How Creating Self-Compassion Opens the Door to Healing

Self-compassion

Whew.  Some weeks are harder than others.  After coming off of my recent MCL knee injury, I was made to rest for approximately 6 weeks.  I had to learn things all over again that I worked really hard to teach myself when my body was so wracked with pain I could barely move.

How did I create self-compassion for myself and how did it allow me to actually heal in a more complete way?

I was working not to trigger those thoughts of pain, and in those first days, it was a struggle to practice everything I teach my group to do…which ended up being a blessing in disguise.  I learned now that I have those skills in mindfulness, which I previously did NOT have in my tool box, that I can get through the pain much easier. 

In our society, we are taught that bashing ourselves is not only okay, but it gets people’s attention.  Unfortunately, research has proven that this leads to consequences in the thought processes that actually perpetuate anxiety, depression, and of course lowered self-esteem.

Wait.  Where’s the good news?   Psychologist and author Kristin Neff, has said that cultivating self-compassion really centers around three things: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness.  I had actually been practicing all three in my journal therapy and wasn’t even aware that it had been “studied” and researched.  I just knew intuitively that I had a knack for getting to the root of the problem thus helping others to heal as well.

Strategies for Creating More Self-Compassion

If you are working through emotional triggers and trauma, this part is a must do in your self-care routine.  I will kick your butt if you try that lame excuse of not having enough time.  Wake up at least 5 minutes earlier, put your sticky note on the calendar to journal and/or try one new thing a day for 30 days, etc.  Most people who tell others that they don’t have enough time are really saying Hey, I hear ya.  Taking care of myself right now isn’t a priority. 

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” ~H. Jackson Brown

Just saying.  ^^^

Now that some of you are pissed at me for telling the truth, let’s move on to the strategies.  By the way, if you don’t know who is writing this, read this link later. <<< You might be less inclined to be mad at me.  I have been there.

  1. Acceptance is key.  Thus the truth-telling.  I used every excuse in the book, blamed whatever I could, but the truth was, I needed to learn to love myself pain and all.  I needed to accept that I might not ever be well, and that my friends, was a bitch.   That was the other part of me that I denied.
  2. Dig deep.  Somewhere, deep inside of me, was the part that was hardest to make peace with.  It was the me before all this happened.  You know what, she didn’t ask for this.  Okay.  Got that.  But how would she feel knowing that I was staying stuck in my pain?  She’d be pretty pissed at me.  It is time to make peace with the old me, and become who I was supposed to be.
  3. Watch how the language changes.  I remember my dad.  Sigh.  He is still alive, don’t worry, but it was the way he dealt with this situation (bless his heart).  As someone who is highly sensitive to others emotions, I could feel his sadness.  He felt so sorry for me.  NOT helpful.  It was not his fault you see, but still not helpful.  As part of the parents who both gave me the hereditary condition, they both, in some small way, felt responsible.  Okay, so it is important to recognize who is around you when you speak to yourself as well.  You might be so programmed by your parents or others that you continue this woe is me…I am not worthy…I am so __________.  Insert your negative perception of yourself.
  4. Get out of your head!!  I am now great at this, but I was NOT for many years.  As a matter of fact, I have been practicing this now for 3 years and it has really changed my world.  In yoga, I mention this frequently as I teach my class this one thing.  Drop back into your body.  That sounds easy to do, but let’s try it right now.  Touch your scalp.  Feel your hair follicles come alive as you give yourself a scalp massage.  Touch the top of your ears, all the way down to your ear lobes.  Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply for a full round of three.  Say “I am worthy.” With each breath feel the worthiness come into your being.  Now open your eyes.  You have just soothed your parasympathetic nervous system.  Ta-dahhhh (you basically help the fight or flight response calm down).

Whew.  I don’t know about you, but I feel better just exploring how these tips really helped me change my life.  In creating my journal therapy content each month, there is so much more that goes into it.  I created a group where people like me could heal in a supportive environment and work through this “stuff” that truly gets in the way of our healing.  Never before had I ever, in 18 years, found a group that was working on healing the Head|Heart|Health of the matter.  Quite simply, I created what brought me back to life.

