Compassion: a gift for you, a gift for the world!

A friend of mine posted on Facebook “What breeds compassion?”  I love this question.  If we are looking for compassion in our lives one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is what can I do to offer compassion.  First let’s define what compassion is and isn’t.  Compassion is empathy, listening, support, asking what you can do to help the person through action, words, touch or time.  Compassion is not feeling bad for someone, asking what they are doing wrong, trying to fix it for them or judging them.  When we show someone compassion we create a space for them to be in their truth without judgement and when we are shown compassion we can come to the table without defensiveness and can show compassion in return.

So many of us are feeling a lot of negative emotions right now- fear, loss, confusion and uncertainty.  How can we “breed compassion” in the midst of these emotions?  One step at a time!  Take the time to offer yourself compassion first, then others, then compassion to the thing or person that you are having difficulty with.

When we feel that we are receiving compassion when we feel seen, heard and loved.  So how do you feel those things?  Acknowledge what you are feeling and going through.  See yourself in your dynamic, full paradoxical self.  Ask yourself what you need to feel held and seen.  Do for yourself what will fill your cup and/ or seek out the people who support that for you.  When we are able to show ourselves compassion the compassion we show others becomes more authentic.  It can be hardest to show ourselves compassion because we often judge ourselves harder than anyone else can judge us.  Compassion is not loving someone because they are without fault, it is loving them in the full spectrum of who they are.  The wounded pieces of ourselves that can create our shortcomings are the pieces that need compassion the most.  How can you love your “unlovable” parts?  Compassion.

For many of us, showing others compassion is easier than showing compassion to ourselves.  Being compassionate to others gives them the platform to show up in an authentic and honest way.  Having compassion is not saying that they are perfect or that some unacceptable behaviors are ok. Rather, it is saying “I see you in your complex humanity and you are lovable, you are worthy”.  Imagine how this can transform shame.  When I am in a shame place I am not showing up to express my love or passion.  When I am in shame, I am judging myself so harshly that I fear being seen. When I am shown compassion in this place I become comfortable enough to look at this piece of me and transform it into something that can serve me and others.  I believe we are born love, out of love and into our expression of love.  This love is at the root of our desire for connection and when we show others compassion we are inviting a human connection as opposed to judgements that separate us.  Connection says we are alike; this is compassion.sunSHINE

The hardest things/people to show compassion to can be the things/people that we fear or possibly even hate.  How do we show compassion to the person who so completely lives in disregard to everything around them?  How do we show compassion to the things or people that do things that directly cause us harm?  Now this is a touchy subject.  I by no means believe that people should ever accept abuse or harmful behavior from someone under the guise of forgiveness or compassion.  For my own spirit and mental balance, I may hold compassion for that person.  In my early 20’s I spent 1 ½ years in an abusive relationship. For most of that time I held myself in shame which made excuses for my abuser.  Today I hold compassion for him in my heart.  I have not seen or spoken to him in 12 years but I know he is a wounded soul.  My compassion shows me that because he was raised in an extremely physically and sexually violent home he had no choice to learn these things as a child (which does not excuse him for not learning a different thing as an adult).  I have heard that he is still living the same life he was when I was with him.  He is miserable, self-hating, self-destructive and lost.  I don’t know if he will ever find love for or from others, yet I pray he will because just as you are part of me, he is part of me, we are all connected.  Through seeing the connections of everything we can find compassion for everything.  Through this compassion, I can look at my abuser and know that he acted out of fear and when I am in a place of fear I can also present from a place of anger.  The seeds are within all of us- we are all human.

When we are compassionate to ourselves, our loved ones and our “enemies” we open a healing within us that promotes healing and humanity in our relationships and the world.  I think of the saying “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and I think humanity is that chain.  Every link I help make stronger, the chain becomes stronger.  Every link I make weaker, the chain becomes weaker.  What do I want to do with my tools and abilities?  What differences can I make in my family, my relationships, the world, this chain of humanity?  What changes can I make within myself by using compassion?    My hope for the world is that you have compassion for yourself, that is the starting place of a true revolution!

