Compassion Wins

As most readers of this blog will know, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion began in January 2015 in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders, the murder of school children in Pakistan and the Boko Haram massacres in Nigeria. Sometimes it feels as if the world is becoming increasingly less compassionate and more violent, that isn’t the case. Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard University says we should look to data, not headlines, and that with the exception of the Syrian conflict, data shows we are actually becoming more peaceful.  Other researchers say the picture isn’t quite so clear and that while overall, Pinker is right, some violent areas are becoming more violent.

One thing is clear though – the world still needs compassion. Our 1000 plus Voices need to keep speaking for compassion.

When I posted in a Facebook group asking if other bloggers would like to join me for a one-day event writing about compassion, I had no idea if anyone would say yes, and never dreamed we’d still be going a year and a half later.

Of course, people did say yes, and we are still here. Not only are we still here, but we have some incredibly exciting news.

That very first blog post I wrote, 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, has won a blogging award. This is from an email I received from BlogHer at the end of June:

We’re thrilled to inform you that your piece, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion,” was nominated in the Impact category and made it through a minimum of three rounds of judging with at least two judges each round, and has been selected as a 2016 Voices of the Year Honoree!

If BlogHer was thrilled to inform me, I was equally thrilled to be informed! Dancing up and down and bouncing to tell someone thrilled.

Except, I couldn’t. Not straight away at least. The email also said that not all submitters had been informed of the results and asked Honorees to say quiet until BlogHer made the official announcement.

For those of you who don’t know what BlogHer is – it’s “a new kind of media company, created in partnership by, for and with women, and men, who are leaders across blogs and social media and are passionately committed to quality content.” BlogHer has an audience of 100 million across blogs and social media.

Each year, BlogHer has a conference somewhere in the USA, with keynote speakers, workshops and of course with presentations of the 2016 Voices of the Year Honoree awards.

So folks, this is a big deal!

The conference is in Los Angeles this year, and I’m in the UK, so I won’t be able to go, but luckily one of our admins, Roshni, is going instead! I’m so pleased that she could take my place because Roshni has been with 1000 Voices from the start, and has been such a hard working member of the admin team. She looks after the Twitter account, as well as contributing to in the Facebook group and page. Roshni also just a lovely, lovely person so I am so glad she could go to the BlogHer 2016 conference to collect the award.

Truly, truly, truly, while I may have written the posts on Facebook and my blog inviting people to join, without Roshni and the other admins, 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion would never have got going and would be going still today.

I feel this honour is for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, for all of us. Everyone, every member contributed. THANK YOU.

I’m also delighted to say that I am not the only “Voice” from our group to be a Voice of the Year Honoree. Hasty Dawn Words also won one of the awards in the Impact category for her #BeReal campaign. Darla Halyk won in the Written Work (long) category for her blog post: My Gambling Addiction Drove Me to Break the Law and Alexandra Rosas’s post Past, Present, Future: What It Feels Like to Look at Your Children won in the MOMents category (MOMents is sponsored by Merck for Mothers, hence the capitals.) The posts in this category are about the joy of bringing a new life into this world.

Congratulations to Hasty, Darla and Alexandra!

I was a BlogHer 2016 VOTY Honoree

 

This month our theme is Compassion and Courage, and I’d just like to say while it’s easy to think of courage as grand leaps and big gestures, every leap begins with a tiny action. A small child climbs up steps before she whooshes down a slide. You lift your heels and point your arms before you dive into water, you pick up a pen before you apply for your dream job. The courage comes to you with that first action and we all have courage in small ways as well as big.

Your fingers hit the keyboard before your words reach the page for your post for 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion’s link-up on Compassion and Courage. You have courage. Now keep going, let the words keep flowing and join us with your post!

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

Write a relevant post and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below.

Here’s how to get involved:

Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook

Follow this blog

Follow @1000Speak on Twitter

Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.

Advertisements

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.

The Power of Self-Compassion

In August 2012, my husband and I did ‘The Alchemy of Relatedness’ with Fanny and Colin, a couple who runs retreats in Devon, England. They call their work ‘The Movement of Being.’ On this week-long retreat, held on Dartmoor, we stayed clear of ‘normal’ distractions. In the mornings we sat outside facing the lush countryside of Devon and listened to bird song. Each day, the group met in a circle. If something came up, we had the opportunity to speak up and process our feelings.

It’s amazing how much stuff comes to surface when we are willing to slow down and embrace stillness. I loved the time inside the circle. Feeling held and relatively safe, I could allow my feelings to surface.

But time outside of the circle was a sheer torture. I know many people feel socially awkward. For me, it was verging on a phobia. Most of the time, I hid behind my husband. We huddled together, away from the rest of the group, enjoying the safety of our connection.

On a typical day we had three circles. Towards the end of the retreat, Fanny and Colin suggested that we have a ‘free’ evening. The plan was to gather around bonfire after dinner, chat and sing. Anxious, I went to have a shower. When I came out, my husband was sitting at the table with the rest of the group having his dinner. In that moment, something flipped inside of me. In total despair, I ran away. He was with them too. I was totally alone. I couldn’t bear the thought of joining the group at the table. Individually they were all lovely people. There wasn’t a single person I felt uncomfortable with. But as a group, they intimidated me: it was as if I disappeared.