I hope this has helped you today and if you want to be included on my newsletter, the sign up is on the side of the blog.  Feel free to use the social sharing buttons if this article resonated with you!

She believed

 

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Ways to Spread Kindness Around.

Don’t let the headlines fool you friends.  Kindness exists out there in the world just waiting for you to start the ripples.  I have been a passionate supporter of kindness for many years, but even I drop the ball.

I was going through the archives here, that is the button on the side of the blog that lets you pull up past months, and I found in November I usually give you guys lots of ideas on how to spread kindness.

What exactly is kindness?

Kindness is the spirit of being friendly, generous and considerate.

Can I show kindness even if I don’t like people?

Yes you can.  Even if you prefer not to talk to others, there are many ways you can practice just being kind in everyday life and see what happens; however, is you don’t really like going out or even interacting with others verbally, I still have some idea for you to try.

What do you mean by “ripple effect”?

The results of your effort or action will ripple out and continue on long after you have done your good deed or kind action.

Okay, I am willing to try it.  How do I get involved?

  1. Operation Gratitude would love to have your help.  They actually like to include at least 5 letters in these care packages that they send to deployed troops, new recruits and Veterans.  They have been told these hand written letters of thanks, kindness and love are some of the most treasured items that the people who receive them get.
  2. I really like the above idea ^^^, but I want to send letters to someone who is really down in the dumps.  In fact, I want to nominate someone to get letters!  <<< yes.  That’s a great idea.  How do I do that?  This site is really amazing and they read through the nominations and pick several to post for a 2 week period.  So keep checking back on the site or write to someone who has been nominated already.  The World Needs More Love Letters.
  3. Scan your day for 3 small things you have done to help someone else.  Quite simply, smile at strangers, hold the door for someone, or say thank you by looking someone directly in the eye.  Ask them how their day is, and mean it when you listen.  You might be the only one to ask them that today.  It can be the difference in something thinking no one notices them, to someone realizing they are worthy of notice.
  4. Give a “Shout Out” to one new person daily.  On social media, through e-mail, or a hand written note on a desk without your name if you prefer.  Tell them they are doing a good job and you notice their efforts at x.  If you see a co-worker do something good when no one was looking, surprise them with a coffee or a gift card the next day.  It really does create ripples.
  5. Pay attention to your mind, what you are sharing and what you are promoting out there.  Do NOT mindlessly promote what you hate.  Promote what you love.  It really can be that simple my friends.

kind

5 Tips for Developing Healthy Relationships Today!

I took a quick poll last week about the topics that my readers wanted to hear more about and this was one of the top three!  So to clarify for everyone out there, relationships don’t have to be romantic; however, I have been married for 18 years and this year marks year 20 with my college sweetheart.  My best-friend from elementary school and I have been friends for almost as old as I am…which is to say a long time.  Additionally, I have the greatest group of girlfriends who meet on a regular basis and are not afraid to let vulnerability be discussed.  Has it always been this way?  Heck no!!  All of the above relationships have been through some twists and turns, but I did pick up a few tips along the way.

