1

Self Compassion & Self Love

Another great post by Elizabeth Gilbert. This time about self care, self compassion and self love. (I so wish I could write like her!).

Be gentle with yourself today, take the time to stop and smell the roses. Often we spend our whole lives pushing ourselves and stressing ourselves.  I tried to ‘push’ myself to heal and figured out the hard way that it doesn’t work like that. It takes all the time it needs.

I am now kind and gentle on myself and take my life one day at a time. I ‘go with the flow’.. and do what I need for myself on any given day whether it’s a warm bath, a walk, a lay down in the sun.. I also do what I love and what feeds my soul every day. And from this I find I am less stressed and more available, kind and compassionate to others.

Slow down today and be kind and compassionate to yourself.

Love & baby steps.

SG x

Elizabeth Gilbert's photo.

By Elizabeth Gilbert

Dear Ones –

A life has been entrusted to you. That life is your own. Please treat it with tenderness.

Whether you think that your life was given to you by God, or whether you think that your life was given to you by random accident, it doesn’t really matter. One way or another, the end result is the same: you are here now, and you have been given stewardship over one fragile human existence.

I think we forget this sometimes — that we have been entrusted with a life to protect, and that this life is our own…and that we should be gentle and respectful of valuable things that are entrusted into our care.

When we forget that truth, we treat ourselves horribly

You know what I mean, right? It not just me who does this…it’s all of us.

We are simply terrible to ourselves sometimes. We say awful things about ourselves. We punish our bodies. We put ourselves into dreadful circumstances, and then refuse to leave. We inflict miseries upon ourselves that we would never inflict on another person or animal. We allow ourselves to be abused, or sometimes we practice ritualistic self-abuse. We force ourselves to work until we almost collapse from exhaustion. We deny ourselves sleep and care and healthy food and sunlight. We sabotage our good opportunities, and keep returning to our most harmful behaviors and addictions. We refuse ourselves pleasures, believing that we are unworthy of peace or contentment. We surround ourselves with things and people that are unhealthy and demeaning. We never forgive ourselves for our frailties and fears and mistakes. We fill our minds with shameful words — about how disgraceful we are, how pathetic, how lazy, how stupid, how fat, how ugly, what a failure, what an idiot, what a loser, what a coward, and why can’t you get it together?

Here is my question: Why would you treat any life so terribly, if that life had been entrusted into your care?

Imagine this: Imagine adopting an animal from the rescue shelter, and then treating it as dreadfully as you sometimes treat yourself. Imagine calling that poor animal names. Imagine forcing it to stay in dangerous, toxic, or degrading situations. Imagine starving it, or cutting it, or making it binge eat and then forcing it to vomit. Imagine refusing to take it outside to see the sun. Denying it sleep or healthy exercise. Forcing it to consume substances that damage its health horribly. Putting it in the company of abusive people, who insult and degrade it. Working it half to death. Blaming it for everything. Yelling at it. Forgiving it for nothing. Denying it grace and love.

You would never. I know you. You would never do this to another life form. And yet you do it to yourself.

Sometimes, when I catch myself feeling unloveable or self-abusing, I try to imagine that I am an animal, adopted from the humane society, who has been placed into my own care. Maybe an animal that some bad things have happened to. Maybe an animal that is anxious and confused. Maybe an animal that has been wounded. Maybe an animal that is lost.

What does that animal need and deserve? Healthy food, a warm place to sleep, a safe place of shelter, tender affections, plenty of walks in the sunshine. Kindness. Tenderness. Patience.

Simple care.

Can you try to see yourself as an animal in need of rescue? And can you offer yourself that rescue? Can you try to see that you, too, are a simple mammal, born innocent, deserving of tenderness, needful of love, fearful of pain? Can you reach out to yourself with gentleness — as if you were that cat or dog who had been caged for far too long?

I know that you are all good people, trying hard to become better people. We all are good people over here. Maybe some bad shit has happened to you. And almost certainly, you have done some bad shit yourself (who hasn’t?) but you wouldn’t be visiting this page with the rest of us every day if you were not essentially a good person, trying hard to be a better person. I know what you long for: You want to bring deeper compassion to this troubled world. You want to be more kind, more generous, more trustworthy, wholehearted. You want to be nice and fair and warm to people.

And yet, still you believe you are entitled to abuse yourself — this one life form that is nearest to you, this only life that you can save with your own two hands.

If you say to me, “But it’s so much easier to love a defenseless animal than it is to love a human being,” then I will say to you: “Don’t forget that every human being was born a defenseless animal. Even you.”

If you say to me, “But it’s so much easier to love others than it is to love myself,” then I will say to you: “What do you think you are, if not one of us — if not one of the ‘others’? Why do you hold yourself separate from the rest of the world, as if you are an exceptional case? Is it because you think you are worse than the rest of us? Is it because you think you are better?”

We are all alike here. None of us are born worse or better than the others. In essence, we are all exactly the same. You are exactly like me, and I am exactly like you, and both of us are exactly like every stranger on the street. I am, as the Talking Heads once sang, “just an animal, looking for a home.” So are you. So is everyone. Nothing less, nothing more.

Can you become a safe home for yourself? Can you give your poor inner animal some loving care?

