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.

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?

 

“Do or Do Not. There is no try!” : Celebrating Failure in order to DO.

Celebrating failure

Wait…what?  Celebrate failure!?

YES!  Celebrate failure.  So often we look at things through such a limited lens we can’t see the treasure trove of gifts that are surrounding us.  There was a time when this limited lens was the only one I had and the thought of looking at things in a different way was foreign and not even in my realm of possibilities.  I was so goal oriented that if the goal was not met there was only one way to see it…. I FAILED!  I did not meet my goal etc.

Eventually I started to realize that through my failures I learned so much.  Frequently there was one or 2 things that would be at the top of the list about why I FAILED.  Something forgotten, something overlooked, rushing through something, not paying attention to details, undeveloped skills, insufficient commitment, the reasons why can go on and on.  Whatever the reason was, I started to recognize that I had the option to continue to work towards my goal and when I was able to recognize why I did not succeed I could change how I approached the situation to get different results.  When I was willing to look at why I failed and persevere, I learned so much about how to improve my performance and I learned so much about myself and how I approached things and how I could improve in all of those areas.

So yes.  CELEBRATE YOUR FAILURES!  When you fail ask yourself what you can do better, how can you improve, what do you need to change?  Look at the plethora of things that you have learned through the process.  Acknowledge what new skills you may have gained by getting up.  Take the chance and make an effort take the opportunity to practice perseverance and commitment to the task.  Don’t allow failure to be the final outcome.  When you make the commitment to yourself to achieve your goal and you continually strive for that goal there is nothing that can stop you!