just a nice way of remembering that you are worthy of and have recently received love.  If you find something better than love, please call me as soon as possible because I will want some of that thing immediately.

Question 3: Are You Willing To Accept Yourself Just As You Are? 

The thing is that this is it.  This is you.  Sure, you will learn some new things, and you may even change.  Ok, you will definitely change, but not in terms of the very essence of you, the you that you are deep down in your soul, the you that you have been since you were born.  This you is already unique, and amazing.  We need this you.  We love this you.  If you want to be happy, then you need to love this you too.

Question 4: Are You Building A Life That Prioritizes Your Well-Being?

Sometimes, we get so busy dealing with life’s tough stuff that we are persuaded that life is about living in a place of hardship.  We think that if we plan a life of hardship that we will become immune.  Ironically, we will just be guaranteeing that we will always suffer.  That plain stinks. 

There are no two ways about it.  If you have a chance to feel good, even if it is for just a second, then reach out and grab it, and savor that delicious goodness until the very last drop.  Some people worry that because there are people who are suffering that it is somehow wrong to have a good second, minute, hour, day, week, or year.  Baloney! 

Most people, who suffer and are able to be honest with themselves just want to enjoy their lives, and they want that for all people.  Do not let your suffering or the suffering of others prevent you from planning a happy life.  Do not give up on this plan just because disappointment pops up.  Disappointment is merely a sign that you are meant for well-being somewhere, and with someone else.  Go Get That Well-Being!

The End

What was that?  You want more?  You cannot have more.  Get out there, and have that good life. If you want to live in a world that promotes happiness, then you are going to have to start by setting an example.  Ground yourself and your worries in your self-compassion practice, focus on acceptance and endurance, self-kindness, self-acceptance, and by prioritizing your well-being.  And, for goodness sake, reward yourself.  You are doing the real work!

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 162.  In The Books.