5 Tips for Developing Healthy Relationships Today:

  1. Open lines of communication are the number one tip that I have for you today, and that includes the “trust factor”.  If you don’t trust your partner, your friends, or your family, how are you going to be open?  You aren’t.  You will always hold part of yourself back and that could even border on holding back the truth which will further work to damage the trust.  I had a friend for a number of years who I genuinely cared about; however, that being said, each and every time we talked she would hide things or craft some sort of story that never seemed to be quite the truth.  Time after time things were missing in our conversations.  I ignored these signs, until one day I simply could not.  The trust factor has to be there or the relationship will not be able to move forward.
  2. You have to be able to accept criticism that is honest and meant to help you grow.  That being said, if this criticism comes from a harsh argument, it will not be effective at all.  Moreover, you should develop active or reflective listening.  In active listening, we are genuinely interested in understanding what the other person is thinking, feeling, wanting, or what the message means, and we are able to process this as a type of feedback.  This is hard.  It is.  But I have seen it done with my group of girlfriends.  One of them recently went through a divorce and has developed this skill through that process.  She brings questions to the table about things and genuinely wants to know what we all think or how we feel.  It has strengthened our friendship whereas before, she did not want to listen to advice before as it was painful to her.  She is really trying hard to separate fact from feeling as she actively listens to our advice about whatever she is asking.  It also helps that we are not giving her unsolicited advice.  We are all there to lift her up.
  3. Develop and hone in on your compassion and empathy.  Remember how I dislike the word judge?  Icky.  It makes us feel like we are on trial; however, there is a thing called discernment and that is different.  We become aware of the emotional response and might know what triggers our friends, partners and family members.  We then try to come at it from a place of compassion.  We are more open and connected to what is going on this way and can tap into our inner intuition about what is really at the root of a problem.  This saves us.  It reminds us to speak from love.
  4. Remember to have boundaries.  It is important to remember how to separate your feelings from that of your friends and partners.  Likewise, it is important to know you can’t heal them emotionally.  That is their job and not yours.  One of my favorite memes recently has the little guy holding the jar of happiness and his friend comes over and says “Where did you get that?”  And little guy says “I made it myself.” BOOM!  Microphone drops.  Have boundaries on your emotions before they get drained.
  5. Make time for the relationship…that isn’t on technology.  The phones.  The phones.  They are everywhere.  When trying to communicate they are a distraction.  Make time by shutting off the technology and creating a sacred space for you to unwind and be real.  This can be weekly, or monthly depending on your schedule, but try to get outside as well and enjoy some much-needed fresh air with your friend or loved one.  It’s not only a lifesaver…but a relationship saver as well.

FriendshipWant to know more about how to journal yourself to a better you?  Read more under 4 Weeks to Wellness.

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3 Tips for Heart-centered Living

What does it mean to be heart-centered anyway?  Well, you have heard that your heart wants one thing, but your brain wants another before.  So let’s take a moment to examine that.  The ego, or psyche sometimes thinks first and understands later.  I know that I have been guilty of that.  However, let’s suppose for a moment that you start to really focus within and you see past the surface.  It takes a while to get used to pausing without reacting or speaking first, and learning to express from your heart, but it really can be done.

As we start to move from fear-based thinking to love-based living, the world expands.  Fear tends to shrink our environment and make us less likely to step out of that comfort zone, and love, well, love helps us do amazing things.  I am not just talking about love for others though…this part is important.  You definitely need to practice self-love and forgiveness of your own faults.  It is not selfish to put self-care into place.  So many times my clients have to step into their own beauty and realize that their oxygen mask has to be put on first.  But no one can make another person do that…it is within them to see that they need to give themselves permission to be human and practice compassion for themselves.  We don’t have to be last.  It it is crucial to realize this.  As you learn this truth, everything else falls into place.

3 tips for heart-centered living:

  1. Stop and breathe.  Are you having a heart-centered reaction or are you so busy in your head that things have quickly gone from A to Z?  Take three deep breaths, and if you are at a desk, sit up straight and tall elongating your spine and square your shoulders up and then gently bring the shoulder blades down your back.  Place the hands in your lap palms facing upwards.  Practice: Apana Vayu Mudra-The Mudra of the Heart by folding your middle and ring fingers towards the palm in such a way that they touch the tip of the thumb.  Fold the index finger inward allowing it to touch the base of the thumb.  The small finger should be stretched outward.  Keep your eyes closed and hold the mudra as long as you want to.  This mudra actually improves blood circulation to your heart.
  2. Practice compassion.  As we start to focus inwards, we realize that we have to live with compassion for ourselves and others.  We are all human going about our day in similar ways all around the world.  While we live in different places, have different lifestyles, ultimately, we want the best human experience we can have on this planet and hopefully leave it a better place.  So the struggles that involve the people we interact with on a daily basis do have some effect on us.  Practice: How are you being with people?  Look to the 4 A’s.  Attention, appreciation, admiration, and affection.  Are you open to whatever it is they have to say?  Reflect on your body language as well.  Tight jaw, tense shoulders.  Relax and open up your heart. 
  3. Live with passion.  Picture what you love doing, who you love being with, what stirs up your passion and fulfills you.  Practice: Get out your journal.  Write about what you would do if you didn’t have to worry about money?   If doubt creeps in write this instead: “I am enough, worthy, and deserving of following my passion.  I am strengthened by doing the things I love to do.  I am now living my heart-centered calling.”

