Self-Compassion Heals

“Compassion isn’t some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we’re trying to live up to. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at.”

Pema Chodron

Compassion is what 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion is all about. As Pema Chodron says in the quote above, this does start and end with having compassion for the parts of ourselves we consider flaws. Self-compassion is not something you do once but is a lifelong process. Each time you see some aspect of yourself that you don’t like, try forgiving it instead.

Does this seem hard? Then just do the best you can.

As Christopher Germer says:

“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”

 

It’s no secret that most people find it harder to be compassionate with themselves than they do with other people. So just one moment of kindness towards ourselves can make a difference in a day that otherwise would be filled with self-punishment.

However, as Louise Hay says:

“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

That’s been my experience. The aspects of my life where I criticised myself most were where I was least successful. The criticism didn’t work and made me feel bad.

In case you worry that self-compassion will make you self-indulgent, Christopher Dines explains why this it won’t:

“To be self-compassionate is not to be self-indulgent or self-centred. A major component of self-compassion is to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with love, care, dignity and make your wellbeing a priority. With self-compassion, we still hold ourselves accountable professionally and personally, but there are no toxic emotions inflicted upon and towards ourselves.”

Kristin Neff also says,

“With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what’s healthy for you rather than what’s harmful to you.”

Many people worry that if they are compassionate towards themselves, that would be letting themselves off the hook. They imagine it means they would avoid responsibility for their actions and leave someone else to soak up the mess. But this could not be further from the truth. My experience is that the more compassionate I am with myself, the easier it is to say, “I messed up. I did it.” When we expect the world to cave in around us if we admit to a mistake, we avoid doing so. When we know that we are okay, even if what we did was foolish, unkind, careless or just plain ignorant, we aren’t afraid to admit our mistakes.

Here’s Neff again:

“Admitting that we’re fallible human beings doing the best we can and being compassionate to ourselves in the face of our misdeeds, actually allows us to take more responsibility for our actions.”

There’s another reason why practising self-compassion isn’t something to fear. Somehow, many of us have the idea that if we are compassionate towards ourselves, it means we will see ourselves as more deserving than others, or better than them. However, the opposite is true. Almost without fail, what we feel doubtful about or dislike in ourselves, we also dislike in others.

As Byron Katie says when describing how she used to live before she began questioning her stressful thoughts:

“‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ I always have. I hated me, I hated you.”

Osho agrees:

“If you don’t love yourself you will never be able to love anybody else.  Psychologically it is impossible. If you cannot be kind to yourself, how can you be kind to others?”

As we become more self-compassionate, we feel better about ourselves and have less need to look for flaws in others to make ourselves feel better.

Here’s Brene Brown explaining how that works:

“If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived deficiency.”
I’m going to give the last word to Osho:

“Just being with somebody who accepts you totally is therapeutic. You will be healed.”

Okay, not quite the last word. Because, how about if you make that somebody yourself? You will be healed and you will be more able to help others heal!

Thank you for loving you!

This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a focus on Self Compassion.

Here’s how to get involved:

Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook

Visit the 1000Speak blog

Follow @1000Speak on Twitter

Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.
To join in the Link-up or read more posts, click the blue button below and follow the instructions.

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Compassion and Vulnerability #1000Speak Link-up Here!

Welcome 1000+ Voices! Our theme for this month is Compassion and Vulnerability.

We’ve chosen this theme because April is awareness month for a number of issues related to vulnerability or vulnerable people – some just in the USA and India, and some worldwide.

The second of April was World Autism Awareness Day, and the week from the 2nd till the 8th is Autism Awareness Week. In the United States, all of April is Autism Awareness month. 

April also has international awareness days for assistance in mine action, and of remembrance of victims of chemical warfare and of the Rwandan genocide, among others.

In the USA, April is sexual assault awareness and prevention month and child abuse awareness and prevention month – with the 20th being day of the National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.

It is also National Alcohol Awareness month in the USA and in India, the aim of which is to: “increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.” 

 World Health Day is the 7th of April.

Other issues that have awareness raising events this month are youth sports safety month, infertility awareness, youth violence prevention.

So there’s a wealth of topics from you to choose from for the #1000Speak link-up on April 20th! We’d love to read your posts on any of these, and we’d love personal experience posts as well as opinion pieces, research articles or anything else you would like to write.

Just in case you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few suggestions.

  • What action can we take to show compassion for vulnerable people?
  • If you have personal experience of any of these topics, how has compassion from others helped you?
  • Perhaps lack of compassion affected you- if so tell us what you need, or maybe what you needed years ago.
  • Many of these topics – for instance: abuse, assault, violence, alcoholism – tend to pass down through generations. What is needed to change this? If you are a parent who suffered from these as a child, have you managed to break the cycle and how did you do that? What part does compassion play? What about self-compassion?
  • Does awareness of an issue lead to compassion?

Looking forward to reading your posts on the 20th! #1000Speak April 2016 Writing about Compassion and Vulnerability

The link-up is now open. To add your post, click the blue button below and follow the instructions.
Thank you for joining us!

