• The Year of Self Compassion

    The Year of Self Compassion

Sunday Mornings are tough. Every Sunday we go to my parents’ house for lunch or dinner. It is a chance for us to check in on them, take care of anything they need and provide a break from the day to day routine. I love that we can go down and visit them and be there for them AND it is incredibly hard. It is hard to be faced with the reality of where Dad is. To see how things have changed. It is a weekly dose of reality. And it brings up a lot of crap.  If there is one thing my Dad’s illness has taught me is the power of holding both.

I LOVE that we can visit them AND it stress me out.

I LOVE that my nearest and dearest is willing to be this close with my family AND we struggle with the closeness.

I LOVE that I have such a close knit relationship with my parents AND it is hard on a daily basis to be this close.

Most Sundays I pour myself into work a way of hopping myself up so I can then face the visit to my parents.

Most Sundays I close myself off and hide from what is really happening.

Most Sundays I try to please everyone, making sure all parties are at peace and feeling good about life.

This Sunday I want to show up for me first and then everyone else. I want to ride the line between being open and  having boundaries. I want to fully experience the day without hiding myself, without running, without numbing.  I want to allow myself to notice whatever thought, feeling, idea comes up. Honestly I don’t feel up for this challenge AND I am going to have lots of compassion for myself as I move through the day.

Honestly I don’t feel up for this challenge AND I am going to have lots of compassion for myself as I move through the day.

Showing up for Sundays with Ted.

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The reason I find it so tough to write here is that every time I do my inner critic slams me down.

Telling me:

“This is too personal, too ‘woo is me’, too much naval gazing.” or
“There is REAL stuff happening in the world who cares about my silly world.”

And mostly I think my inner critic is trying to protect me from showing up. From exploring these areas of my life. Right now life is challenging. There are some big things happening in MY world and yes, I am going to naval gaze at those because it affects me.  If I don’t deal with MY world I am not helpful to others. So I do want to show up here. I do want to express my pain and frustration with compassion.

Ironic that I am beating myself up over a self-compassion blog 🙂 So I do want to show up here. I do want to express my pain and frustration with compassion.

So I do want to show up here. I do want to express my pain and frustration with compassion.  I do want to explore loss and grief and marriage. I want to write about my life and not always have to find the lesson in it like I do with my Live Happier blog. I want this place to be mine. To be me. Uniquely me.  Inner Critic and All.

So yes, I hear you my lovely inner critic guide. AND I am going to show up here anyway. Show up here again and again and again to get in the flow of writing my story. My truth. My experiences. Lessons or no lessons.

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Vacation was FANTASTIC. So fantastic that I didn’t want to come back. In fact, I cried for 48 hours after we came back because I was so sad to be home. Part of me keeps asking why do I dread my life so much right now. Honestly, I love my life or I should say I love most of my life. Right now with my dad’s body and mind being ripped to shreds by Parkinson’s with Dementia life is hard. I have a lot on my plate and dealing with family stuff tends to bring all my old patterns right to the forefront. This process is unlike any other I have gone through because the end result is going to suck. Life will never be the same. Yes, the stress will ease but the act that will cause the stress to ease is my father not being alive which isn’t really something I want.

This struggle is partly why I wanted to do the year of self-compassion. To practice loving myself through this process…family drama and all.

AND I LOVE vacation. I love the variety, seeing new things, experiencing a different schedule, and living unrestricted.  My life today has a lot of restrictions due to the commitments I have and I resent them from time to time. Finding a way to ease up on the restrictions AND be there for everyone is a big goal of mine these days. Holding both is a key to self compassion and something I am constantly working on.

**Ironically, I just Googled…post-vacation hangover turns out it is a ‘THING” Here is the definition from Urban Dictionary which I totally relate to!

The pain of returning to the reality of your real life after experiencing a vacation you wish was your real life.

Sufferers of Awesome Vacation Hangover will often feel anger or resentment within the first week post vacation and question the decisions they have made leading them to where they are and the things they do on a daily basis.

They may find themselves daydreaming of a different life, lingering nuggets of joy from memories of where they were or what they were doing on vacation.

