#1000Speak June – A Home Remedy for the World

I’ve been thinking so much about the various news stories splayed across the headlines lately.

It seems no matter where you are across the globe, there is a story about something negative. Gorillas, alligators, mass shootings, politics, health care, animal cruelty, unemployment, gun control… I could go on, but I won’t. You know what the headlines and the horrors are in the world. You know that behind every headline is so much more of the story than we will ever know from reading the news. Maybe those stories are somehow better than what is presented; maybe they are worse. But at the end of the day, no matter the story, the overarching problem I see is that the world is sick.

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I have a vague memory of a cartoon drawing of the earth with a cold – or something – and that’s what comes to mind lately. Our world is sick and it needs some kind of remedy. But what? I see quotes and memes go by on my computer screen all the time suggesting what might help: The world needs love. The world needs faith. The world needs compassion.

It’s all true.

But how do we begin to heal a world that on some days seems so far gone?

As I prepared to write this post over the last few weeks, this question goaded me and made me forget every idea I thought I had to share here. I couldn’t help coming back to this nagging question of what must we DO in order to help our world, help one another?

We need to get back to basics. We need to start with the closest, simplest task and that is to heal our Selves.

My #1000Speak posts tend to focus on self-compassion and I suppose my words here will be no different. If we want to see change on a global level, we have to start on a personal level. As I thought more and more about this, I suddenly remembered some words I encounter very often at a place I visit regularly, but rarely take time to see. The words I’ll share with you here are from Robert Rodale and his wife, Ardath Harter Rodale, two people who dedicated their lives to improving not only their own lives, but the lives of others in various ways. Consider how their words might be applied on a very intimate, individual, and personal level, but also consider how they might be applied on a much larger scale.

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“Health is the ability to find superior powers of body and mind and to use them for full, fruitful, and enjoyable living.”

“Every living thing has an inner urge to get better. To renew. To use the power of life to heal from within.”

~Robert Rodale

 

“May your eyes be filled with the light of sunshine to invigorate every part of your body, mind, and spirit.”

“May health and love flow through your veins to bring you peace and harmony.”

~Ardath Harter Rodale

 

I know, I know. Given the magnitude and frequency of negativity in the headlines lately, how can we think that such simple and wholesome ideas would make a difference?  How is it possible to believe there is such light and hope and power in the world when there is so much evidence to the contrary? Maybe if we can take even just a little bit of that positive thinking, that conviction that all living things have the potential for good, for change, and for health, we might see the world – and the people in it – in a different light. Maybe we can be gentler with ourselves, kinder and more compassionate to one another, more understanding and accepting of ourselves and of one another.

What we need is a good old fashioned home remedy like Grandma’s chicken soup or hot tea with lemon. There may not be much proof of whether or not it will work, but it can’t hurt to hope and it can’t hurt to try. Try compassion. Try kindness. Try love. See if it helps. See if it makes you feel better. It certainly can’t make things any worse.

 

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This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better, more compassionate world.

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.

This month’s link up is open and ready for your posts and will remain open until June 28th.  To join in the Link-up and read more posts, click the blue button below and follow the instructions.

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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…Take Two

Napa Wedding Trip Part 220

A dear friend asked me to write about self compassion for the #1000speak movement. Sweet of her to ask so I thought sure, I can do that. Then I started typing the most boring, mundane clinical description of my version of self compassion…..truly it sucked. Then I remembered…..I’m not a clinician so how about I just get real with this topic?

Self compassion for me, is the act of being kind to myself and treating me like the awesome friend that I can be to others. It sounds all flowery, with hand holding, perhaps singing Kumbaya or at least a trip to the mall, but not always. Sometimes, just like with your good friends, someone needs a swift kick in the ass. A heavy dose of truth serum, removal of the blinders if you will. Yes that is also compassion in the long run. And guess what sometimes you need to do that for yourself.

I grew up in a crazy household. Drunk mother, absent dad, I bore witness to some serious insanity and I mean that in the clinical sense. As a young girl I learned the ways of self preservation. It often meant hiding in the shadows and people pleasing to an extreme. I learned to read people and react in ways that they would favor. These were my defense mechanisms and they served me well, until they didn’t anymore.

When I was 15 my mother tossed me into rehab. It wasn’t completely unfounded. I had decided to start drinking and experimenting with drugs just about the time when she first tried to get sober when I was 13. Shitty timing on my part….if I started a year or two earlier at say 11, she would have been too drunk to notice any change. Teenage rebellion and sober mom did not get along well and after several warnings I found myself in rehab.