 

What Love Language Do You Speak?

We all have our own way in which we love others and how we feel love from others.  It is so easy to assume that the way we naturally are compelled to love someone is the how we should go about it.  But what happens when the way they receive love is different?

In Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages he lists the love languages as words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service and physical touch.  My natural way of giving love is acts of service and sometimes words of affirmation.  My husband’s way in which he receives love is physical touch.  This can cause problems.  My acts of service are not always physical, sometimes it is about being there to emotionally support someone.  I do a lot of this type of thing for my husband but all he wants is for me to play with his hair, hold his hand, rest my hand on his knee or something like that.  This leaves him not fully feeling the love I have for him.  He can logically understand and see my love for him but that is not the same as feeling it.  It is my job, as someone who loves him to be aware of loving him the way he needs to be loved.

I feel love from words of affirmation, my husband shows love through physical touch.  Again, this can be difficult.  We have both come a long way in learning to love each other the way that we each can feel it and in learning to ask for what we need when we need it.  I have found that when you have relationships where you are given love in the way you can receive it, not only is their deeper intimacy and a greater sense of well being, there is also a sense of being supported on a deep level.0810141255

What better gift could you give to someone than meeting them where they are and loving them in a way they can really feel loved.  Through learning how to love someone and learning how you want to be loved you dramatically increase the intimacy in your relationships and you can also be loved in a way you can feel love more deeply than you have before.  It takes vulnerability and presence to follow through with this.

Do you know how you want to be loved?  Do the people in your life know how you want to be loved?  This is wonderful tool to have in your toolbox.  It is not just for your romantic partner, it is useful with your children, friends, and work relations.  The 5 love languages web site has a quiz you can take to learn which love language is yours.  This knowledge is a great gift for you and your loved ones.  What better time of year is there to give and receive love in a language that you can understand.

Take Responsibility and Take Your Power Back

Responsibility is not a four letter word.  Really, it isn’t.  Taking responsibility means owning your power and stepping away from victim hood.  We all of ways of being that get in our way of making the choices that will help us get there, yet we are responsible for healing those parts of us in order to live the life we want.  If we want to take our power back it is up to us to do the work, to take the steps that will heal us, free us, and empower us to live the life we want.

It is important to identify the patterns we have created and the purposes they serve in our lives.  Sometimes we find ourselves continually “triggered” by someone’s actions.  This can be a wonderful opportunity to look at what is going on within us that is causing this reaction.  In all honesty, we do not create these patterns with the intention of being stuck.  Rather, they are created to keep us safe and in a familiar situation where we can be surrounded by the known instead of the unknown.  What are the patterns and what purpose do they serve?  Frequently, we find that these patterns do not serve the purpose for which they were intended. I use to always feel alone and I would never reach out for support when I needed it.  I continually found myself feeling rejected and unlovable.  When I did the work to look at this dynamic I discovered I kept myself isolated to not feel rejected or unlovable but there I was feeling that way.  This was self-defeating and a self-fulfilling paradigm that kept me stuck.  There I was in victim hood, struggling to find someone blame.  When we develop a way of being in order to keep us safe we find that we are not, in fact, safe.  We are simply in an unsafe situation that we have become accustomed to.

The next thing that will help us find our freedom is to take steps to heal the pain/trauma that prompted us to create the patterns in the first place.  This is not always easy.  Identifying these patterns and their root causes can be enough to make the changes that will transform our lives.  Other times there is deep long-term core work that we need to undergo in order to achieve the changes we are seeking.springofferwebsite

Long-term work does not mean postponing changes.  We ask ourselves, “What do I want to do differently?”  If you want freedom from a job or relationship or if you are seeking more fulfillment and connection in your life you need to create small steps.  This can feel risky!  Thoughts of failure, worthiness and ability can come up and block us from the path we have created.  This is where the old patterns emerge, trying to keep us in the rut we have been living in.

If you find yourself blocked, it is important to look at what emotions are blocking you and what behaviors are preventing you from moving forward.  Working through these blocks and behaviors are part of working through the trauma.  Keep working on it.  Freedom is just around the corner.

