Tips And Tricks

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.

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.  

Self-Compassion For What Stands Between You And Happiness

What Stands Between You And Happiness

Self-Compassion is an interesting tool for pursuing happiness.  It does not demand that you maintain the emotion connected with happiness, nor the stereotype of what that might look like (i.e., gleefully skipping through life with a pocket full of candy, and a smile plastered across your face).  Happiness, in self-compassion terms, refers to the state in which you feel that you are and have enough without needing permission from your current emotional experience or access to material resources.  It defies time, thought, and concern by not wrestling with or trying to control these things.  And yet, happiness is still not given away.  You have to fight for it.

Given this version of happiness, you need to know what stands between you and it, if you want to begin this journey.  Of course, there are many obstacles you might mention, but the most powerful of these obstacles is acceptance.  If you cannot accept that you do not currently feel that who you are and what you have is enough, your journey will be over before it begins.  It is a tough pill to swallow, albeit not being tougher than spending the rest of your life pretending to be happy, while knowing deep down inside that you are unsatisfied, and too embarrassed to showcase your true self most of the time.

No One Has Forever

Most people will not attempt this journey.  People love to watch others rise to fame, glory, and success, but they do not want to do the every day things that will get them there.  How many people wear Michael Jordan’s shoes, and have their own dreams, but pretend like supporting Michael’s is enough?  Do not get me wrong, I love Jordans, but mostly because of the silhouette, and because they are reminders that I have my own dreams to pursue, and no time to waste.

Pema Chodron believes that one of the greatest mistakes that we make in pursuing a full, inspiring, meaningful life replete with acceptance is that we fool ourselves into believing that we have forever to accomplish our goals.  At one time or another, we have all uttered the infamous words: “I will do it later.”  The problem is that later never comes.  We are always in the present, hours, days, and even years down the road.  So, later tends to be a poor start time.

The Two Essential Things You Need To Successfully Pursue Happiness

So, it is clear that we need two things, if we are to successfully pursue happiness.  First, we need to live with a sense of urgency.  If you eat, breathe, and sleep something, it will be yours now and forever.  If you admire someone else’s work instead, only they will benefit.  Second, we must accept that in our current state we are not fully accepting of who we are, how we feel, and what we want.  We come by this burden naturally, but also come by an innate desire to live with freedom, self-acceptance, and ease.  Pursue happiness with urgency and honesty.  Release yourself from the confines of this mysterious “later,” and act now.  Acknowledge the burden of not feeling enough with an in-breath, and your profound desire to pursue happiness and self-acceptance anyway with an out-breath.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 245.  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.

Self-Compassion For The Question Of Where You Will Be In Five Years

Where Will You Be In Five Years?

We need self-compassion for the question: where will you be in five years?  It assumes that you are not enough, subtly suggesting that perhaps in five years you will be.  It asks you to take on five years of goals, plans, hopes, dreams, and potential failures.  Despite it being impossible to predict the future with exactitude, you do so anyway, resigned to the pressure it places on you.  It fills you with anxiety about what it means to makes such assertions, when you are unsure if you will even want these things in five months let alone five years.  You do all of these things because this question has become ubiquitous, a social norm, a strange but accepted way to determine if your hopes and dreams align with the goals and desires of others.

The Biggest Problem With This Question

Of course, the biggest problem with this question is that you cannot work on five years from now.  You exist in the present, and working on far reaching goals now makes it impossible for you to work with the things that are important to your life today.  Moreover, these goals suggest that your worth may be determined by your progress towards these goals.  Many people, who feel like they are not moving towards these goals with enough speed, become self-critical, and deprive themselves of compassion and reward.  This is a pretty unpleasant way to live life, and a very easy way to take yourself out of the present, which, ironically, is the only place where you can experience well-being and worthiness.  The past no longer exists and the future will not exist until it becomes the present.

You Hold One Foot In.  You Hold One Foot Out.

So, what do you do?  The advice I give people the most often is to keep one foot in the crazy social expectations of our world (to stay connected to people), and extend one foot out into a world that is only concerned with your well-being and ease in the present moment.  At a conference many years ago, a psychologist was espousing the rewards of being on a rigid path that ignored all social influence, rules, and effects.  I certainly agree that this would be ideal, but I also know that ignoring all these things would likely make someone feel like an outsider.  To have compassion for ourselves and others, we do not need to avoid some of the crazier expectations, we just need to acknowledge that they are crazy to give ourselves the self-compassion we need, and do what is necessary to meet their requirements without undermining our self-worth or self-kindness.   

Self-Compassion Steps For Managing The Question Of Where You Will Be In 5 Years

In this way, you might acknowledge to yourself with your inside voice that you are not your goals, your hopes, your dreams, or even your failures.  You are already whole and deserving of love and acceptance.  To remain connected to others and as a form of compassion for what we all must endure (i.e., questions that do more harm than good), we will offer up an answer to this question without tying its contents to a necessary future reality or our self-worth. 

You may even start with a self-compassionate given what I know now (which gives yourself explicit permission to change your goals based on what you need to live a meaningful life later).  Include goals that honor your deepest values, especially those things that validate who you are as a person right now.  Make sure to include the things necessary to get certain jobs.  It would not be self-compassionate if you were intentionally choosing goals or attributes that were in direct conflict with that of a future employer.