Sufferers might even try to invent imaginary ways to make the vacation life they were living a reality. Only to find themselves more miserable than they were before they even left on vacation to begin with.

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I want to show up here more. I have been living this year of self-compassion in the world, but I haven’t been writing about it. I want to write about it more. I want to show up here more. My theory is it is my inner critic who is keeping me from showing up here more and writing. From getting quiet, and just sharing my experience. There are lots of judgments coming my way about being too self-centered or ego driven. That sharing here is silly and trite. But bottom line..I want to share here more. My Biggest Fan says, the whole point of this year was to get out of your comfort zone and explore self-compassion in your life. SO LET’S DO IT. So I am making the commitment to show up here and write, every day for the next 30 days. That is my commitment for August.

Show up and Write.

Perfectly Imperfect.

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Yesterday we started a 12-day vacation. Just me and my husband visiting friends and family and enjoying some much-needed downtime. Taking downtime is hard for me. Allowing myself the space for whatever comes up is WAY harder than I want it to be. I want to be good at this…I am a Live Happier expert after all. But I am struggling.  Struggling with the “right” way (Ah that lovely mantra of right way.)

  • What is the right way to contact my Cousin and tell her I am here?
  • What is the right way to balance answering business emails and being on vacation?
  • What is the right way to keep everyone happy?
  • what is the right way to be on vacation?

For all my life the idea of bootstrapping has played a big role. No room for feelings/doubts/fear. You just put on a happy face and keep plowing ahead. And I KNOW that doesn’t work for me anymore. And yet, it is my default. My hardwired programming.  Even if I am tired, I  want to give myself the grace to be tired. If I am sad, I want to give myself the grace to be sad.

I want to give myself the grace to just be on this vacation. To allow stuff to come up as it does. To enjoy time with my husband and really BE with him. To just notice myself. To not get caught up in ‘doing it right’ and when I notice that to lovingly remind myself “Sweetheart, there is no right way…what do YOU want to do.”  and give myself the grace to do that. As my husband so lovingly said last night I need to ask myself “what would Nancy Do…WWND”

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One thing I love is a plan. I am not promising I am going to stick to the plan. But here is the plan, for now.  Each month I will post in the projects area my theme for that month including the book I am reading or the class I am taking and the other activities I am experimenting with. I will be blogging (and vlogging) about my journey including random experiences and thoughts I am having. I will also be doing regular updates on that month’s project, and I will link to those updates on the project page, as well as tagging them.

So even though this project started last week, I am kicking it off officially as of May 15th. (for no other reason than 5-15 is easy to remember.) The crazy thing about the universe is the more I start paying attention; the more these crazy coincidences start to happen.  I think it has more to do with me letting go of control and making more room for ‘crazy coincidences’ than the universe.

ANYHOO…as I was doing my mindless flipping through Facebook today I noticed that Brené Brown and Kristen Neff are offering a class on Self-Compassion. Honestly, my first response was CRAP. My idea of exploring self-compassion is no longer unique or special. And then my inner critic took over, “you are an idiot for thinking this is special.  You should just give up now before you waste too much time.” This refrain is typical for me. I am the queen of comparison and wanting to be original and new.

Later as I was working out, my wise voice spoke up and said, “Isn’t the point of this to be stretching yourself and learning more about self-compassion…I mean, self-compassion isn’t an original topic. What if you took the course from two of your favorite teachers and incorporated it into your knowledge?” I mean WOW…you go Wise Voice!!  So true. The point of this is to learn and engage on my journey of self-compassion.  (Also a great reminder that my wisdom shows up when I slow down and give it room.) An area I want to grow on is more open to learning which is why I started this whole thing to begin with. So today I registered for the class, and I am excited to dive into the lessons and share my insights here.  Not just my insights but also my inner critics commentary throughout…which I am sure she will show up loud and proud.

5/23/16 Started the COURAGEWorks class today

My notes and ah-ha’s from the Part 1 of class


Self Kindness vs. Self Judgment

  • Active self soothing.
  • What do I need in the moment and motivation to give myself what I need?