Remind yourself throughout the day by touching your heart, practicing the mudra or even saying “Am I living through my heart right now or my head?”  These pauses in what we act on truly do make a difference when we don’t react right away.  Continue journaling about your passion and living through the heart.  I actually use this one every night:

Plain Blue Journal

To learn more about my new journal guide as part of my 4 Weeks to Wellness program, click here.follow heart

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Tips for living with pain…

Oh great.  Here is yet another blog article trying to tell me how to live with pain.  What does this writer know?  This writer lives with 6 invisible diseases…and all of them have caused pain.  Hereditary Hemochromatosis (iron overload), Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (sensitivity to light, skin blisters), Hashimoto’s Thyroid (autoimmune…caused extreme stomach issues), Epstein-Barr Virus (felt entire vertebral column flare-up), Depression from pain, and Fribromyalgia (when anyone touched my skin, it felt like a slap).

Over the last three years, the pain continued to get worse.  I opted not to be on the pharmaceutical drugs due to the fact that HH is a genetic condition and no doctor could tell me for sure if the drugs would make my liver worse.  So pain it was.  But I wasn’t going to stop there.  I continued my search for things to help me cope that were going to work with my body naturally.  What did I find?

  1. Turmeric milk.  Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory properties…due to the active compound curcumin.
  2. Relief.  Building on that, I take this product because it has ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, but even more than that it also includes turmeric root extract, as well as yucca root, which has long been used for osteoarthritis as well as inflammation of the intestine.  Ah-ha.  Hmm.  Remember my stomach pain before?  Better within weeks of getting on this.
  3. Restorative yoga.  Yoga has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol.  Do you think I might have been stressed when I moved if my whole body felt like it was on fire?  Yes.  Just a little.  The difference in restorative though, is that you get to use comfy bolsters, blocks and blankets.  So we made little nests, and sat in that pose for 5-15 minutes depending on what it was.  I had a hard time at first, but learned to let go of my expectations of what my body used to be able to do.  The poses became second nature.
  4. Vinyasa yoga for back pain.  I graduated to Vinyasa…honestly, only because a friend pulled me in the direction my mind was afraid to go.  When she suggested restorative, I gave it a try.  When she said that I could do Vinyasa and possibly teach one day, my mind shut her down due to the pain.  “She has no idea how much moving hurts.”  Said the mind…but the heart wanted to get better.  Thankfully, it’s pretty strong, and said “Let’s do this thing!!!”  And so I did.  Almost 200 hours later…the girl on fire.  Literally.
  5. Meditation-like thoughts.  When I felt myself go into the dark place of pain, I would literally stop and say things to myself like “I am breathing in.  I am breathing out.”  I didn’t come up with this on my own.  I read part of a Thich Nhat Hanh’s You are Here, except at the time, I didn’t want to be there.  ha.  So I never finished it.  But it did teach me to focus my breathing.
  6. Friends checking in on you.  This part became difficult.  Not many people were in this category.  When you are in pain, people slip away.  They do.  It’s not their fault, but it is in the human nature to be uncomfortable when you don’t know what to do.  Most don’t climb down in the hole with you.  Watch this short video to get the full meaning of “The Power of Empathy”.  Rarely can a response make something better, says Dr. Brown, what makes something better is a connection.

So my friends, I leave you with my connection to you.  I am in the hole with you.  I have climbed down there.  I will hug you.  I will give you that love and connection to your pain, but the next step is on you.  The best advice I have for you is to read more about my 4 Weeks to Wellness course and take that as your next step.  The program was created based off what I did to get my life back, and it truly and honestly saved me.

Read moreNew, “Work with Me” tab has more options to help you from home!

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What is programming?

