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compassion

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The perspective we take. The choices we make.

Have you ever had that clarity between taking things the wrong way or letting things go? And you still choose the “wrong way” aka. Taking things personally, holding a grudge, getting aggressive, and simmering in anger….

In case none of this resonates let me give you a great example. My mother in law a sweet, petite, quirky, 67 year old lady with who I have a great relationship with (most of the time). Came to help us cat sit a couple weeks ago while we were traveling to Iceland (in our defense our cat is like 100 years old and needs the high maintenance treatment) she arrived a week early to be with us. My OBGYN should have warned me that hormones don’t mix well with having people stay in my house (it’s truly more death threatening then raw fish in my humble opinion)

One afternoon she started asking me about how I wanted to decorate the baby nursery. As I began to describe the colors and how I wanted to avoid everything that is extremely pink or girlish she looked at me horrified and said “Nooo, nooo. You can’t do that” it took me about a second to look at her with daggers from my eyes and say “I can do whatever I want”. You might be thinking- “wasn’t that bad” or “wish I could say something like that” the thing was not what I said but how angry I felt. That was the beginning of feeling irritated over every comment she made, the way my house smelled with her perfume, how my kitchen cabinet was disorganized, how she was using my Chef knives to cut strawberries over a napkin. I was on an edge ready to push somebody (her) off.

This is not the first time I’ve felt this edge. It’s usually the people closest to us that walk on our internal minefields. That trigger us beyond everything we could have ever imagined and when we think we are past it. When we think we have done the internal work, call it therapy, meditation, yoga… we are shown with a highlighter exactly where it is that we are stuck.

One of life mantras is Maya Angelou’s quote “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better do better” In so many ways I know better and yet I keep slipping on the same banana peel, keep getting upset at the same people for the same reason. Have you ever had this experience?

My Grandmothers Sister who I have a close relationship with once said to me “Get to know people really well and then learn” What I find the most interesting about this advice is that we don’t need to get to know the other people better. We need to get to know ourselves better. What triggers us? Why? What can we do once we are triggered? There is a Lojong slogan that says “Don’t figure others out” It stops us from trying to assess the other person, from trying to label them and point fingers and instead we get to work with ourselves.

You must be thinking “how do we work with ourselves. HOW?” at least that’s what I’ve been thinking.

Step One- Compassion the voice that says “Hey Sweetie. It’s ok. You are going to be ok. Just breathe. Feel your heart expand as you inhale and exhale. I’ve got you” It doesn’t say do better or stop feeling angry. It says “I love you. It’s ok”. 

Step Two- Perspective by looking at the same thing from another angle. Usually the most helpful angle is to look at it from as far away as you can. Like pulling away in Google Maps from the house, to the street, to the neighborhood, the city and finally the country. It doesn’t really matter the angle as long as it allows you to feel a little bit better internally. A good dose of gratitude, long walks or talking to somebody that makes you feel grounded can really help shift your perspective.

Step Three- Allowing yourself to be angry. We have this idea of how we should feel and what type of people we should be and that standard just gets in the way. Maybe we can start to label how we feel and avoid judging it and stop trying to change it. Maybe we are being triggered exactly where we need to be triggered and all we need to do is give it some space.

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How to deal with $%^&@

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How to deal with $%^&@

We all have one or several people in our life’s we wish we didn’t have to deal with. In some cases it’s our father in others it’s our boss, mother in law, or neighbor. Whatever the case may be, no matter how much you want to run or push them away they keep coming back. It’s like playing a video game and constantly loosing against the same “bad guy” and when you think you can skip the level you just find him again maybe dressed differently (I haven’t played a video game since Mario, so this is the best I’ve got for you)

Our reactions are usually that of an angry teenager, we get pissed, scream, curse, close the bedroom door and put on music. Most of us do it in our head, unfortunately others do it out loud. Whatever the case may be we need soften our hearts enough to change how we relate and react so that they no longer seem like the enemy but our teachers. We have been given the “opportunity” (I’m adding quotes because we barely see them as opportunities) to grow or as the Tibetan tradition calls it to “awaken”.

So here are a few practices to deal.

-          Pull yourself out of the story. You know how it’s so much easier to give friends advice on what to do? That’s because you are not as consumed with their stories. Try doing this for your own issues. 

-          Practice compassion. We are all going through something maybe its loneliness, depression, an abusive relationship, a really shitty day, whatever may be when we see people with an open heart so we can meet them with what they need.

I once heard a story of a teacher that sent a girl on detention, when the father heard the news he came into the classroom and started screaming and threatening the teacher. The habitual response from the teacher would be to throw him out or call security instead he sat there listening and when he finished screaming the teacher said “I see that you love your daughter” the father started crying. The teacher was able to do this because he saw passed his story and his ego instead he was able to connect with what the father need it.

-          Face the same way- This is more of a somatic practice but when interacting with challenging people don’t sit in front of them, sit beside them looking towards the same direction. This eases the physical tension and allows you to focus on a common ground. 

Start this practices small with things that don’t bother you as much, maybe while driving…. Compassion is not born overnight and it’s a muscle that serves us for life.

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4 ways to Love Yourself without saying it in the mirror.

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4 ways to Love Yourself without saying it in the mirror.

If I could give one piece advice to my younger self it would be to love myself more. To skip the abusive relationships, the shitty friendships, to enjoy the body I live in, to drink less, to stress less, too spend more time outside my mind.  

When I started to feel self-love I kept asking myself “Why didn’t anybody tell me about this?” It felt like grabbing an iPhone for the first time after owning a flip phone, pretty life changing. Because it is life changing to love yourself.

Fortunately today I feel blessed to be working with women helping them with this piece of the equation. It truly feels like my karmic duty. I’ve considered printing some “love yo self” t-shirt and handing them out in high schools…..trying to make a point.

But here is the question- How do you love yourself more? 

Because the idea of saying “I LOVE MYSELF” in the mirror can get a bit cheesy. Here are some of the exercises I use for my clients and myself-

1.       Sit with it. With your eyes closed find the emotions and thoughts in your body and create space for them to be, but no longer dictate the way you approach life.

2.       Write- Journal as much as you can. Read what you are saying to yourself and then review the thoughts and voices with compassion.  

3.       Breathe/Meditate. Meditate and if that word scares you, breathe. I’m planning on making some breathing videos just because I find this tool super powerful.

4.       Question- One of my favorite things to do when feeling self-doubt is asking myself “What’s the most loving and kind thing I can do for myself right now?” This question shapes what I eat, how I exercises and how I show up in life.

What ways do you “love yourself more” or teach your kids to love themselves more?

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