Through this healing process (I recommend working with a professional if you find you are having difficulty doing it on your own) you will find your power, you will find your ability to take responsibility for your actions, behaviors and emotions.  Your reactions to other people’s behaviors will no longer have the same effect on your well being.  You will find that your inner balance will be determined by you while other people’s actions will not influence your actions.  You will learn to detach from others and trust in your own inner knowledge.  One small step at a time you will find you can create the life that you have been striving for.

Begin today!  You are the one with all the power in your life.  You can choose now to take it back.  You can take responsibility for the dreams you have been wanting to achieve all your life.

Detaching With Love, Is Love

I was talking with a friend the other day and she mentioned how I love fiercely.  I love that!  Yes, I love fiercely.  I will fight, emotionally, spiritually, energetically for anyone I love.  Do you need someone to have your back?  I am there.  Do you need holding?  Got it!  I will love you fiercely!  Sometimes, when helping support someone they may choose to walk away.  At these times I still love fiercely but from a distance.  Sometimes I just need to let go of a person and their situation so they can follow the path that is meant for them.  Sometimes I just need to detach…with love.

My son, who I referred to in a blog recently, has chosen a path away from me.  I want to save him, I want to love him fiercely, I want to help him see how detrimental his choices are to the life he wants to lead.  In the other blog I talked about holding space for him and his process and being present for what is happening.  Since then he has made different and more detrimental choices and all I can do is let him know I am here and I love him.

It can be so hard to detach from someone.  We naturally want to fix the situation, love the person and get them to see things our way.  It is not your job to fix anyone, no matter how broken you may think they are.   I like to think of it as letting the person know that I love them and I need to love myself more.  So as I watch him from a distance I remind him I am here and I love him and I allow myself to not be enmeshed in his dysfunction.

One of the important things of detaching with love is detachto remember that you have needs separate from the other person.  There may be times that detaching means you need to choose yourself over the other person.  Even though you may need to make that hard decision it does not mean that you don’t love them.  Detaching with love gives you the ability to love the person, not their behavior and allow them to take responsibility for their actions.

Sometimes the way you support the person you are detaching from may have financial and physical ramifications.  Remember, this is not your responsibility.  Your first responsibility is to yourself and whatever additional struggle the person may encounter is a direct result of their actions.  Separating yourself emotionally can help you recognize where their responsibility begins and yours ends.

I will not tell you that this is easy.  With my son, MY SON, I find myself wanting to save him from himself.  I continually remind myself that he is an individual with his own life and I know the lessons he learns from taking ownership of his actions will help him throughout his life.  As he walks away from his family I remind him that his family is here and he can choose something different whenever he chooses.

It is also important to remember that you cannot control anyone else’s behavior.  We all make our own choices and to change, an individual needs to make the choice to change for themselves otherwise a core change will not take place. Therefore, you need to know that you can only change yourself and the lessons you can learn through the process can be as transformative as the lessons the person you are detaching from has to learn.

If you are going through a situation that is challenging your ability to love yourself above others and get your own needs met, I encourage you to seek support that will help you find the tools to detach with love.

What can I do differently?

Recently I have been making a turn around a corner in my marriage.  Things aren’t perfect, I am not perfect, he IS NOT perfect. I have found that I am not getting all that I want out of the relationship and I have been focused on what he is not doing and what I want him to do differently.  It has been a few months of this and, in a way, I have felt lost in my focusing on what HE needs to do to make things better.  Suddenly, I realized that it is not him that I need to worry about changing, it is me1415821786232 that needs to find a new way to do things.

Almost 20 years ago after too many relationships with people that really did not have what I wanted I wrote a list of “prerequisites”, this list was 87 things that I wanted out of a person that I was with in a relationship.  After completing the list and reading it over I realized that these are the same things that I expected of myself and what I expected of friends.  It was an interesting thing to notice and I came to find that if I am coming to the table with these “prerequisites” I could ask for them in return and if I wasn’t offering those things then how could I expect someone else to offer them to me.  When I met my husband I was amazed at how easily, willingly and wonderfully he met all of my “prerequisites” and I came to find that he offered me so much more than what I had asked for.