Common Humanity vs. Isolation

  • The feeling that “this shouldn’t be happening” creates a sense of isolation and abnormality.

Mindfulness vs. Over-Identification

  • The ability to pay attention to what’s happening in the present moment, as it is happening.
  • With mindfulness, we are experientially open to what’s actually happening as opposed to thinking about it.

Mindfulness aka Courageous Presence (LOVE that term Courageous Presence): Is the ability to pay attention to what is happening in the present moment, as it is happening. When we are mindful we are open to what’s actually happening not just what we are thinking about it.

If something bad happens to someone else we give them lots of compassion: “are you ok?” “Do you need anything?” For ourselves, we immediately go into fix-it mode. We don’t give ourselves the PAUSE to make room for the compassion like we would with a friend.

Self-Compassion is reminding ourselves that this is the way life is…it is imperfect, it is unpredictable it is unknown. Helpful reminder we don’t know the outcome.  THIS insight came from watching the TV show The Catch and was a real ah-ha for me. So often my lack of self-compassion comes from the need to do it ‘right’ and some of that involves an ability to predict the future (accurately. Which is an impossible task. It has been a helpful reminder to me to say, “we don’t know the outcome yet, so it is ok that this is difficult)

6/12/16 Lesson 2 the COURAGEWorks class

Man on Man, I have been dragging my feet on this class. The thing around self-compassion that drives me crazy is the woo woo feeling of it.  The crystal wearing, low voice, pan flute images that it stirs in my head. Kristen Neff although I LOVE her work and her research, stirs that up for me BIG TIME. I appreciate throughout the class Brené Brown saying how much is struggling with this side of the self-compassion work too.

Especially when it is rooted in research!  I loved the idea that we all have a flight, fight or freeze response.  When we feel threated we want to engage in one of those so we can attack the problem. which is a necessary part of surviving, but what if the problem is us?
What if WE have done something wrong?
What if the threat is ourselves?
Then, physiologically we attack ourselves.
We go after ourselves (thus the inner critic) AND the only thing that helps that attack is another physiological response.

This physiological response is called the caregiving system found in Mammals (enter the woo-woo). This Caregiving System consists of

  1.  Physical Warmth
  2. Gentle Touch
  3. Soothing Vocalizations.

I KNOW these work in quieting my inner critic because I have practiced them and I KNOW they work because research shows me (research NOT woo woo) so why do I have such an issue with them?  To be explored in a later post. But as Brené said to her resistance…How’s the old way working for ya? which is an excellent point 🙂 So back to learning from The CourageWorks Class..2 more lessons to go.

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It has been A LONG time since I have had a full on, unprovoked attack of the Mongers. Yesterday was such an attack. Just a normal Saturday, relaxing, cleaning, doing my regular routine. We had made plans with new friends for the evening, and I was nervous as I usually get around a new social situation.

I decided to spend some time outside reading and as I sat there enjoying my book my Mongers just started jabbering. “You are too much, you are too intense, you are too deep, you are too much of an introvert” On and on they went hitting all of my ‘sensitive’ topics. All my favorite deep wounds that I have held onto for years and years. Tears stung my eyes and the feeling of hopelessness and unworthiness hit from all sides

In the midst of an all-out attack, it is challenging (if not impossible) not to believe the Mongers. It is odd because it is almost shocking how easy it is to fall into the trance of agreement. “Yes, you are right, I am too much, I am too sensitive.” I wouldn’t use the word comfortable because the attack feels anything but comfortable but it does feel familiar and borders on comforting.

Honestly, as I sat there all my practices to date on Self-Compassion fell flat. Putting my hands over my heart, telling myself to be kind, etc. I tried those to no avail because the pull of agreement was too much. For every “it’s ok, don’t be so hard on yourself” I could muster I had an equally strong “You are too sensitive, and here you go again.” I was wrestling for worthiness. My Wise voice (aka Self Compassion) vs. my Mongers (inner critic

And then my Inner critic said to me, “Soon your husband will figure all this out and leave you.” and at that moment, I just gave up. I allowed the inner critic to win.