I had no intention of getting sober, none. I thought I would just do my time, gain some street cred and go on my merry little way. I was wrong. A few days into my stay I had what is known as a spiritual awakening…..please don’t leave I promise it isn’t overly religious. Anyway, my awakening was a moment of awareness. I know it sounds very new age….it was really just a few moments of clarity when I realized the crazy shit storm of a life path I was on and I made a conscious effort to change course. I had a moment of realization and I made a decision to stay sober. That was in 1983 and I’m still sober today. Huge act of self compassion right there.

My first year of sobriety was insane. My mother got remarried when I left rehab and her husband got violent. End result, I was homeless. So there I was 15, newly sober, scrambling to find a place to live. I wound up in nearly a dozen places in the course of my first year sober. Some were good, some were bad, one was horrendous. At this point my self preservation skills were in effect. When I finally got to a safe place I needed to add some tools to my toolbox.

I was exposed to the 12 steps of AA and received a lot of counseling that first year of sobriety. I learned a lot that first year and more than 30 years have passed and I try to remain teachable. My tools for self compassion have changed as I have gone from a troubled teenager to a responsible adult – mother, wife, community member, business owner, et cetera. The transition has not always been smooth.

Here are some of the things that I do to show compassion for myself:

Self-care

This is not self indulgent. That’s right all the stuff you’ve heard forever – eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, stay out of harm’s way. These are all valid and necessary in my life. I can feel a shift when I haven’t eaten, slept well and/or haven’t exercised. Self care is self compassion.

Self reflection

I have to be honest with myself about the things I like and don’t like about me. This has often required coaching from a trusted friend. Was I an ass in that situation? Should I apologize? What can I do differently? Or as I heard once, decades ago and probably in an AA room. Ask yourself three questions if you are unsure of how to proceed in a situation: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? There have been plenty of times when I kept my mouth shut because I couldn’t give a yes to all three. And, honestly I apologize a lot because I am wrong a lot. Being able to look at myself and make changes (or at least try) helps me to make eye contact with myself. This is also, self compassion.

Self talk

Sometimes the thoughts I play in my head are inaccurate and they are almost always worse than reality. This can range anywhere from self loathing which manifests itself in really shitty negative mental name calling to full blown scenarios that do not exist. There are thoughts I have to routinely push away – I’m fat, ugly, old, stupid, whatever the insecurity of the day is….I need to fight it with something positive. This is also an internal dialogue – you’re healthy, you worked out, some people don’t even make it to 47, you are a solidly decent human being, get a grip woman. Facts aren’t feelings, focus on the facts. I have been known to make lists of pros/cons for a variety of situations – work, love, wall color, anything. So basically I have to talk myself off the ledge, less than I used to but more than I want to. Being aware of the negative thoughts in my head and fighting them with purposeful kindness and awareness is self compassion.

Self love (passion)

Not talking about solo romance here (not that there’s anything wrong with that). More like self actualization. What brings you joy? Do you have a calling or an urge to do something? Was a seed planted years ago and you just haven’t watered it and given it sun? I have made the things that make me feel joy a priority. Now I admit this isn’t always easy to schedule in. If you have financial/physical/other obstacles you might feel too tired to try a yoga class or maybe you can’t afford to go to a writer’s conference. That’s legit and I get that. Find a way to squeeze in your passion even if it is only in 10 minute increments. Like to write – keep a journal, blog or use social media to put yourself out there. Like to dance, check out the YMCA they might have some classes you can take on the cheap. My calling is hospice work. I felt the first pull in 1997 when my aunt was dying of cancer. It took me 11 years to have a schedule that allowed me to pursue becoming a hospice volunteer, but I did it.

Finding and fulfilling your passion is part of self compassion.

I hope this doesn’t come off preachy because honestly, I am not a fan of preachy. I just feel so strongly about people taking charge and being the best, happiest version of themselves. These are just my experiences with life and my version of self compassion. There isn’t a universal formula for success here. Just know that if you are struggling to be kind to yourself, others have been there. Please be good to you, you’re worth the effort.

This post was written by Bryce Warden – Bryce isn’t her real name, but due to her shady, sordid past and a husband who adores privacy she started this little blog thing as her personal diary/midlife crisis. She has been through some sh*t people and shares her raw and honest stories on Was That My Out Loud Voice? Bryce has been a SAHM with two kids for 10+ years. In her prior life, she was climbing the corporate ladder in the healthcare technology sector, super exciting field (not really). She also runs a small business dedicated to caring for both people and pets and is a hospice volunteer. Bryce has lots of stories to tell; some are funny  and others will break your heart. So, grab your beverage of choice and put a lid on it –  it could be a bumpy ride.