I had a whole other blog post written on self-compassion for this week… but you don’t get to read it.
Know why? I forgot to save it.
In fact I had a whole document with the sparks of three different posts (creative juices were really flowing yesterday) but they are all gone because I captured them in a stream of consciousness moment and then left them unsaved on the desktop. I had to reboot this morning and yup, now they are gone.
That’s a spiritual practice with a name—mindlessness.
As in, not tending to the present moment.
So I guess this is a backdoor entré into a discussion about self-compassion.
Because you know where your self-compassion gains the most traction?
In those very places where you feel like a big lam-o.
(Feel free to post on facebook or re tweet that little gem:)
Meditation actually engenders compassion— including compassion for ourselves. It turns out this is a developing field in nuero-science and that the process of rewiring your brain through meditation actually grows self-compassion and compassion toward others. (The best part? Self-compassion is documented to makes us happier. Self-esteem, by contrast, tends to pump up our ego and make us more attached to our self image and thus less resilient in the face of life’s inevitable bumps and bruises.)
The Three Parts to Self-Compassion:
1) Kindness. As in replacing the inner critic with a sweeter inner voice. For a long time I struggled with this idea feeling like “self-love” was kind of woo woo and new agey. I have finally found a way to practice it for myself by simply imagining how I would talk to one of my children if they were going through a similar struggle (like having just forgotten to save their work on the computer). Would I tell them they were a big lamo? No. I would be kind in the face of their distress about losing something they worked hard on. So I try to use that same voice for myself.
2) Common Humanity. I experienced this lesson this week out on a walk with our dog. I bumped into a family checking out a house for sale across the street and enjoyed learning more about their process. They shared what they are looking for in a house (more room for their growing family, a better commute, and green outdoor environs for their kiddos to play). As I listened I felt myself fill with a deep sense of comfort as I recognized the similarity between what they want and what I want in my life. The conversation reminded me that I am held in this much larger force field of humans desiring to be happy, free from harm, and to live in safe and nurturing environments. This is as true for the mamas in Syria where a whole generation has been disrupted as it is for me and the family I bumped into. And remembering that I am not alone in my human desires felt good and gave rise to an organic inner sense of gratitude for my home and garden and many other gifts. (Here is a picture of our yard on this fine fall day. My office is through those windows and every few minutes a fresh batch of yellow leaves rains down around me while I write. Delicious!)
3) Mindfulness. In the context of self-compassion, mindfulness is “a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. Mindfulness also requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.” Read more about Self-Compassion here… including some free guided meditations.
Now cultivating compassion for ourselves doesn’t mean that there aren’t still lessons to learn.
In fact, it is vital to observe the energy leaks in your life, the places where you routinely forget to be mindful of your gifts or the things you really most care about (like saving writing– yes I’ve done this very thing before. Recently!) So I commit here to all of you to honor my ideas and creativity by clicking the save button.
Perhaps you have found yourself routinely forgetting to tend to something that you really actually care about.
Maybe you are spending money on things you don’t truly desire or enjoy simply because you feel like you should have them or they will make you look a certain way (a financial energy leak).
Or perhaps you are spending time with people and giving away your precious attention when it doesn’t actually leave you feeling good or with enough energy to care well for yourself (an emotional energy leak).
Or maybe you are weighed down with a messy kitchen or closet or storage shed (guilty!) which makes daily tasks like putting away clothes, dishes or toys feel like a chore. (an energy leak in your physical environment).
Begin to notice these habits where what you are doing is not lining up with the way you want to be living. And simply get curious about what is going on… observing the pattern automatically makes you more mindful and often the next step toward healing the energy leak will reveal itself without you even having to consciously figure it out.
For it turns out we patch energy leaks not with criticism but with kindness: counter-intuitive, but so very true.
Do you have any habitul energy leaks in your life? Places where you forget to honor your authentic self, gifts, or desires?
(Hint noting and naming them really is the bulk of the work).
For extra credit, share in the comments below what you commit to doing (one next step) to patch the energy leak with your conscious attention and self compassion.
And Happy Halloween! Feeling the festive pumpkin spirit I share above the fall labyrinth our kindergartner Perl made earlier this week.
PS Last week I rolled out two new coaching services in response to particular requests. Need help making a big decision or navigating a transition? Could you use some support communicating more clearly in an important relationship? Read on for details… xxo
Discovery Session – $150
Feel like you could use some support right now? Facing a big decision or life transition and need a sounding board — someone to listen (who is not personally involved in your life) and able to support you in identifying next steps which feel right? This gentle yet powerful 90 minute session will help you find clarity. Includes a centering meditation as well as a discovery packet loaded with juicy exercises which support you in making decisions in a soul-centered way. Read what people are saying about Bird in Hand coaching and call or email to schedule your session today!
Conscious Communication Session – $200
Are you looking for ways to communicate more clearly with a partner or child? Would you like more freedom and choice to respond rather than react to the people in your life? In this 120 minute session you will learn about the Enneagram and discern your personality type and how to use that information to better understand yourself and others. A great option for couples this session depersonalizes communication tension and provides simple practices for enhancing authentic connection.