When the going gets tough…Take a Self-Compassion Break

When the going gets tough…Take a Self-Compassion Break

We all have moments where we feel we don’t measure up. A friend described a scenario to me that was so relatable. She was describing a low point in her life on a beautiful spring day as she was walking in Central Park. She was looking around and saw people pushing carriages, holding hands, playing Frisbee, and laughing. She groaned. She believed that these seemingly happy people must have received a manual that she somehow missed on how to be happy. She had a veil of darkness that prevented her from plugging into the Well-Being that is there for the taking, the Universal Flow of Life. This was one of her darkest moments but also one of her brightest moments, as it was the moment that she realized she needed help.

All of us have moments that are dark. AND we all need each other. It is in connection that the light can enter our darkness. Being connected to our own inner self is vital for our Well-Being. When I am struggling with any negative emotion, I connect to myself by taking a self-compassion break. I learned about self-compassion from Dr. Kristin Neff. To learn more about the research behind practicing self-compassion: http://self-compassion.org.

Practicing self-compassion is similar to treating yourself like you would your best friend. I use it in my parenting a lot. Parenting is not for wimps. It can be really tough especially when adolescence hits. When I am feeling frustrated, angry, disappointed, or any negative emotion, this is what taking a “Self-Compassion Break” looks like for me.

  • I take a deep breath.
  • I acknowledge that whatever it is I am going through is tough. I say to myself “This is difficult.” Once I acknowledge the difficulty and accept that what is happening in the moment is what it is, I tap into a immediate sense of relief. I can feel my shoulders drop. I relax a little.
  • I then say to myself,  “I am not alone. There are millions of other parents who go through these difficulties.” This is a real switch from former beliefs that other people have the answers and I am the only person in the dark. This forms CONNECTION. This lifts the veil of isolation.
  • I then place a hand on a part of my body in a gesture of love to myself. If no one is around I may place my hand over my heart. If I am doing this out in the open, I may place my hand on my arm and stroke my arm in a reassuring way. I am sending love and kindness to myself. I say “May I be kind to myself as I go through this difficulty. May I send myself love.” I tell myself that I am doing the best I can. Then, when I am able I say a couple of affirming statements, such as “I am brave. I am facing my challenges wholeheartedly.”
  • I usually end my self-compassion break with a mantra that I find helpful such as “This too shall pass.” “The Universe is always conspiring for my benefit.”

By the time, this process ends, often just a couple of minutes, I have shifted. The great news is that I can do it at any time and it helps me become connected even when I am alone. It is also a great process to model for your children. Children start to become critical of themselves in grade school. We tend to think it is motivational to be critical of ourselves, but research has shown this is not true. Self-criticism can induce anxiety and depression. Cultivating self-compassion is protective against anxiety and depression.

Spring is here! I wish you renewed hope, peace and joy. The next time your inner joy is muted by grief, anger, frustration or sadness, try a self-compassion break. Send me your comments about your experiences. Would love to hear from you!

To join the movement of Mindful and Compassionate Communities and to learn more about our programs, click on these links:

https://westchestercenterformindfulnessandwellbeing.com

https://www.facebook.com/mindfulcompassionatecommunities/

Parenting

Parenting has been called a rewarding job, a thankless job, the worst-paid job, and the most challenging job on the planet. This job of parenting has no special training, yet we are so motivated to succeed. Sometimes, we feel at a loss. Instead of a boss giving a review of our job performance, we parents judge our own performance and we do so quite harshly. Our children can also give us some bad reviews. Spouses can point the finger at us as well. We compare ourselves to others, others who appear to have it all under control. THEIR kid is captain of the team, on the honor roll and never disobeys. Sound familiar?

