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!

 

Look Within, that is where your wisdom is.

Lately I have noticed that all my blogs are intertwined.  I have written about making boundaries, loving yourself, healing the inner child, looking at cleaning up your side of the street among other things.  There is so much to write about these topics and so many perspectives from which to view them.   Today I again want to talk about looking within, but this time I want to talk to you about looking within in order to find your own wisdom.  Recently someone asked me if there were any books or YouTube videos I could recommend that would fix their issues and problems.  Nope, sorry, there are no simple fixes to healing.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many books, teachers and videos that can inspire you and spark a flame with in.  These things do not heal you.  You heal you.  My most influential teacher is Alisa Starkweather and going through her program Priestess Path (a women’s mystery school) has helped me grow into the person I am.  Through my interactions with her and going through the process of her program I was given the opportunity to learn tools and models to integrate into my healing.  She is an amazing facilitator but I had to do the healing.  I had to look at my beauty and my ugly, my present, past and future, my dishonesty and my shortcomings; only through doing this was I able to heal.

Yes, find a teacher, a life coach, a therapist, these people can help you process your healing, they can help point out healing that needs to take place.  Remember, when it comes down to it, it is only you who can heal you.

Make the choice – Decide you are ready to change your life.  Healing will change your perspective, change your story and
change your dynamics with yourself and others.  Making this choice means you no longer accept excuses from yourself, you let go of limiting thinking that hinders your progress and you take one step at a time towards your future.

Allow the fear and release it – Is this withinpicscary? YES!!!!!  Anytime we step out of our comfort zone it is scary.  This is the fear that stops us from healing and stops us from changing.  Remember there is always choice.  Take one step forward, take one step back and then take a step forward again.    Ask yourself, is it worth walking through this fear in order to get to your healing?  If it is worth it (I always think it is) then allow yourself to feel the fear and keep walking forward anyway.  After walking through your fear you find your truest self.

Be committed to your process – As I stated above you may take one step forward and one step back but keep stepping anyway.  There are times along the road where a lot of your issues get stirred up and you may find yourself acting out on behaviors that do not serve your greatest good, keep going.  All the gunk may be getting stirred up, this can serve to show you what needs to be cleaned up.  This is a sign you are heading in the right direction.

Own your stuff –   Ok, this can be a touchy area.  If you were abused, I am not saying to own that.  I am saying that it is up to you, to heal from the abuse.  Sometimes victims get stuck in the abuse paradigm, waiting for the abuser to heal you is not beneficial.  The abuser may make amends or go away but it is still your job to take care of yourself and give yourself the healing you deserve.

More owning your stuff – frequently because of our past we develop coping mechanisms and behaviors which are detrimental to ourselves and people in our lives.  Own your stuff, admit where you are wrong, look at changing behaviors in order to live a happier life.

Heal – This is where the real change comes.  Looking at your past, the reality of what has happened and how it has affected you is where you shift the things that are limiting you and holding you back.

I get that this is easier said than done.  I have cried countless tears though healing and there have been times where I have stopped dead in my tracks not wanting to take one more step forward on the journey.  Then I remember that I am responsible for my future and off I go again.  This is your path, your map and your choice.  As you go through your healing process and you look with in you will find that under all stuff that was needing healing your wisdom has been waiting there for you all along.   This is your journey, head in the direction of your wise one.

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.

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.

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

Put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you.

It can be so difficult to remember to take care of yourself when you are a healer or caregiver, yet these are the times when you need to pay close attention to your own needs.  Every time you take a flight the flight attendants are sure to go over all the safety rules, one of which is to be sure to put your own oxygen mask on first.  Why is it that we, so often, forget that idea when we get back to our real lives.

For me the first thing I need to remember is there will never be enough time to complete all the tasks that I need to complete or help all the people that are looking for my help.  Logically I know that I will need to take care of myself so I can show up fully to help the people I love. Yet I repeatedly put my own needs on the back burner and choose giving to others before giving to myself. I have recently adopted a new practice of sitting with myself for 30 minutes every afternoon.  I sit down and ask my body what it wants at that time.  Meditation? Breathing? Writing? Walking? Yoga?  This gives me the time to center and ground.  I get to have this specific period of time to just …BE. oxygen mask

So I have developed tools for myself that help me stay centered and full but that
doesn’t necessarily answer how to keep good boundaries energetically when being with others.  There are a few things I do to be sure that I am now taking care of others to my own detriment.  I have written other blogs about taking care of yourself, like “Saying Yes to Your No”  and 2 about setting boundaries starting with “Doormats and Dictators”   Read those blogs for information there but in addition to the tools I talk about there I stay clear with myself and others by practicing other tools also.

I have come to know that another person’s behavior is not my responsibility.   For as long as I live I will have people in my life that make choices that I would not choose.  That is not my responsibility.  Allowing others to live their lives and knowing that there is nothing I need to do about it is liberating to my energy.  It is not my job to fix or heal anyone.  I have spent a lot of time participating in workshops and programs with the purpose of healing and no matter what the facilitator did or did not do I had to make the choice every time if I was going to participate in  my healing or walk away the same person I was before.  Likewise no matter what I say or do I can not help someone else heal that does not want to heal and I do not know better than any individual what they need for their healing.

The difference between supporting and saving can be tricky.  It can be almost second nature to give advice when someone shares a problem with you.  Sometimes we think it is loving to try to help them solve their problem.  Maybe what the person really needs is just to be heard?  Maybe the person needs to be asked “what would work for you to solve this problem?”  I believe that every individual knows exactly what they need to heal themselves or solve their own problems.  When we have the opportunity to find our own answers we not only find our answer but we are empowered with our ability to heal our lives.  Recently, I was talking with a client about supporting not saving and through our conversation I realized that saving had some degree of controlling where supporting was more about allowing.  When I allow someone to be on their own path their actions do not affect me as much.  With the support and allowing it is not about the value of my suggestion which allows my ego to stay out of the way.

The last thing I need to know when I am “helping” someone is my motivation.  If I am helping someone with the purpose of increasing my sense of self-worth, I am not able to keep myself out of their outcome.  If I am helping someone to make myself look better then I will perceive the results  they achieve as a reflection of myself so my investment in their outcome cannot help but be co-dependent and detrimental to both of us.

So, remember to take care of you.  Set up useful practices that help you show up for others in ways that are meaningful for you.  Don’t forget Put on your oxygen mask first.