Posts Tagged ‘self-compassion’

thinking-person-hiYou’ve seen this before, right?  And another: “Don’t believe everything your mind tells you.” Easier said than done. Especially if your mind is telling you that you are stupid. Ugly. Bad. Yep, the yucky stuff – the kind of messages we’d like to silence or ignore.

As I make my way through “The Weight Escape” book, I’ve found it helpful to review some of the principles and exercises from the Acceptance and Commitment
Therapy (ACT) model once again. To think about ACT principles, like how we all try to control our internal experience (and how that doesn’t work); how easily we can become fused, or caught up in our thoughts; and the value of living more fully in the present moment (if we’re willing). During a training, I heard one ACT expert say that we are trying to move away from a “feel good” agenda to a “feel your feelings well” agenda.  This can be hard, right? I know when I have a painful thought or feeling, I still want to run away! (Although I’ve gotten much better at recognizing this impulse, and staying, when it is in line with my values.) (more…)

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back to school message

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“But ICute Little Girl With Her Teddy Bear HD Wallpaper-1280x720-cutelittlebabies.blogspot.com want to be a kind and generous friend,” my six-year-old daughter says, sniffling from the back seat. Underneath her unruly mop of curly hair, her big brown eyes fill with tears.

“But honey, how did you feel when Tommy insisted on taking your bracelet, even though you said no?”

“Bad!” She begins to cry, clutching her scruffy bunny to her chest.

This morning, I had an opportunity – albeit a painful one – to discuss the idea of “being a good friend to ourselves” with my daughter; to suggest to her that saying “No,” and learning how to stand up for ourselves, can be part of cultivating self-compassion.

It’s a tough ride, this thing we call life, and we all can get a little banged up along the way, adults and kiddos alike. But through the practices of self-compassion, a balanced, kind approach to the experiences we encounter as part of daily existence, we can ease our suffering, respond more skillfully, and feel more connected with ourselves – and others – as a result.

For more self-compassion resources and research from several of the pioneers in the field, check out Dr. Kristin Neff’s website or the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, which was developed by Dr. Neff and another esteemed self-compassion researcher, Dr. Christopher Germer.


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advocacyIn one of my psychotherapy sessions, I found myself saying, “I’m your body’s advocate!” to a woman who was struggling to balance her need for food with the other urgent to-do tasks of the day. I wondered, aloud, how we’d all become so far removed from such basic elements of self-care, when feeding our bodies (and spending a few moments to think about the optimal choices) seemed an inconvenience, one we were eager to rush through and get done with, rather than a valued action.

But I get it, really I do. Even though I spend much of my professional life counseling others on how to “come home” to their bodies, and how to reconnect and respond with compassionate care. Because I’m also a cautionary tale, a “workaholic-in-recovery,” who spent 5+ years of doctoral training saying things like, “When I graduate, I’ll….” (take care of myself). “After I get licensed, I’ll….” “After I become a mother, I’ll…” (more…)

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Today, I woke up in pain, lots of it, after attending a second yoga class at a new studio. I’d felt hopeful and proud that I was committing again to regular practice, even if I was a little skeptical about whether the studio was a good fit. Because here’s the catch: because of previous injuries, anmountain-pose-400x400d due to years of benign neglect, as I pursed academic training and attended to many things, but not, in particular, my body, I still forget (or deny) that my body  needs extra care and support. This process requires loads of patience, and self-compassion, and also, ideally, a skilled teacher who understands my struggles, who doesn’t look at my body and quickly say: “You can do that…” or “you should…”

The best teachers are those that are invested in our process, not just in making sure we attain a pose or goal. They meet us where we are at, and provide encouragement, especially when the going is hard. Sometimes, we need them to help us become more grounded and strong, before we are ready to take the next step.  Sometimes, we need them to stay with us in our place of vulnerability and fear, so that we feel a little less alone along the way. In our society, we’re often congratulated for appearing self-sufficient or independent, but less often so for seeking help. Even if pulling back from something that might over-extend us, or asking for more support, is the wisest, bravest (and hardest) thing to do.

While each of us identifies those wise, skilled teachers to help us along our journeys, we can also practice standing by ourselves. Standing BY ourselves – as in, not alone, but instead, befriending: Acknowledging and Allowing our experience to be what it is, whether it is easy or hard; not Over-Identifying with the story of what this “means” about ourselves or our possibilities; and offering heaps of Self-compassion, along the way.

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I Love You, Nose! I Love You, Toes! by Linda Davick

A fun book for children about appreciating ALL of your body parts – and a compassionate reminder to us adults about the value of our bodies, regardless of shape or size.

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The Antidote to Shame

ImageLately I’ve been reading from several books by Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, a well-known shame researcher who gave an amazing talk on shame and vulnerability via the TedXTalks two years ago. If you haven’t seen the short video, I highly recommend it.

In her newest book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brown highlights how revealing vulnerability can feel scary or uncomfortable to all of us. It seems natural that we might all flee many risks of exposure, of being fully seen with all of our “warts” or shortcomings, either real or imagined, especially living in a society, family unit, or mental space where we feel that we never “measure up,” that we’re never good enough. At its most basic definition, shame is the fear of disconnection from others, the feeling that we are inherently flawed and thus inherently unlovable to others. Let that sink in for a minute. Can you relate to these words at all? Have you ever had an experience when you thought or felt on some level, “This is it. I’ve been found out – every dark, icky, horrible part of me has been revealed, and now I’ll be all alone.” For many of us, feelings of shame can activate all kinds of self-destructive behaviors, including “emotional” over-eating, drinking, withdrawal, or harsh outbursts toward ourselves or others. It’s just so hard to tolerate, especially if we didn’t grow up with family members who courageously modeled expression and acceptance of vulnerability in its many forms.

Yet Brown argues – and backs up her statements with references to her own research, and that of her colleagues – that the antidote to the sense of shame, this fear of disconnection, which permeates our culture, is Courage….to reveal ourselves to each other, to approach our own struggles (and those of others) with greater compassion, perhaps even with a little gentle humor. To acknowledge – even if it is painfully so – “Yes, I am flawed. I have vulnerability. And I still matter. I’m of value, and deserve to belong.”

To close, I’d like to share the opening quote from Chapter 3 (“Understanding and Combating Shame, aka Gremlin Ninja Warrior Training”) of Brown’s book:

“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. That why it loves perfectionists – it’s so easy to keep us quiet. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees. Shame hates having words wrapped around it. If we speak shame, it begins to wither. Just the way exposure to light was deadly for the gremlins, language and story bring light to shame and destroy it.”

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