Compassion and Happiness

Our next link-up is on the 20th of March. Just one week to go! Our theme, as it is every quarter, is simply Compassion.

However, 20th March is also International Day of Happiness.

Do compassion and happiness go together? You bet! So, if  you would like to write a post about the connection between compassion and happiness, we’d love to read it.

If you aren’t sure about what to write for this, we’ve got a few things that might help.

First off, in the video below, Pharrell Williams talks about happiness for last year’s International Day of Happiness, and as he points out, protecting our planet’s environment is necessary to ensure the happiness of future generation. I’d say that when we take action to protect our planet for our children, that also makes us happy.

Some people have the idea that compassion means feeling another’s pain, which wouldn’t necessarily make us happy! What do you think? Is compassion painful? Or does it lighten our load? Is it even possible to have happiness without compassion?

Here’s a quote that I shared in our Facebook group this week, and that sparked ideas for a few of us. Maybe it will do the same for you. It’s by Guillaume Apollinaire:

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness to just be happy.

And here’s another one to think about, this time by Epictetus.

People are disturbed not by things, but by the view they take of them.

What about self-compassion? Is it possible to have happiness without self-compassion?

Do you agree with quote by  Cheri Huber:

If we can simply see, with compassion, all that arises within us, we dramatically increase our chances of moving away from suffering.

Let’s end this post by hearing from Pharrell Williams again, this time singing “Happy.” The video is amazing, because the video is of people dancing in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, showing us that happiness doesn’t depend on circumstances. 

This month, as well as using the #1000Speak hashtag, you could also use some to connect with International Day of Happiness. #happyplanet and #happiness are two suggestions.

Looking forward to reading your post on the 20th!

 

 

Prompts for Celebrating a Year of Compassion #1000Speak

On February 20th 2015, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion held its first link up. Our intention for that day was to get a thousand bloggers together and spread compassion around the world.

 

As many of you will know, that plan for a single day evolved, and many of us have been writing about compassion every month since.

 

Now, as the anniversary of our first link-up approaches we’d love to see posts from you on how the year has been! This prompts post is a bit more vague than the usual ones, because we really want to you to tell your own story!

 

We’d love to hear what effect being involved has had on writers. Do you see things differently at all? Do you notice any changes around you ~ either in your circle of friends and family or in wider world? How do you feel about what you see?

 

We’d like this to be a celebration of compassion, and of the past year of working together to create a compassionate world. That celebration can focus on what you see as going right, but it also allows for feelings of sadness at what you wish were different. Feel free to include it all!

 

And of course, our work is far from over ~ where do you think there’s still more to do to create a compassionate world?

 

Please join us on the 20th with a post and feel free to grab this image to use in your posts to CELEBRATE A YEAR OF COMPASSION!

If you have any questions, let us know in a comment and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Compassion-1-year

If you have missed all the excitement and don’t yet know where to find us, you can join over 1600 members of our Facebook group here.

We Are One!

Although 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion had its first link-up on the 20th of February 2015, the birth of our initiative was one year ago today!

January 12th was the day it all began, was the day around 200 or so people responded to the invitation to join us in writing about compassion on an unspecified day. In A Year of Compassion, for our link-up in December, I wrote about some highlights of 2015, so check out that post to see some of what we’ve done.

And remember our link-up this month is about FORGIVENESS. If you aren’t sure what to write about, check out our prompts post.

So we are one  year old, but we are also one in another way. We are over 1600 members, but all with one vision – to create a world filled with compassion, to feel compassion for others and for ourselves. Some of us still struggle with this much of the time, and most of us struggle with it some of the time. When we remember that this is just part of being human, we can forgive ourselves, and return to the compassionate core within our hearts.

We are one, not just with group members, but with the world. We are one humanity, made up of many apparently different races, that turn out not to be so very different under the surface. Most people know we share around 98% of genes with chimpanzees, but did you know we also have 85% genes in common with zebra fish and 36% fruit flies? We even have genes in common with bacteria and with rice!

So the next time you eat some rice or see a fish swimming in a tank, or pat your pet – first pause for a moment, and realise you are meeting yourself. And if that’s true for animals and grains of rice, how much truer is it of other humans – with whom you share 99.9% of the same DNA. Yes, that’s correct. The person you detest along the street or at work, the moronic driver you yelled at yesterday, the idiot who cut in line… they are all 99.9% YOU.

Treat yourself kindly, next time you see you – whether that’s in another person or in the mirror.

We are one!

Let’s make 2016 even more compassionate and connected that 2015.

Compassion-1-year

 

 

 

A Year of Compassion #1000Speak

It’s hard to believe it’s almost a year since we started 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. Hard to believe it’s been that long, and hard to believe it’s been such a short time. Time has flown and we’ve done so much! It was in early January 2015 when Lizzi and I had the conversation that led to me putting out an invitation to bloggers to join in writing about compassion on one day. I pressed the button to start the Facebook Group, and within minutes is was clear we had started something people craved. Many of us wrote blog posts inviting others to join us, and the group kept growing at an amazing rate, passing 1000 long before the date of our first event on February 20th.

