Finding Self-Compassion

Small changes seem to bring BIG changes if we can just persist and practice enough…

It is amazing to me when things start settling in – first we understand a concept with our minds, and then over time as we practice,  we understand it deeply with our hearts – and then the real change happens…   In my experience real change happens faster when we involve the right side of our brain and our subconscious and art journal / sketch / doodle responses and bring in visualisations / meditations.  Slowly for me have I been learning self-compassion…

self-compassion-book

I’ve been lucky this year to do Brene Brown’s Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course and Kristin Neff & Brene Brown’s Self-Compassion course- both online:  http://www.courageworks.com/shop/classes/self-compassion-with-kristin-neff-brene-brown and Tara Brach & Jack Kornfiled’s incredibly in depth Power Of Awareness online mindfulness course http://www.soundstrue.com/store/power-of-awareness where self-compassion is a key component…

We all have that inner critic, that war within ourselves…sometimes without us even being aware of it. The expectations we place on ourselves can be unrealistic and unachievable and we can be constantly beating ourselves up for not being better, perfect…

When I find myself getting highly critical of my loved ones then I know I’m being even more critical of myself!  Kristin Neff talks about how we are so much kinder and more compassionate to a best friend or child than we are to ourselves in the same situation yet it is very hard to express authentic compassion to others if we cannot express it to ourselves.

For me the journey of reducing this intense self-criticism began when I first became a Mum almost 18 years ago and had post natal depression.   I needed to let go of the ‘perfect’ should messages and give myself permission to have a messy house, look messy and have a messy garden and be tired and grumpy sometimes!   Since then it’s like I’ve needed to peel back the layers – uncovering other aspects of being too harsh on myself that I didn’t even know were there!

In the Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course a powerful exercise is to find photos of your younger self and write down messages of self-compassion…it was very healing to find teenage photos and remember all of the angst and instead write with empathy, understanding, kindness and gentleness…as you would to your own child who is struggling.

Then in Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion course I learned that there are 3 core components to self-compassion:

  1. Mindfully notice that you are at war with yourself
  2. Realise our common humanity – we are ALL imperfect, we are all struggling on some level, we are all on a journey
  3. Offer words of kindness, and explore how to actively nurture yourself…

If you think about it this is what we would offer a friend or a child – we would

  1. Notice they are struggling
  2. Empathise and offer that reassurance – ‘it can be difficult’
  3. Offer words of kindness and give a little nurturing

As Brene Brown puts it when we are truly compassionate for another human being it brings out our best selves – yet often the same scenario for ourselves and we treat ourselves worse than anyone else!!  We would never say to someone else what can go through our own minds!

So I have been art journaling and reading and meditating on this topic for a few months now…practicing….and then just recently I was at war with myself.   I had good intentions to change my life for the better but my inner critic was LOUDLY saying ‘give up, it’s not worth it, you don’t have the will power, you’re not strong enough’ And the debate in my head was so unpleasant I wanted to give up JUST to silence the inner critic.

But then I remembered – self-compassion! I noticed and labelled what was going on….’I’m at war with myself’ – just doing that made it a little easier to breathe…then I was able to place my hand over my heart and breathe into the feeling and recognise…’gee it’s tough sometimes to be human, to have all these choices, to make a change for better’….then I remembered times in my past where it has taken at least a year to make one small change to the point that I can easily do it daily … and I was able to offer some kind reassuring words…

And just that small moment – resonated through my life to be a BIG shift – all week it was easier to make the change, all week I was kinder to myself…  So it took awhile for the info to go from head level to heart level but when it did – it was a beautiful moment!

I’m wondering if you have experienced something similar?  Or if you would like more self-compassion in your life?

I’m excited that we’ll be reading and discussing Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff as part of our online Mindfulness Book Club in February 2017.   We’ll also practice some self-compassion exercises and if you live in Port Macquarie then we’ll meet in person to discuss and practice… I’m really looking forward to it!

self-compassion-mindfulness-book-club

More Info: https://www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/mindfulness-book-club

or you can join us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/littlemindfulmomentsbookclub/

 

 

 

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The need to recharge….mindfully!

seasaw-card

The one thing children wear out faster than shoes

is their parents!!