Sometimes, you do the hard things first just to get them out-of-the-way.  Other times, you do them last…putting them off until you can wait no longer.  Many people have been broken by the “hard things” as they carry them around.  Yesterday in my yoga teacher training, we talked about a burden I still carry.  I have gone through a different sort of spiritual awakening and not everyone is going to be there when I am done.  I know this.  That being said, it doesn’t matter how much you know, how much you prepare yourself mentally for making the hard choices, it still hurts when people closest to you don’t understand, or worse, decide they know what’s best for you in your life and how you should handle a situation. 

What is programming anyway?

Because let’s say that the roles were reversed.  Would you know how to handle their pain?  Their righteousness?  Their “programming” as it appears?  Chances are, you would not.  It never fails to amaze me how many ugly things I see out there on the internet or social media platforms.  One in particular happened just last week.  An old friend from high school posted something he found funny…in defense of being gay.  You know where this is going.  He is openly gay…some people from our old way of life were programmed to think differently.  It ended up being rather sad…for the hater.  Not my friend.  He handled it well.

No matter what you think about another person’s way of life or beliefs, I want you to stop for a moment and think about what they have to carry through life.  Then think about what you are carrying.  Are you helping carry this person’s burden and do you genuinely care about them or are you just trying to persuade them that your beliefs are better than theirs thus adding to their burden??  Getting into an argument on social media and trying to persuade the masses about your way of thinking and how it’s been handed down from the mouth of God Himself helps absolutely no one.  What it does instead is send your ego forward.  You are no longer thinking with your heart…because if you were, you would understand that this person is carrying their own stuff the best they can and you pointing out their faults is clearly trying to break them down.  And honestly, I don’t think God instructs this way.  It’s time we stop doing that to each other my friends.

Carry

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Motivational Monday…for the dogs

Home Office Ponderings…

I thought about this post for most of the day…but honestly I wasn’t feeling well, so I am late in posting:)  Most of my friends went back to work today in the traditional sense.  I went back to work on making posts, quote posters and taking care of social media for a few local businesses so I didn’t have to call my boss and take a sick day.  My office staff was not particularly helpful; however, they are cute and fluffy.  They tend to take lots of naps and need numerous potty breaks.  Just in case you are new, my office staff looks like this:

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Anyway, I happen to find a hilarious and introspective quote last night that I wanted to share with you today.  Mostly because I love Ellen…I really do.  So Ellen, if you happen to be reading this, I absolutely love the way you give back on your show.  And if I ever find myself paying off the expenses of the above mentioned office-staff, well, I’d love to do more of what you do.  I know over the years I’ve picked one month to give to people in need, but I’d really like to make it an all year long thing.  So here you go:

Path

Words of a poet…

On the Facebook fan page today, I salute the writer Maya Angelou.  There are so many beautiful quotes from her, that I really would have a hard time choosing just one; however, the one I decided to make was something many people struggle with.

Keep your head held high and do your thing.  You know the truth of a situation in your heart, and that is all that matters.  If you truly keep replaying the events, write them down on paper, and burn them.  YES.  BURN them.  I DO know how hard this is, trust me, but I often counsel many friends about things beyond their control.  The number one thing is to be able to move forward and to remember some people come into your life to teach you things.  It might be a lesson you were not ready to learn, but now that you have learned it, let go and keep going.  Rest in peace Dr. Angelou.  You taught us many things.

 

Hope for humanity…

During November, I wrote some hard posts about the children I knew from the projects.  I gave you but one snapshot, one glimpse, into the life of a child born to poverty.  Most people walk around behind rose-colored glasses and fail to see these children as anything more than burdens on our society.  You know that’s the truth whether you want to admit it or not.  There were years I started hating giving gifts at Christmas.  That’s right.  I felt like I was the only one in the entire world who looked at the wealth of others and started wondering if they saw how ridiculous it was.

Then, a few years ago, I started hearing about the secret lay-away “Santa” and I wrote about it.  One of my friends saw, and became one.  I started feeling better about things.  Two years ago, I wrote about a man who saw my family in the grocery store, and perhaps it was because my husband I were being snippy about the price of things, but he kept listening to us.  I felt a bit weird.  I told my husband to keep it down.  We went down another row, and the man approached.  Now, I’m going to be honest.  I thought this man needed money.  I was wrong.  You can read about here.  But the funny thing was, I was prepared to help him.  I had no idea what was going to happen next.