After 13 years of marriage life has become more routine and we both have fallen into taking each other for granted.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things that he could change.  There are ways he can act sometimes that I am not ok with.  His side of the street is not clean and I have come to see that I need to worry about cleaning my side of the street before telling him about his side of the street.

So I am asking myself “What can I do different?”, “Am I offering the same things I am asking for?”.  You can’t force someone else to change and you can’t really make them do something they don’t want to do.  Each individual needs to make the choice to change.  So if I can’t make my husband change I need to look at what I can do.  I can take the first step.  I can reach out to him.  I can take the initiative to fix what isn’t working.  If I want more connection with him and I leave it to him then I may never get what I want.  If I take steps to increase connection I can reach my goal and both him and I will benefit from the connection.

I have also been asking myself how often I push myself out of my comfort zone to do something for him or for the relationship.  The answer (don’t tell anyone) is not very often.  As time has gone by I find myself being complacent in the upkeep and growing of the relationship.  I am luckier today than I was the day I met my husband and as we both insist on being human we will have struggles and every time I ask myself what I can do I am taking steps to our future and my own personal growth.

Here are 6 steps we can take to change dynamics in relationships:

  • Ask what can I do differently
  • Allow the other person to be their own individual.
  • Stretch out of my comfort zone.
  • Allow myself to be vulnerable.
  • Take ownership of my mistakes.
  • Always remember to come back to the center of love.

I want to be sure that I am clear that I am not talking about accepting and overlooking truly unacceptable behaviors.  I am talking about a relationship where there is a solid foundation of respect and love.   Also I apply this to all of my relationships and friendships.

What can you do differently today?  How can you be the change you want to see?  Take the leap, your happiness is waiting!

The Healing That Makes Self-Love Possible.

I have seen so many discussions lately about self-love and the difficulty with authentically feeling that love.  What I see people coming up against over and over is the inability to connect with the love that they want to offer themselves or receive from other people.

Before we can gain the effects of loving ourselves we have to do the healing around what is was that created the inability in the first place.  For me, I had a wound that caused me to feel unworthy and unlovable, what I found was until I did the work on that issue I was not able to receive love from anyone.  I continually thought that people who claimed to love me did not truly love me because however they loved me, I couldn’t feel it. When I finally did the healing work around my sense of unworthiness, I was able to see that all alon
g I had been surrounded by love that was waiting to be let in.

There are different “childhood wounds” that may create this difficulty with self-love.  As children, from the time we are born, we are constantly looking for love.  This can come in 947269_10201351208160579_62486174_nthe form of being held and fed as a baby, having attention paid to us, receiving love, affection and positive reflections from those around us.  When we don’t receive this we can become wounded.  Maybe we were abandoned or our parent(s) didn’t know how to show love.  Maybe we have physical illnesses that created a barrier from receiving what we needed or maybe our disposition just required more attention than another child.  Whatever the reason for the original wound, as adults it is our responsibility to heal it in order to create what we want in our lives.

There are many tools you can use to heal the inner child.

There is a technique where the “now” you and you the child write to each other.  You with your dominant hand and the inner child with the non-dominant hand write back and forth with apologies and openness allowing the inner child to ask for what it needs in order to feel whole.  The first time I did this I thought it was ridiculous.  I was happily surprised to see how strong the effects can be.

You can ask yourself what it is the inner child needs and find ways to make that happen.  If your child self needed to play more then play, blow some bubbles, get a stuffed animal, play with blocks.  If you needed more touch, touch yourself, caress your face, give yourself a hug.  Find someone that you trust that can help you do some of these things.

Offer validation and understanding to the younger you for things they did and things they felt.  It is amazing how strong the power of validation can be.  Just being heard can give a person the ability to conquer anything.

These are a few small things that you can do to begin the healing process.  There is so much information about healing the inner child everywhere you look.  Find something that works for you.  Seek counseling, life coaching, spiritual guidance.  The point of all of this is to heal yourself enough that you can begin the journey of self-love which is one of the most beautiful journeys there is.

