Archives for Self-Compassion - Page 2
I don't know who wrote the following words of wisdom about stages of recovery. It's been around as long as I can remember and this is just one version. Stages of Recovery Stage 1: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out. Stage 2: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in this same place. But it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out. Stage 3: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I fall in...it's a habit...but my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately. Stage 4: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it. Stage 5: I walk down a different street.
"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go and not be questioned." Maya Angelou Home, in my mind, is about a feeling. That feeling can come from people, a place or yourself. It is serenity, laughter and authentic acceptance. Authentic acceptance from others means they know my faults and love me anyway. They don't point out my ongoing shortcomings to improve me or change me, they see those quirks as simply part of me. It's not the politically proper acceptance of keepng their thoughts to themselves. It goes beyond that. Their acceptance comes from deep within, the acceptance of those who truly love without qualifiers or caveats. Many of those who make up my "home" would make different choices than I have, including the paths I would take all over again. Yet they accept my choices, love me anyway, and sometimes urge me to reconsider my current choices. They give information, saying what they believe is true without judging or threatening. When I trudge on with decisions they don't understand, they become my cheerleaders. They may not approve and they still love and accept. People who are your home don't leave. When you have these people in your life, you know you're not alone, whether they are physically present or not.
The first key of mindful communication, according to Chapman (2012), is having a mindful presence. This means having an open mind, awake body and a tender heart. When you have a mindful presence, you give up expectations, stories about yourself and others, and acting on emotions. You are fully in the present moment; your communication isn't focused on the "me" and what the "me" needs, but the we. Mindful listening is the second key to mindful communication. Mindful listening is about encouraging the other person. This means looking through the masks and pretense and seeing the value in the person and the strengths he or she possesses. It's looking past the human frailties and flaws that we all have to see the authentic person and the truth in what that person is attempting to say.
How many people have been in relationships that they knew weren't right for them, but stayed anyway? My guess is more people have done that than haven't. Such relationships may be boring, more work than they are rewarding, emotionally painful, lacking intimacy or sharing and feel forced. Instead of adding to the joy and happiness in your life, a bad relationship may find you feeling sad, anxious and thinking hopeless thoughts. These relationships may even be neglectful or abusive. A big part of mindless relationships is you have to give up part, or most, of who you are to stay in the relationship. That's a very high price to pay. Most people know that not being true to themselves and what they want and need is a really bad idea. To stay in such a relationship they often have to numb themselves, be un-mindful of their needs and wants and un-mindful of the pain they feel. It's like going into a cocoon; hiding and believing that by doing so they are safe in some way from what they fear. Maybe those in bad relationships fear no one will ever love them so they settle for what isn't safe and intimate to avoid living without a partner. Maybe they are afraid of being alone so they settle for being with "friends" who aren't supportive or caring.
Emotionally sensitive people sometimes have difficulty trusting themselves. There's often good reason for this; when someone has intense emotions, she can't be sure how she will react in different situations with various people. Most emotionally sensitive people have experiences in which they've reacted emotionally in ways they wish they hadn't. Maybe they feel embarrassed or ashamed of the way they've behaved in the past and fear repeating that experience. Often they can't be sure of how they'll react if they become jealous or angry or envious of someone else or if they feel intimidated or judged. Even when there isn't an emotional threat of any kind, just not knowing how you might react around other people can be scary. Sometimes being skillful and then sometimes being unskillful can be confusing.
The cost of judging is quite high, particularly for emotionally sensitive people. Think how you would live your life if you weren't afraid of being judged, either by yourself of others? Judging and fear of being judged often keeps people in a trap - an emotional jail. Instead of living your life the way you would love to, you live safely, doing what is acceptable, so you aren't labelled as crazy, stupid, worthless, a failure, lazy or some other hateful word. You may try to fit into molds that aren't right for you or that aren't even possible for human beings. Humans simply aren't perfect.
Most people have multiple ways of judging themselves, and often that involves comparing themselves to others. Maybe you have a role-model in mind, a person you think has it all together. Maybe you choose the best of several other people to compare yourself to--the role model for your professional life is different than the person you look up to in your personal life, and the person you admire for her mothering skills may not be the same person you want to look like in a swimsuit. Most people don't consider themselves good enough. We're not good enough at work, as a parent, or as a spouse. Our bodies don't look good enough at a pool party and we aren't pretty enough or successful enough at the high school reunion. We don't have enough friends and we don't have the right car. Emotionally sensitive people are more likely to judge themselves harshly. We live life as if it were a competition.
Living a values-based life is not an easy goal. You get up in the morning, you've got tasks to do. Sometimes you just do tasks without considering how you are allocating your time. Sometimes you just keep going all day until you are done, then fall into bed exhausted. Often it seems there isn't enough time to think about living your life with meaning or putting your energy into what you believe in. You may believe in family, contributing to those less fortunate, friendships or making positive difference in your community. Many times though, people don't put their values into action. They don't live their beliefs. Paying Attention to Who You Are Your values are an important part of your identity. What are your top five values? How much of your life do you spend consistent with those values?
Understanding emotions, being able to observe them in ourselves, and knowing the information they give us is an important part of living effectively. For example, fear tells us to take action or freeze to protect ourselves. When fear is based on true facts versus imagined or misinterpreted information, that message to self-protect can be lifesaving. That message is perfectly clear -- you are in danger. Sometimes, though, the message our emotions are giving us is more difficult to understand. That's true of shame. Webster defines shame as the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, and ridiculous done by oneself or another. It is a kind of injury to one’s pride or self-respect.