When this work is done, return to a more formal self-compassion practice to heal anything that was injured in the process of answering this question.  Notice your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.  Name the strongest of these responses.  Soften around the body parts that are tense, and remind yourself that you come by this stress naturally for all the aforementioned reasons.  Inhale this stress naturally, and exhale slowly (like blowing through a straw for 6 seconds) your wish to be free of the stress, and to accept yourself just as you are.  Then, do something really kind for yourself.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 243.  In The Books.

Self-Compassion And A Helpful Visualization For What You Would Not Regret

Regret

We need self-compassion for the things we regret, might regret, and the things we might not regret.  Though it only has a measly six letters, the word regret is a scary thing for most people.  Regret means that they have lost something valuable, and if we dig even deeper, we would notice that that loss tells the person that they are unworthy of a good life or perhaps destined to lose.  Fore example, people regret not investing in companies that become successful.  They mourn the loss of a missed payday, but they also become transfixed on what that might say about their present and their future.  Will they never become financially successful?  Will they never be lucky in love?  Will they waste their life with poor decisions and indecision?

No Regret

If you read the title of this entry carefully, you might be saying, “Wait a minute.  I thought this was self-compassion for something that I would not regret?”  And, you would be right.  But, if the title were allowed to be very long it would say, “Having self-compassion for past experiences of regret, so that you have the freedom to try things that you would not regret.”  Ironically, having past regrets tends to block pretty safe situations.  We become afraid of taking ALL chances, even those that seem to guarantee that we will have no regrets.  There are many things that I am still learning, but one lesson that I have learned well is that if you do not take healthy risks, then you will never be able to live fully, and your experience of the world will be diminished as a result.

Eventually, you want to be able to take whatever risks are necessary for you to pursue the things you value the most in the world.  However, like most things, it helps to start with the things that pose the least risk, and slowly work your way towards the things that are riskier. To do so, you need some self-compassion for that which you would not regret. 

Self-Compassion Visualization For No Regrets

Imagine, if you will, that you are riding on a very comfortable train past lush grass, flowers, and horses grazing in the distance.  Notice how at ease you feel.  Your body is warm, but not hot.  Your mind is aware, but relaxed.  Someone brings you a tray of your two favorite foods and asks that you choose one.  Suddenly, you become anxious despite your knowledge that you will enjoy either plate.  Name this feeling: fear of regret.  Notice how you come by it naturally, then notice that you will be happy with either plate.  Give yourself self-compassion for that which you would not regret, and simply pick the first of these meals that appeals to you.  Partake in this meal, and notice your body and mind return to a sense of ease and fluidity.  Give yourself credit for making a decision despite your assurance that you would not regret your choice.

This visualization is a small opportunity to receive self-compassion for things that we would not regret, which allows us to live our life in a full and meaningful way.  Try to apply this to your daily life, taking small risks when you can with the goal of taking the risks (big or small) necessary for you to live an inspired and meaningful life.  The unbelievable results gained by people willing to start small, and find kind ways to challenge themselves never ceases to amaze me.  May you always be amazed by such efforts too!

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 242.  In The Books.

Easy Self-Compassion Steps To Keep You Sane, And Satisfy Your Need To Do Better

Wanting To Do Better

We need self-compassion for our urge to want to do better.  It is a rare condition in this day and age to be satisfied with what you have got.  And still, people procrastinate on important tasks only to have stark realizations after a couple of drinks or before bed that they want more.  Some even contact me directly with these questions.  My response is generally to ask them first how well they are taking care of themselves, as this is a necessary precursor to doing more of anything. Almost without exception, people tell me that they are doing a pretty poor job.

Self-Compassion Is The First Step

Self-Compassion is clearly the first step, but you have to be willing to hear that.  If on the other hand, you are so focused on things you want right now, I am afraid that you will never get there.  Really, you’re only choice outside of self-compassion is to sacrifice everything that you have now to get the things you want.  And, if we are being perfectly frank, while you may attain these things, you will also crash, and when you do, you will crash hard.

Can I Make Room For Self-Compassion?

The first question you need to ask yourself if you want to do better is can I make room for self-compassion?  If the answer is no, then it will be your job to come back to this question every day.  People who have hit rock bottom will probably not need to do this for too long because the body’s need to survive will give them a sense or urgency to try something new.  However, if you are still getting by, it is natural to be weary of trying something new.  You may fear disappointment, or sacrifice, or failure.  Be kind to yourself, when these concerns come up.  Self-Compassion is something new.  You are right to be skeptical.  You should take the time you need getting to know self-compassion, and decide for yourself how and when you want to include it in your life.

Self-Compassion Steps To Keep You Sane, And Satisfy Your Need To Do Better

If you are already ready, this is what you need to do.  Get out a pen, and write down (on a notecard) 1 thing in your life that you wish you could do better, 1 thing that you could do without, and 1 way you could be kind to yourself every day.  Then, notice the feelings that presents themselves.  Notice the thoughts that come up, and how your body feels.  Names these feelings, and breathe them in.  Slowly breathe out the wish to be free of these fears and discomforts.  Allow them to be how they are, and let them pass gently out of your experience.  Do something really kind for yourself (e.g., an affirming word: despite the challenges we face, we are here and trying; let out a deep sigh and feel your body lay heavy and relaxed for a moment; give yourself a self-hug). 

Now look at your list of three things.  Plan 2 minutes to do something for each the next day.  Look at the list when you wake up, and then in the evening before or just after dinner.  Acknowledge your successes, and where you might be able to be more effectual, then remind yourself that you, your effort, and your experience are more than enough despite your desire to do more. 

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 241.  In The Books.