No More Resolutions! Resolve to change your life!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

So, do you have a plan for this new year.  Are you looking for a new beginning?

This is the time of year when everyone is making resolutions to do something different.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way.  To make a real change in your life more needs to happen than just making a resolution.  Let’s talk about this.  Let’s figure out how to set you up for success.  Really the success is waiting right around the corner for you.  Whether you are interested in starting something new or stopping something old we are going to go through some tools to help you succeed with transforming your life.

Whatever it is you are embarking on it is important to understand how you got where you are and any underlying issues that have contributed to the manifestation of this particular issue.  Know that through healing what is injured within you, you can begin to make changes in the areas that are effected by that injury.

When I am quitting something or beginning something new tFeatured Image -- 126his is a process that I created that works really well for me.  I answered all these questions on paper and took pictures with my phone so that I always had the answers with me in case I needed to look at the answers to remind myself why I was doing this.

Why quit/Why start?  – Ask yourself why.  Why would embarking on this be a good idea.  How would following through with this help you reach your goals or live the life you want to live?

When I stop doing this thing or start doing this new thing, what will I have that I don’t have now? – What freedoms or joy will I gain?  I ask myself what I will gain in all areas of my life.  I want to really paint a big beautiful picture of the many wonderful things you will gain through making this change in your life.

What am I releasing that no longer serves me? – This is so important.  So often the thing that needs to be released is an old story or old trauma.  Sometimes this can be as simple as making the decision to release this “old” thing sometimes there is real work for healing that needs to be done.  Here you can start to name the things that you need to release in order to be successful in your endeavor.  If you are plagued by shaming self-talk then work on releasing shaming self-talk and start healing what has created that dynamic in your life in the first place.

What am I claiming – THIS IS THE BEST PART!  What are you claiming!?  What things are you inviting into your life that are being blocked by doing/not doing this particular thing.  There can be overlap between this list and the “What will I have?” list but this  list should definitely be longer and full of inspiring words that name what you are claiming.

What can I do or do instead? – If you are giving something up it is important to replace it with something else.  Look at the list of things you will gain from giving this thing up.  When you would usually partake in the thing you are giving up, instead do something that helps you progress towards the things that you are claiming.  Whether working on giving up something or beginning something new it is always important to set yourself up for success.  If you are deciding to quit eating sugar don’t go to a bakery.  If you want to start going to the gym daily be sure to schedule it and schedule it for a time when you will be able to go.  If you are not a morning person don’t commit to going to the gym early in the morning.  Ask yourself “what things can I do that will make it easier for me follow through with this decision?”

Affirmations – I create affirmations that speak to the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of the change I am making.  When I am having a difficult time with something it can be useful to use these affirmations in conjunction with tools that I am gaining through following through with all the above questions.

Is this easy?  Sometimes but frequently not.  Can you do it?  Yes!  This is more than a resolution.  This is you making a decision to change your life to create the reality that you want. You can make the decision anytime it does not take a new year.   Sometimes you may have a setback.  This is not a failure.  You can start again anytime you want.  Really, every day you have the opportunity to make a choice.  What are you choosing today?  What is your resolve?

 

Breathe: Inhale, Exhale

In this blog I frequently talk about tools and ideas to help people find a way to achieve a goal or shift a perspective.  Well, today I am writing a blog to myself.  I am hoping that as I go through this process I will find some answers for myself.  I have teenage sons. Often times I am on the ball and my home is a well-oiled machine where we have balance and harmony, fun and laughter.  Unfortunately, this is not one of those times.

About a month ago my 17 year-old decided he was an adult and no longer had to come home, tell me what he was doing or where he was going.  Some nights he would simply choose to stay out and not come home.  As time has gone on he is getting worse and more disrespectful.

This past week has been especially trying. He has chosen to not come home for the past 3 days and I have just now found out where he has been.  I have been sitting at home since Monday feeling frozen and unable to do anything but wait for resolution to come. I have been wondering what I can do in this place of uncertainty, unknowing and fear.  How can I support him, love him and still live my life, function and accomplish all the things I need to do?

