Have a little compassion, starting with you

Santa Clarita CA

The mind has a tendency to set very high standards, holding ourselves and others to perfectionistic expectations. The voice of the mind judges and evaluates our every thought and action. Activated by fear, this voice takes action when it senses danger. Our response might be to fight – criticize or belittle ourselves; to take flight – distract ourselves; to freeze – stay stuck and ruminate; or to submit – resign ourselves and end up feeling unworthy or ashamed.

Practicing self-compassion breaks the patterns of the harsh critic of our mind. By understanding what we want, recognizing our feelings, and letting go of self-judgment, we begin to move away from fear. Exercising such loving-kindness for ourselves, we are better able to offer it to others.

Consistently try one or all of these 3 mindful practices and note any shifts in your attention, awareness, and judgment.

Exploring What You Want

“We betray our true selves when we do not follow the heart’s desire, For what the heart is attracted to, is your destiny.” ~Leon Brown

 At least once a day, pause and explore one of these questions: “What do I want?” “What do I value?” “What is my heart’s desire?” You might start with the ‘stuff’ you want (a warm or cool room to sleep in, a meal of your favorite food) and then after getting used to considering what you want on this level, look underneath for insights into why these things are important to you (to treat yourself well, to celebrate an accomplishment).

Digging Underneath the Feeling

“Suffering is due to our disconnection with our inner soul.Meditation is establishing that connection. ~Amit Ray

Find a place where you can reflect for a few minutes. Remember a time when you felt very angry. Go back to that experience. Recall how you felt the anger in your body, and in your mind.

  1. What physical sensations did you experience? What thoughts were you having?
  2. What tender feeling might the anger might be hiding? What is not being seen, listened to, recognized, or loved?
  3. What would you tell a dear friend if they were feeling this? What words and tone would you share? What gestures would you display?

Letting Go of Self Judgment

“Our self judgement is the biggest barrier to our friendship…with ourselves.” ~Tsunyota Kohe’t

Next time you notice your inner critic at work, invite it to take a little break with you.

  1. Acknowledge the critic (e.g., “I notice that I am feeling inadequate.”).
  2. Accept the feeling (e.g., “Feeling insecure is a natural human response.”)
  3. Just sit with the feeling for 90 seconds, focusing on your breathing.
  4. Check in and see if see if there is some space for more choices about how you respond to the critic.

You might combine these practices with focused breathinggratitude practice, and mini-habits to understand better why mindfulness matters.

NOTE: This post was co-authored by Katiuscia Barretta and first appeared on the IBM Jobs Blog on June 2, 2016.

* I took the opening photo in Kruja, Albania.

Author: Vicki L Flaherty

I am most alive when I am creating, whether through writing, photography, gardening, cooking, crafting, sewing, yoga. I enjoy traveling because it opens me to greater awareness and new possibilities. I find a special joy when I’ve helped someone see their brilliance and express their full potential. As I've focused on living more mindfully, I've found special joy in expressing myself through poetry and photography, and in truly being in relationship with those I meet along my journey.

12 thoughts on “Have a little compassion, starting with you”

  1. Helpful content for a new year! In one of the courses I’m teaching for Cornell’s executive leadership program, we actually name our inner critic and draw a picture. Or find an image online, etc. The more real we make them, the less mysterious power they have. Realizing when and why they appear is so important – thanks for bringing it up.

    1. Maureen, I love that, drawing a picture and naming our inner critic. As part of the first mindfulness program I participated in many years ago, I named mine and wrote description of why she is important to me. It was cathartic to recognize her strengths – she is highly motivated to protect me (although she certainly lives in a world filled with far more fear than I find healthy – haha!) I think we’ve both talked to each other’s inner critic a few times. **SMILE**

    1. Shelly, I am so glad! Happy New Year – may your intentions lead you where you want to go. Looking forward to our catching up next month. PS Are you still writing a Wellfinity newsletter? I realize I am not longer getting it..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: