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