Last year, I wrote about giving a gift card to the homeless man on an extraordinarily cold day.  Making eye contact, and him calling me friend was a good thing.  Sometimes I don’t think I do enough good for this world.  Other times, maybe the small things I do everyday do really matter in some small way.  I know it’s a ripple effect and I have to be more conscious about it.  I donate things all the time, but what I have not donated lately was my time.  I was working with a group of people, and I need to call them again.  It’s time to do something good for others.

Humanity

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Poverty…

What does poverty look like?

It can be any color.  Sometimes, it is painful.  It doesn’t have a phone, internet or cable.  Sometimes, it hangs out with anger.  It has a rumbling belly and a grudge a mile wide.  Sometimes it is cold.  It gets mad at others who don’t appreciate the finer things, like having a warm jacket.  Sometimes it is envious.  It might be friends with drugs and alcohol.  Sometimes, it tries to hide from those friends.  It doesn’t care if it has to use food stamps as long as that means food.  But sometimes, oh sometimes, it hates asking for help.  Poverty has pride even though others don’t notice it.  Sometimes, it was just born like this and wishes it could grow up to be something else.

I loved all my children instantly.  Even the difficult one.  The mad one.  The one who hated school.  I thought he hated me too, but since it was only first grade, what in the world did he have to be so angry for?

He didn’t listen, or do homework.  I tried to talk to his mother, but she didn’t answer the phone.  Half the numbers weren’t working for most of the kids by November anyway.  Some parents still hadn’t met me yet.  This was not what I thought.  What was I doing here?  One day, my angry friend didn’t show up to school.  He always tried to pick a fight with the other kids or back talk me, but I was still surprised he wasn’t there.  An hour or so after school started, in walked “Q” with his wife-beater on drenched in sweat (the kids called tank-top undershirts that name).  I felt his forehead, and asked him what in the world happened.  Was he sick?  No, I missed the bus.  Ok, so is your mom signing you in?  No, she’s not (he angrily spit out the words).  Okay, honey.  How did you get here?  I walked.  You walked???  To school???  Honey, I have to call your mom.  Where is she?  You can’t call her.  Her boyfriend ripped the phone off the wall and hit her with it.  So then, they left.  And I missed the bus.  At this point, I had to compose my features.  I was about to cry.  Ahem.  I’m just going to get my friend real quick.  Would you like to talk to her?  (I am/was legally bound to report abuse of all kinds and I didn’t know what else had happened, but before he said another word, I needed the counselor there.)  No.  I don’t.  Can I give you a hug?  Yes.  I squeezed Mr. Q as tight as I could infusing in him all the love I possessed so he knew someone cared.  So I got him working on whatever totally trivial piece of work I was required to teach this child.  Because let me tell you, I can’t remember what it was and he certainly needed to know he was loved right then.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I loved the curriculum I taught back then, but I knew I needed to teach so much more.  Things that are taught from birth to age 6 that slip the minds of some folks because they seem second nature.

I’d like to tell you this had a happy ending, but the truth is after I talked to the guidance counselor, his momma tried to come up to my class and start a fight with me.  I had just found out I was pregnant with my first child and the guidance counselor was there in the hall as the mom stared me down, mind you, I’m still a 5’2 white girl, and I stared right back.  She did make a motion as if to strike me, but did not.  She went in to see the principal and my friend Q was moved to a different room that year.  A black teacher’s room (see previous post if you wonder why this matters).  He came to my room every day.  Every single day after that.  He told me he missed me.  He asked to be moved back.  I was almost on the verge of tears so I sat him down.  “You didn’t do anything wrong, honey. And neither did I.  Sometimes, folks don’t see eye to eye on how to handle a situation, so they do the best they can.  Your momma, well, she doesn’t like me much now.  Maybe later she will, but right now she doesn’t.  It’s not your fault. ”  Like I said, Q came to see me everyday.  His teacher and I were already friends, so she knew how much it meant to me.  And guess what, she was married to a white man, but Q’s mom didn’t know that, ha.

Diversity

Writers note:  I wrote the two pieces separately, thinking of the same situation.  They seemed to fit together to give you, the reader, the whole picture.