So I allowed it. I gave up the allowed the thoughts to play there; I allowed the tears to come. I allowed those old wounds to be opened.  Not out of any deep wisdom but out of pure exhaustion and frustration. To be honest, I simply gave up. I gave up with a subtle distinction.  I allowed myself the feelings. I allowed myself the pain. I didn’t pick it up and run with it. I didn’t look for more proof of how sensitive I was. I just allowed myself the sadness around those thoughts.

And after 30 minutes or so something in me said, “Are these thoughts valid or are you just re-playing them our of familiarity.” “Are you going to allow them to attack your marriage?” And I realized I had a choice. I could be taken down by the thoughts, or I could allow them to play there unattached.

I started thinking ok you should DO something you should share this with someone because you are just getting hammered here, and it is totally irrational. Maybe if I shared it with my husband I could start to unhook this stuff. (Side note it is a common conversation for my husband and me to talk about this stuff so going to him was a normal/easy response) But then my Monger said, You can’t share this with your husband you will just be tipping him off to how crazy you are.” And a part of me went, “Right I can’t share this with him” And a few moments later something shifted….and I thought “WHAT!?!?! You can’t NOT share this….if you allow secret keeping because you are in shame you are in real trouble”

Those Mongers are wily!!

So with major trepidation, I went to my husband and said through tears, “I am begin hammered, and my Mongers are telling me how I over clarify, I am too intense, and I am too counselory.” He smiled and said to me, “Those are the three reasons I love you the most.” and gave me a big hug. And my wise voice said, “Yes, those are some of your favorite traits too, and it took you a long time to embrace them. So thanks for the trip down memory lane but these messages are old and outdated.”

That’s when things shifted. It was a win for the wise voice. And as I went through the evening and my Mongers continued their assault, and I lovingly told them, “these messages are old and outdated” and watched them as if I was observing a bad movie. Eventually, they passed, and I found my full footing again.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Wrestling with Mongers doesn’t work.
  • They bring up old wounds and old triggers.
  • Secret keeping makes it worse.
  • Just because you think it doesn’t make it valid.
  • The only way through is love and unattached observation. (WAY easier said than done)
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One of my favorite quotes is “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” I use it all the time with clients and not unfortunately not as much with myself. But I am noticing how often I compare my insides to someone else’s outsides.

It starts off easy enough. I have an idea for my business and I hop online to see if other people are doing something similar under the guise of  “getting ideas”. But that quickly turns into “finding the right way to do the idea” which quickly digresses to “everyone knows more than me” which ends up being “I am a loser and they have it all figured out.”  I get paralyzed by comparison and completely lose my own idea/voice/plan.  I get stuck in comparison…

What are they doing?
Why are they doing it like that?
WOW they are doing it so much better than me.
Why didn’t I think of that!??

Which morphs into…Well, I am just not going to do anything.

For years, I took all my decisions to committee. Especially in my personal life, I wouldn’t make a decision without getting a consensus that it was the RIGHT choice. I learned this behavior from my father who has an overwhelming desire to ‘do it right’. The downfall in this quest is frequently I end up doing nothing. Years ago, I stopped needing the committee in my personal life and thought I had kicked the need overall but recently I see in my business how much I need to do it right. I much I need the approval of the committee.  The truth is I don’t agree with the committee. I don’t agree with their version of right.  So what I have noticed is now the pattern goes.

What are they doing?
Why are they doing it like that?
WOW they are doing it so much different than me!
But I don’t want to do it like that. I want to do it differently.
But they said the RIGHT way was there way and I don’t like there way.

Ending up in paralysis. I don’t do anything…not because I think they are doing it better but because I am scared my way won’t work. Again fear through comparison but a very different bent.

I am afraid my way won’t work when I haven’t even tried my way.  Whose to say THEY know the only way?!?

So this week in the quest for self-compassion, I banned myself from all of the groups. Unsubscribed from a number of email lists and decided along with the Year of Self-Compassion I was doing the Summer of Following my Gut. This summer I am going to just do my thing. Run my business, teach my teaching, speak from my gut and do it without gathering from the committee.  Let’s see if MY way works.

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