Making way for Self-Compassion

Making way for Self-Compassion

We know the importance of being kind and compassionate towards others, but few of us understand the value of directing compassion and kindness inward. Compassion towards ourselves conflicts with values of stoicism, with having a stiff upper lip and being told to discipline our powerful emotions. But, research and experience demonstrate that a healthy dose of self-compassion can actually help us break vicious cycles, build emotional resilience, and move forward.

What does it mean to focus on values and strengths and why does it work?

What does it mean to focus on values and strengths and why does it work?

We all know that values are important and we try to teach them to our kids, but when it comes to determining if we are living in harmony with our values it can be a tricky subject. As we go along in life we make millions of choices. Over time those millions of choices add up to our lifestyle. When we start to feel stuck, or depressed, or stressed, or when our health seems to be going steadily downhill, the first, and sometimes most illuminating step is to ask with curiosity and honesty: What are my values in life? Another way of asking this is, what do I hold dear, and why is it important to me?

Neuroplasticity

What does neuroplasticity mean for you? It means you can drop that habit by forming a new one...at any age. Not so long ago, scientists thought that our brains couldn't change after a certain age, but research shows that's just not true. So how do we change? By redirecting our thoughts and our actions. Certainly, it is easier said than done. It's difficult to do alone. Which is where coaching comes in. It's both simple and powerful to sit with a coach trained to find and focus on strengths, values, and motivators. This video from Sentis really underscored the hard work that each of us do to change our brains. Perhaps, more presciently,  it speaks to the idea that no matter what our past looks like, by focusing on the present, we really can shape our future.

I really want this one thing and if I can't get it, I'll be crushed

Sometimes we get so focused on something, perhaps a particular job, partner, or house and we set so much store by it, that we're devastated when it doesn't work out. In other words, when the opportunity vanishes, we tell ourselves, we failed. I am guilty of this kind of thinking and it can cause some pretty destructive anxiety. Well, a coaching friend recently outlined a vision in an upcoming book, a new vision for pursuing what we most want in life. Consider what would happen if you focused instead on what your interests are - on what excites you and gets you going. Let your thinking range far and wide. Brainstorming with a friend is a good practice - they may think of things you didn't and you can borrow from each other's lists. From there, you can see what it is you're interested in that led you to think about a given possibility as the one, and you may even decide that the one isn't the one any longer. From your list of interests you can develop a field of alternative possibilities. For example, you'll have many jobs (or even a job that doesn't exist yet!); many possible partner scenarios; or different types of living situations and homes. When you do decide to go after a particular job (or house or partner) you'll know that you do have other options if this one doesn't work out. After all, it's pursuing your interests that matters, rather than any one particular thing or person. Whew, that's a load off my mind! Thanks to Justin Wright at Habitus Incorporated for these insights.

The Stars

I am under an expanse of stars shining brightly in rural Eastern Oregon, unfiltered by the usual light pollution from the city. Snow from a fresh snowfall lights up the landscape while the stars glow with intensity. Why is it such a comfort to be surrounded by cold snow, a dark sky, and millions of twinkling stars? In the vastness of the universe and the starkness of nature, I am a tiny presence. I am standing here, in the middle of this beauty, which I believe means that I am a part of it.

When you are confused, sad, hurt, or in need of feeling something, do you ever just go outside? This thought occurs to me often, and as often as I follow it, I begin to work through my difficulty. It's not just an anecdotal suggestion...a new field of research is opening around "Ecotherapy": using the outdoors as therapy for disease or disorder. Outdoors can be as simple as a walk around the block or ten minutes on the porch if that's all you have to spare. Remembering that you too are a part of nature, a part of the vastness of the universe, helps to diminish the sometimes overwhelming feelings of worry, anxiety, fear, frustration, anger, sadness - you name it - that everyday events throw your way. While you're outside open your eyes, pause, and enjoy being a part of it all.