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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

Mindful Self-Compassion--What a Concept!

Dr. Zan’s Thoughts:

A recent realization caught me a bit off guard but was incredibly powerful for me: I spent the first half of of my life rigidly attached to the notion that being hard on myself was the way to become a better person. While I remain a believer in the value of high expectations, the manner in which I compelled myself to live up to my own expectations was best described as harsh. My internal demeanor was impatient, demanding, and unforgiving when I made mistakes. The willingness to chastise myself for performing and being “less than” was ever present and persistent. Now, I would like to think that my discontent with my own personal ability to achieve was just that -- personal. However, can we ever fully detach our treatment of ourselves from the manner in which we respond to others? I suspect not and must own that my harshness with myself likely spilled over to a lack of grace with my loved ones far more than I would prefer.

When I discovered Mindful Self-Compassion, quite by accident, I learned that my ongoing personal battle with feeling that I was “never enough,” is actually a very common human experience. In other words, my self-doubt and efforts to manage it did not make me special; they just spoke to my shared humanity. My feelings, rather than leading to greater isolation and shame, could actually connect me to others, if only I would be willing to own and admit to my shortcomings--which are not tragic, just human. What a great way to not be special!

You see, I discovered Mindful Self-Compassion while doing research to debunk our continued and misguided efforts to raise self-esteem among youngsters. Rather than raising children to feel they need to be special, remarkable, better than--as we have in education and parenting since the 80’s--we can help them to embrace their own humanity and that of others. We can teach them to be kind to themselves when they fail and to expect that they will--hopefully again and again as they courageously try that which is just beyond their current reach. They can stay present in a moment that is awkward and uncomfortable and disappointing but know the power of self-soothing and support. These are the lessons that I want to teach to children because they are the powerful lessons that I have been learning for myself. They would have been helpful to know sooner, but I am grateful to have them now.

If you are intrigued by Mindful Self-Compassion, please enjoy this article:

Now I am honored to share with other adults who want to live with greater compassion in my local area starting tomorrow evening. By starting with the adults, we can ensure that children have more compassionate role models whom they can emulate. There really is a kinder, gentler way, and what a beautiful adventure it offers!

Dr. Nadine’s Reflections:

I’m on a voyage of self-discovery.  I’m on personal safari – the Swahili word for “journey”.  I happen to be writing this on a Sunday afternoon, a day that I’ve claimed for my own.  It’s one of the few days in the week that I can grab some time for reflection and introspection.  It’s the time I’ve designated for myself, to think about what’s going on in my world - what happened over the last few days at work, reviewing the conversation over dinner with a dear friend, how I felt about my week in general…  I’m also thinking forward toward the busy week that lies ahead. I’m prioritizing everything on my schedule, deciding what needs to get done first, what’s important, and what’s pressing (two related but different demands).

When confronted with the stacked tasks I am carrying, I find myself slipping into an exaggerated sense of duty.  I imagine myself to be a necessary and critical part of all that needs to be done at my office - inflating my obligations, and unnecessarily assuming various jobs that really could be delegated.  Simultaneously, I’m desirous of wanting more time to spend with my friends and Dear One, all the while wondering if indeed I can accomplish everything and do it adequately.

This is where mindfulness and mindful self-compassion intersect my process.  They are the valuable tools that help me cope with the conundrum of the many responsibilities that seem to constantly pile up.  Without mindful intervention, those commitments eventually become burdens. But when I slow down, stop, and begin to mindfully consider what I’m doing, the anxiety of “[living] up to my own expectations”, as Dr. Zan describes, melts away.  Instead, it’s replaced with a relieved confidence in myself. I develop a more realistic and satisfactory perspective on what lies ahead.

Even as I’m describing this to you, I’m employing self-compassion as I realize I’m not the only one who does this.  How many of you have found yourself doing the same thing as I—worrying about not doing enough, not being enough, not thinking enough, not being aware enough…  You get the idea! I’m writing to you as another imperfect human who is offering to herself the same kindness I’d offer you, if you were telling me the same thing.

So check out the article referenced by Dr. Zan.  It’s a clear and loving description of how we can enhance our lives.  As the article describes, “…Drs. Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer share how self-kindness, recognition of our humanity, and mindfulness give us the strength to thrive.”

“Sharing is caring”, so share your humanity, your kindness and your compassion.  And THRIVE!

#trueheightsconsulting #mindfulself-compassion

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