I love this card (thanks Ruth!)….and had forgotten I had it – that is the beauty of spending some time in the school holidays decluttering the house! It started with creating the feel of 2 bedrooms within one bedroom for my twins to reduce the fights and before I knew it we were decluttering the whole house! Such a satisfying feeling though! We have only been in our house for just less than 3 years – amazing what a family of 6 can gather!! Hard to work out what to keep though especially when it comes to kids toys / books / artwork that they no longer use / want but that I feel really sentimental towards!  I kept using Marie Kondo’s method of ‘does this bring me joy?’ and it was a really mindful process!
And in terms of feeling worn out….it was only by stopping work in the school holidays that I realised how worn out I was! Not only did we need to buy new shoes for the kids….but I needed to find some new energy!!! It was so important to stop, rest, reflect, find new ways or rediscover old ways to nurture and nourish my self, sleep more, nap in the middle of the day, reduce expectations of what needed to be done….and especially to take time out from nagging / hurrying the kids in the mornings and evenings (re:school / homework!) and instead just hang out with them!
I think sometimes as parents/carers / grandparents we forget the HUGE load we carry just in running a house and in nurturing our kids AND then we place so many more expectations on ourselves to also work / volunteer / support others!
It is so important to pause, take stock, reflect, look after ourselves and reset, recharge, relax and find ways to rebalance our lives! I am so grateful I was able to take that time over the school holidays and kind of annoyed with myself that yet again I had let myself get worn out – espite my best intentions to live a balanced life!!
How about you? Have you had some time out recently? Are you able to book some time out soon? I really like that idea that we need time daily, a longer period of time weekly and then we need something bigger – like a weekend/week away yearly!! I’m looking forward to hearing some ways that you nourish and look after you? Always good to hear what works for others as then we can learn or remember new ways we can look after ourselves!!  And we can remind ourselves that we ALL need it – we are human after all and we ALL need to rest and take time out! 🙂 x Sara

Gladdening our heart increases our resilience…

Breathing in the good – Gladdening our heart…Building our resilience…
Joy quote
I’m currently doing Brene Brown’s Art Journalling course on the Gifts of Imperfection! (https://www.ownlifeclasses.com/pages/brene-brown)
 
I totally recommend it – it’s fun and gets the creative juices flowing and covers topics such as courage, joy & gratitude & creativity! All things I need more of in my life!
 
Brene talks about something called ‘foreboding joy’ – and I love the concept! It is where feeling joy & gratitude makes us feel sooo vulnerable that we deflect it, move on or even go straight to a place of fear where we worry about what we will lose.
 
She shares as an example going in to say goodnight to her daughter and melting with love – then immediately being fearful that something bad might happen to her daughter – almost as a protective instinct!
 
This totally makes sense to me – to keep ourselves safe we are on the look out for all possible and perceived dangers – AND we hardly allow ourselves to feel, to breathe in joy! No wonder so many of us are feeling stressed and burnt out.
 
So this past week I’ve been noticing those beautiful joyful moments – that may be really fleeting – singing loudly in the car with my daughter, seeing a turtle while stand up paddle boarding, laughing with the kids, seeing a community of people working together and deliberately pausing and breathing it in and sitting with it!
 
The more I practice mindfulness the more I realise we have a choice as to where to focus our thoughts and mind…and the more I focus on loving kindness and gratitude and joy the better I feel…and the more resilient I am.
 
If overcome with vulnerability then Brene recommends saying out loud I’m feeling vulnerable and I’m grateful for…so we still acknowledge the moment!
 
Tara Brach has a great meditation on her website re: gladdening the heart and it’s about deliberately recalling activities you love to do and happy memories – the art journalling activities are great for that! And in the brain research now they know that dwelling on happy memories releases a hit of the feel good dopamine…so it’s lovely to stop and breathe in a good moment and store it as a happy memory to turn to for a mood boost when you need it!
 
So let me know how you gladden your heart this week – what golden moments, no matter how small or fleeting did you breathe in to your heart? 🙂 
My new Resilient Families Thriving Kids Online Coaching Course starts in August.  You can sign up here: https://mindfulparentingmindfulcoachingonline.thinkific.com/ 
Would love to have you share the journey with us! Cheers, Sara x