Self-Compassion – Is it a theme?
A couple weeks ago I had a wonderful opportunity to be the keynote at the 2015 Wyoming Distance Education Conference. It was such an honor to work to support my friends and former peers in the Wyoming Distance Education system; a group of people that work so hard themselves to support a very large state full of deserving students. They work to make sure anyone with the desire and willingness to put in the effort has an educational program that will work for them no matter their location. The main message in my keynote was the need for self-care; the need for each of us to pay attention to ourselves, to our actions, our thoughts, and our health. Nobody else can tell us when we have had enough; when we need to take some time; when we are hurting our health due to stress in our life.
It’s ironic, really. “Write a blog post” has been on my to-do list for more weeks than I’d like to admit, along with a few other things that I haven’t made happen. I’ve allowed a variety of excuses to be made for not getting these things done. My husband asked for help on some projects he’s completing around the house. We have guests coming up and a party, for which to prepare. All of this is true, but really that’s not why I’ve not written a blog post. As I watched a short video Monday evening by Tara Brach called Freedom Thru Self-Compassion, I realized I wasn’t writing and doing some other things I “should” be doing because I hadn’t listened to the speech I gave. I hadn’t noticed when I stopped paying attention to myself.
Phew… I’m still human. I still fall into old patterns. I still have to watch for that habit of eating too much and then realizing that I’m doing it because I’m avoiding something or, more likely as in this case, I’m doing it because I’m doubting myself. I’m allowing thoughts that aren’t useful to play like a record in my head and it’s taken me a few weeks to recognize them. That's awesome! It's only taken me a few weeks, not months or longer as has been known to happen in the past! Woohoo! These thoughts ask questions that mire me in the old habits of self-doubt and block the new habits of self-compassion. Most of us have some place in our life where we feel like we aren’t enough, like we aren’t deserving.
When I was talking to the WyDEC group I was mostly talking about the stress from overwork. The stress of trying to develop online programs, in the world of traditional education. But, it’s just as likely that we need to protect ourselves from the stress of our own habits and thoughts.
Today I wondered through my gardens and appreciated the spring flowers. I have to walk through every day now, because they are growing and changing fast. Every day new flowers are open and ready to be admired. The bees and hummingbirds are already busy taking in each flower as it loosens up and opens up to the sun, wind, and rain. These flowers which have such relatively short lives open to everything Mother Nature has to throw at them – which is quite a bit up on our hill! They give their all every moment whether they last 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month. As I took this time today, I reminded myself that I am good. Hey, I got the gardens weeded! In addition to appreciating the flowers I focused on my strengths and not on my weaknesses. I reminded myself that I may not be perfect, but in giving everything I can, I am good. I don’t need to be mired in this quick sand of non-movement any longer. I just need to move forward and do what I can do each day. As my feeling of self-compassion slowly comes back I smile, I gently touch the feeling of not enough and just allow it to feel warmth and love, allow it to know deep down, at least for a moment, it is enough.
The good side of doubt is it allows us to see new truths and be open to new thoughts. For now, I investigate that renewed idea that I am enough. So, tonight I write and tomorrow I move forward with the other things that have been on hold and I ask you the question Tara Brach asked at the end of the video I watched tonight. “In what way could you offer more compassion to yourself and what would be possible in your life if you did?”
I invite you to do two things now.
One, close your eyes for just a moment, bringing your attention to your breath and ask yourself that question. “How can I offer myself more compassion today?”
Two, when you catch yourself thinking or writing, “I am good enough”, cross out the enough. You are good. You are all you need to be. This was my practice as I went back through to reread this post one last time….