I walked around the village for over an hour waiting for someone to notice my absence and come looking for me.

No one came.

Tired of crying and walking, I returned to the venue.

‘Did you go for a walk?’ My husband asked. He had no idea about my drama. His casual tone was the last straw and I fell apart.

‘Ask Colin to hold a space for you to process this,’ he suggested once I couldn’t cry anymore.

15 minutes later, I was sitting with Colin on the ground not far from the bonfire and telling him about how I got triggered.

‘Can you allow yourself to be touched by this?’ He asked softly.

The words felt like an empty sound.

‘Can you feel compassion to this part of yourself?’ He rephrased the question.

I couldn’t.

‘How do I do that?’ I asked eventually.

‘Well, if a little girl, perhaps your daughter or sister, told you that this is how they felt…’

Finally, I got it. That was the only way I could feel self-compassion. For years afterwards, I clung to the image and returned to that little girl every time I was open to feeling self-compassion.

You see, I was brought up in a culture where when a child falls down, an adult can hit the child and reprimand them more. ‘I told you not to…’ was a common phrase used in my family, if something went wrong. When I failed, I didn’t share with my loved ones. I knew I wasn’t going to get a compassionate response.

What’s worse, I internalised their reactions. So, when something wasn’t quite right, I beat myself up, adding insult to the injury.

It was only last summer that I really started to learn giving myself compassion. The power of self-compassion is astounding. On the face of it, the process I use is deceptively simple. All I need to do is to focus on my heart centre and solar plexus, and say ‘I’m so sorry [fill in the blank]. Yet within a few minutes, I feel lighter and calmer. It works without fail and has the capacity to heal the deepest wounds.

Practicing self-compassion had several added benefits for me:

  • Self-awareness: to name what I feel, I need to be willing to stay present to the discomfort.
  • Acceptance: to move through the pain, I need to face whatever is. It doesn’t mean resigning myself to the situation. Paradoxically, I can transform the pain once I acknowledge and accept what is.
  • Kindness: with self-compassion comes kindness. It’s not a fluffy type of feeling. It’s more of a softening and relaxation in the face of discomfort.

I’m half-way through a certification programme in Compassion Key with Edward Mannix. As part of this programme, I am offering free Compassion Key sessions. If you’d like to experience the power of self-directed compassion and shift a major issue in your life, give it a shot. It’s amazing!GV

If I can give myself compassion and transform my life, so can you.

 

This guest post is by Gulara Vincent. 

 

Dr Gulara Vincent is a writer, blogger, and a university law lecturer. Her book proposal was a winner of the Transformational Author Experience in the USA in 2015. She lives in Birmingham, England, with her husband and two young children. You can visit her writer’s blog at gularavincent.com  or connect with her on Facebook  and Twitter (@gulara_vincent).

Self-Compassion Prompts for May Link-up #1000Speak

I am really excited to announce May’s theme of Self-Compassion. Learning compassion for myself made such a difference to my life, and I love guiding other people to feel compassion for themselves. It gives me the warm fuzzies, makes my heart sing and my eyes mist over. So yes, I had a hand in choosing this month’s topic!

But now it’s over to you. We’d love to hear your thoughts on self-compassion. If you’ve got ideas of what you’d like to say, then get writing and we’ll see you on the 20th! If your mind is spinning right now and you’re not sure what to write about, we have a few suggestions:

What does self-compassion mean? Is it the similar or different to self-indulgence, self-esteem or self-respect? (If you aren’t sure, then you’ll be pleased to know there’s already been a ton of research on this, mostly by Kristin Neff, though Paul Gilbert and  Emma M. Seppälä, and others have also contributed much to our understanding of how powerful self-compassion can be.)

What makes it hard to be compassionate with ourselves?

Is it possible to be fully compassionate with another person if we aren’t with ourselves?

If you are a professional – therapist, coach or other helper, we’d love to hear from you about benefits you’ve observed or researched in people learning self-compassion.

If you aren’t a professional, we’d still love to hear from you. Maybe you’ve done research of your own, or learned something that helped. Tell your own story so that other people can feel encouraged to learn self-compassion.

And let’s dream too – let’s dream big! Dreaming is the first stage of becoming, after all.

What would it be like if children learned self-compassion at school?

If politicians had classes in it before they ran for office?

If business leaders, teachers, doctors and lawyers learned self-compassion as part of their training?

What would it be like if beggars were taught to treat themselves with kindness, to see that they are worthy, to value themselves? Sometimes this does happen, and if you know of such stories, we’d love to read them – or watch them if you share a video.

What would it be like if criminals were taught self-compassion? Again, this sometimes happens, so if you know a story, we’d love to read it!

As always, our link-up will be on the 20th of the month – covering all time zones. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Compassion Logo FINISHED

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.