Well, there are a few things I have come up with.  I want to share them thwith you because I believe that we, as humans, have a tendency to get stuck when things get hard.  We freeze, fight or fly and these options may not be useful.  What can we do that will be truly productive in getting the life we want and reaching our goals?  These are the steps have I found useful.

The most important thing I need to do is breathe.  No, seriously, just take a moment and breathe, nothing else.  I make an effort to do this without wondering what will happen, or what to do next.  I don’t multi task, I just intentionally breathe.  I take the time to be present in my body and still in my mind.  As I let myself breathe, I release the tension I am holding in my body and let go of the fear and attachment to outcome.

I ask myself what I need, have I eaten, showered, etc.   I make sure my basic needs are provided.  If there is nothing I need at that moment I go about my day.  The place I get stuck is in a feeling of “I don’t know what to do”.  I know the dishes need to be done, laundry washed and folded, appointments need to be made with clients, blogs written, the list goes on.  But I sit there stuck, what do I do?  So I have found it useful to make a list.  Today I need to….  There is no wondering what needs to be done it is written down in black and white.  I do what needs to be done one thing at a time.

Of course these are the things that I do after I have asked myself what I can do in this situation to change the current circumstances or help foster resolution that is beneficial on all levels.  In this particular case I can ask myself what my son needs, what is he missing, what is creating this behavior and how can we come to a better place where he is safe happy and feels loved and supported?

Lastly, I allow myself to be where I am and feel what I feel.  I started with writing about letting go and I end with acceptance.  I don’t try to deny any part of the process I am going through.  I allow whatever needs to come up.  I am present with myself.  And when I find these things difficult I return to my breath.

Inhale

Exhale

Choose Gratitude

As a life coach I am all about helping my clients transform their current life situations from what they are tolerating to what they are celebrating.  I mean really, don’t we all want to live a life that we celebrate fully and not just tolerate.

What if making the shift from tolerating to celebrating was as easy as gratitude?  Well, it is!

A lot of people talk about gratitude and being grateful for the good things and it can be hard to let this carry over to difficult things.  The deeper gifts of gratitude come when you can take a situation that can be seen as negative and find the gold within it.

When I was around fifteen years old my family discovered that one of my aunts had a disease that my grandmother also suffered from.  Up until that point my family was fragmented and some of my fathers’ siblings had gone off in separate directions.  When my aunt got sick my family come back together.  The thought process was, we need to support each other and find a way to make sure this illness doesn’t continue to affect our family.

When confronted with this terrible disease we all had a choice, stay separate and alone or come together. In choosing to come together our family grew closer and more loving with each other.  We started supporting and loving each other on more and deeper levels.  We shifted from despair over the disease, to gratitude for the love and support of family.

Tabundhe point of the story is to give an example that we can choose how we perceive things so that we are left feeling grateful instead of depressed or let down.  In this situation I have found the ability to be thankful for this disease that gave me my family an opportunity to support, be supported and know that I have a place to go home.

There are some things that you can’t change, like other people, but you can still be grateful for them anyway.   Sometimes my favorite things are the things that challenge me.  Yes it is great when things are easy and just flow but those things don’t help me grow.  My teenage twin sons on the other hand are neither easy nor simple.  It is HARD!  I am so grateful for the difficulty there.  I continually have the opportunity to dive deeper into my understanding and practice of compassion.  I get to improve my ability to let go and look at the bigger picture.  Whatever it is that I learn from parenting 17 year old twin boys, I find that I am growing and continually becoming a better person.  How could I not be grateful?

What thing in your life are you just tolerating?  What is the one thing in your life that you wish would change?  How can your perspective of this change so that it is transformed into a different situation?  What are you grateful for in this situation?  What have you learned?  How have you grown?  How are you better because of this?

If you can look at something and see what you get out of it before looking at what it may take away from you are on the road to living a life that you are celebrating.  So, I want to challenge you.  Can you look at every situation in your life and find 3 things to be grateful for in each instance?

Celebrate today for all that it is!  You are here, you get to…