As I said in the invitation post I wrote, what makes this so different to anything that’s come before is that we are ordinary bloggers from all over the world, from Australia, Singapore, India, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US (including Hawaii!) We’re not sact of kindness.aesopages, we’re just like you. Some of us have large followings, some of us have tiny, but together we can all make a difference.

So have we made a difference? I think so. We started partly in response to attacks in Paris and to less publicised attacks in Nigeria and Pakistan. Just last month there were more attacks on Paris, Syrians are still fleeing violence a country torn apart by civil war, Boko Haram is still spreading terror in Northern Nigeria and mass shootings occur almost daily in the United States.

So we haven’t ended violence, we definitely don’t have world peace. If that had been our aim, the initiative would be classed as a massive failure. But it wasn’t our aim. My purpose, in creating the invitation and the group, was to reach out to the many people I saw writing posts along the lines of Lizzi’s  We All Need The Village, posts in which I sensed of a feeling of isolation in the writer, a feeling that not enough people cared, a longing for connection. I thought that if we could get these lonely voices together it would build a sense of community, allow us to see that many people do care. In that aim, I think we have succeeded.

Our group is a place where people can, and do, come for support in hard times. It is a place where people can share posts and videos that have inspired them – messages of hope and kindness from the world around us. It is a place where bloggers can share their own responses to kindness or cruelty, and know the posts will be met with compassion. We’ve also had some amazing guest posts on this blog, and have guest posted elsewhere, and did an interview on Blog Talk Radio.

Even those of our members who don’t write much share other people’s posts, both by other group members or just things they’ve seen on the internet. This last category is as important as the rest of what we do – it reminds us that there is kindness all around the world, people do care. Compassion is alive and helping people every day. We need this to nourish us and to feel inspired to keep doing what we do.

We don’t change the world by getting others to change so much as by being the most that we ourselves can be, by connecting with ourselves and through that being able to connect more authentically with other people. For me, it feels so uplifting to read a post in which someone says being part of 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion has helped them in some way or helped them think about something differently. We can’t stop wars by writing blog posts, we can’t even save all the homeless  or the sick, but we can make and do make a difference. We can be the change we want to see.

We’d love to hear from you about what 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion means to you. Our link-up is open from now till Christmas day is over, so do join us! Let us know what this year has meant to you, or just write about any aspect of COMPASSION!

To join the link-up or read the posts, just click on the blue button below.

constant kindness

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

The Wisdom of Gratitude – #1000Speak

12246830_760693657374296_8775570206419549353_nFor our link-up this month, in honor of the Thanksgiving tradition our theme is GRATITUDE.

Here’s what the Oxford Dictionaries online have to say about gratitude:

noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

 

And according to the Thesaurus, some synonyms are:

  • grace
  • gratefulness
  • honor
  • praise
  • thankfulness
  • responsiveness
  • appreciativeness
  • acknowledgement
  • recognition

I agree with all of those. The Thesaurus also includes a few terms as synonyms that I’m not so sure about.

  • indebtedness
  • obligation

And oddly enough, when a quick check of its listing of synonyms for obligation reveals gratitude isn’t among them!

So, like many emotions, it seems there can be differing opinions of what exactly it is. Today we share some quotes about gratitude from famous people in differing walks of life. I particularly like this one by John F. Kennedy.

JFK Gratitude

 

Just as he suggests, let’s not just utter words, but live by them!

Since 1000 Voices is all about compassion, I love this quote about gratitude from the Dalai Lama:

Now there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful toward your enemy for providing you that precious opportunity. Because if you are ever to be successful in your practice of patience and tolerance, which are critical factors in counteracting negative emotions, it is due to your own efforts and also the opportunity provided by your enemy.

This one is from writer Alice Walker:

‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche:

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

I particularly love second part of what novelist G. K. Chesterton says here:

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

From author, poet and spiritual coach, Stephen Levine:

Gratitude is the state of mind of thankfulness. As it is cultivated, we experience an increase in our “sympathetic joy,” our happiness at another’s happiness. Just as in the cultivation of compassion, we may feel the pain of others, so we may begin to feel their joy as well. And it doesn’t stop there.

I agree with Levine – what he describes has been my experience. The more I cultivate thankfulness, the easier it is to enjoy other people’s gratitude too. It  seems hard to believe now, but looking back I can remember feeling annoyed at witnessing others’ gratitude. So there’s no doubt that gratitude is good for us, not just for the people we feel it towards!

A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books were often a source of wisdom for me when my children were little.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.

I’m going to end with a quote from a character in my teenage daughter’s favorite detective show, Castle. My daughter has this quote pinned to her wardrobe door and it’s a great remind that we don’t need to hunt for wisdom, it’s right there in everything we do.

Even on the worst days, there is the possibility for joy.

This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a particular focus on GRATITUDE, as well as the broader topic of compassion.

Write a post relevant to this month’s focus – GRATITUDE – and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below. We also welcome posts on any aspect of COMPASSION, and this month we particularly welcome posts on your vision for the world or feelings of compassion after on the attacks in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere. 

Here’s how to get involved:

Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook

Follow @1000Speak on Twitter

Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.