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.

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.

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!

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…

 

Make time for hot Chocolate!

I tend to get myself in situations where I am going and going and going!  When I begin a project, class, organization or job I tend to go full force.  I move so fast and get so much accomplished that I frequently find myself in a situation where I suddenly find I am hitting my head against a wall, exhausted, burnt out and finally realizing that I have not bothered to listen to my spirit or body to know what I am needing at the moment.

STOP!!!!!!  I have recently began a new practice.  I stop.  Genius isn’t it?  This is not very difficult or complicated and I am not sure why it took so long to figure out but it did.  I stop, every day.  I ask myself what I need.  Sometimes I need to meditate, do yoga, chat with a friend, play a mindless game on my phone, journal, blog…whatever.  I listen to what I need and I do it for at least 30 minutes.  It is amazing how useful this can be for me.  A simple 30 minutes of not tasking.  The interesting thing is that when I take that time to do what I need to do I end up being more productive with my tasks and I don’t end up in the burn out zone.

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When I got married my aunt gave me a blessing of “Make time for hot chocolate”.  My husband and I have been pretty good at practicing that in our relationship and during my last burn ou
t I realized that I do not do the same for myself.  So I thought I would share this with you.  Make time for hot chocolate.

It can be difficult to make time for self-care.  There are so many things that are waiting to be done, laundry, dishes, paying bills, cleaning, cooking, shopping, kids homework, sleep, exercise, write an e-mail, social media, mow the lawn, return a call…..  IS THE LIST EVER DONE!!!!?????  Sometimes we get in the mindset that self-care has to be some big grandiose event.  It does not.  Light a candle, sit for 5 minutes and have a cup of tea, take a bubble bath, breath, write a gratitude list, go for a walk, wear a special article of clothing, make a special “alter” in your home, paint your nails, go to bed early, write a poem. All these things can be self-care.  The important thing isn’t what you are doing but the intention with which you do it.

Build in time in your life where you do things for you.  Follow your passions, feed your soul a little bit every day.  There will always be time for the tasks we “have to” do and we will always have to make time for the things we want to do.  Give yourself the gift of relaxation and enjoyment.  There is not time like the present.  Make time for hot chocolate!

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.