I have been a mom for almost 33 years to 4 amazing human beings. I say that with the utmost humility. I do not take credit for their amazingness. I took my hits as a parent. I have had rough patches for sure. I made huge mistakes. I beat myself up for those mistakes. That has all brought me on a path to finding a better way, a way of acceptance, compassion and truth.The truth is that our children are human beings that we have the honor to share a life with for a short period of time and much of what happens during that period of time is not within our control. I have become passionate about helping other parents with the challenges of parenting. It can be isolating, scary, and daunting. But once you find acceptance and self-compassion, and let go of comparisons, the joy that accompanies parenting will return. This is a form of awakening, becoming a more conscious parent. It takes new habits, new skills and practice. But it can be done. If you want to learn a different way of parenting, parenting from the inside out in a demanding world, please check out the workshops I am offering:Parenting from the Inside Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Square of Life

Today, this post is in honor of Debbie, whose life was short but whose journey made a tremendous impact on those around her…..

My first introduction to the Law of Attraction was during my Roman Catholic upbringing. Jesus was known to say things like “Ask and it is given” and “reap what you sow.” Jesus was certainly not the first Teacher to come along and give Law of Attraction lessons but in my life He was the most noteworthy. He did not call it the Law of Attraction but that was what He was talking about. About 5 centuries before Jesus, Buddha stated “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” He did not call it the Law of Attraction but that was what He was talking about. Fast forward to the late 19th century when Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Even more recently, we know that Mother Teresa was a practitioner of the Law of Attraction; when she was asked to participate in an anti-war rally, she flatly refused, saying, “I will never attend an anti-war rally — call me when you have a pro peace rally and I’ll be there.” She understood the power of focus and wanted to focus on peace rather than war. You get the point? These well known Spiritual leaders, whom we have called Masters, Saints, even God, spoke of this Universal Truth. And they spoke of it so we could apply it to our life; not so that we could fix the world, but that we could live joyful, creative lives and not wait for our death to find a heaven. Life is meant to be joyful. Life is meant to be fun. Life is our playground for creating. When we do not realize this we live in hell. The kingdom of God is within…within our own mind.

 About 10 years ago I read a little book called The Game of Life and How to Play It by Frances Scovel Shinn, published in 1925. It was a book about Law of Attraction but not labeled as such. Ms. Shinn said the square of life consists of Health, Wealth, Love and Perfect Self Expression. And I think that still makes sense almost a century later. All that we want in life can fit pretty well into these 4 categories. A fulfilling career may satisfy our need for perfect self-expression. Being the ideal body weight or being free of disease may be our definition of Health. For one person having an extra $1000 in the bank after our bills are paid is their idea of Wealth.

 We may think that the “right relationship” will fill our need for Love. So, we look for Mr. or Mrs. Right. And if we are having no luck in that department we may feel unworthy or unlucky. If we do find Mr. or Mrs. Right we are happy in the beginning of the relationship but what happens if we are not deliberate creators, very often, that “right” person starts looking “wrong” to us. The real deal is that person is just a mirror to your own vibrational reality. Many people protest when they hear this saying: “No way, if he would just not do those things that he knows annoys the heck out of me, everything would be fine!” Well the response to that is “you are looking for Love in all the wrong places.” And then people are turned off to this whole Law of Attraction thing because they would much prefer to think that if the other person would just work on themselves, they would be happy. But the reality is if we are not happy, the work is with us and us alone. If we are criticizing another, there is something within us that is not right. So I want to talk about relationships today and the only relationship worth talking about is the relationship to your own Inner Being.

No matter what the relationship issue is or who the relationship is with, if there is struggle it is only a reflection of your relationship with your Inner Being. So, today when you look in the mirror tell yourself “I love you” and “today I will take care of you.” How hard that one task is will tell you how misaligned you are with your Inner Being. Keep doing it until it is natural to do it.

Next, make your number one priority of the day to feel good. That might sound selfish but believe me, it is the best thing you could do for the people you love. Isn’t it a lot nicer to be around an uplifted person than someone who is just plain miserable? If you work on your own vibration (paying attention to your emotions and then your thoughts) and raise your vibration to a higher place, you will see all relationships improve. Either the people in your life will raise their vibration as an effect of your change or they will somehow vanish from your life. The square of life will take shape providing the Health, Wealth, Love and Perfect Self-Expression we so desire. And the only reason we desire the things we want is because we believe in the having of them we will feel better. I am encouraging you to feel better first and the rest will materialize!