You want to practice goodness. Well, conveniently, there is somebody with you 24 hours a day, upon whom you can begin to practice your goodness and your kindness and your compassion — and that person is yourself.

Be kind to you, then. Put down the knife that you have been holding to your own throat. Stop beating up upon the poor animal that you are. Take the chains off. Open the door of the cage you’ve been forcing yourself to live in. Bring yourself out of the cold. Allow yourself the comfort of the warm blanket at the end of the couch. Protect yourself from those who injure you — yourself, most of all. The punishment ends today. Coax yourself forward, and say to the life that you have been entrusted with: “It’s OK. I’m here now. I will take care of you now. I’m sorry if I ever hurt you. I didn’t know that you were just a defenseless animal, deserving of care. Now I do know.”

You have to learn to speak to yourself with fundamental kindness, because SOMEBODY HAS TO. Even if you are lucky enough have people in your life who are kind to you, that is not quite enough. You must also practice self-kindness. Because other people’s love and sweetness is not enough to save the troubled and anxious animal who lives within you. Because nobody else (except you) can reach down into your heart as deep as it goes, and offer it the specific tenderness it most needs.

As the writer and editor Sahaj Kohli once wrote: “The fact that someone else loves you doesn’t rescue you from the project of loving yourself.”

You can do this. Please believe me. You can take on this project — the project of learning how to love your poor, tired self. But you can only do it if you can learn see yourself as worthy of love — just like the rest of us. Like the poor, tired, born-innocent animal that you are.

And slowly — as it learns that it can trust you — the animal that you are will grow stronger, more confident, more loving. Then it will teach you how to truly love others, and how to be loved by others. Because you cannot offer wholehearted love to the world if you do not also practice it on yourself.

I believe this, more than anything. You must learn how to be kind to yourself. You can learn this — I am certain of it.

Because the guardians of the universe would not have put such a fragile and precious life in your hands, if they did not think that you could eventually be trusted to care for it with infinite tenderness.

Be good to you.

ONWARD,
LG

1

Increasing Self-Compassion in PTSD

Countering Negative Beliefs and Thoughts about the Self

A lack of self-compassion can have a huge impact on recovery from PTSD. A lack of self-compassion may decrease motivation to continue through those difficult moments in treatment.

 It may increase feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. For example, a person might think, “I am a failure, so what is the point with continuing with treatment?” A lack of self-compassion can also bring about strong feelings of shame and guilt, which can make emotions even more difficult to manage. Finally, low self-compassion may lead to self-destructive behaviors. For example, a person might begin to engage in deliberate self-harmas a form of self-punishment.

Self-compassion can be difficult to increase; however, it is very important to do so. Below are some strategies for fostering a stronger sense of self-compassion.

Recognize That You Are Human

First, remember that you are human. Oftentimes people will set very high expectations that cannot be met. For example, a person with PTSD may have in their mind a timeline for when their symptoms should be eliminated through treatment. Different people progress through treatment at different paces. Some people notice immediate gains, whereas others may take a little more time to notice benefits from treatment.

Setting very high standards or expectations increases the likelihood that you are not going to meet those expectations, which can increase feelings of worthlessness, helpless, hopelessness, and failure. Recognize that you are human and that there are going to be times when you struggle or slip. This is normal and actually a positive part of the process of recovery. Those moments of struggle can help you identify areas you need to continue to work on, as well as help you identify additional coping strategies to prevent similar struggles in the future.

Be Mindful of Negative Self-Focused Thoughts

Just because you have a negative self-focused thought does not mean it is true. Our thoughts are largely the result of habit. We cannot always trust our thoughts, and this is especially the case for negative thoughts about the self. Such thoughts generally only result in more shame and guilt.

Mindfulness can be a very useful strategy for managing negative thoughts. Being mindful of thoughts helps you take a step back from your thoughts, not connecting with them or buying into them as truth. This will decrease their intensity and eventually decrease the frequency with which they occur.

Practice Self-Care

When people feel low self-compassion, they are at greater risk for engaging in self-destructive behaviors or isolating. When you are experiencing low self-compassion, it is very important to act in a way that is counter to that low self-compassion. Remember, even if we cannot always control our thoughts or feelings, one thing that we can always have some level of control over is our behavior and the choices we make. Therefore, when you are feeling worthless, act in a way that is opposite to that feeling. Basically, engage in some kind of self-care activity. Do something nice for yourself and your body.

Self-care may be a difficult thing to do if you are having very strong negative thoughts or feelings; however, even a small self-care activity can prevent these thoughts and feelings from taking hold. Acting as though you care about yourself can eventually bring about actual feelings and thoughts of self-compassion.

Validate Your Emotions

Another way to increase self-compassion is to validate your emotions. We don’t experience emotions randomly. They are there for a reason. Emotions are our body’s way of communicating with us. When we beat ourselves up for having certain emotions, all we do isincrease our emotional distress. Therefore, recognize that your emotions are important and reasonable. Try to listen to what your emotions are telling you and realize that it is okay to have those emotions.

Reduce Self-Destructive Behaviors

A lack of self-compassion can lead to self-destructive behaviors, such as deliberate self-harm, eating disordered behaviors (for example, binging and restricting), or substance use. These behaviors may be used as a form of self-punishment. In addition, although they may initially reduce feelings of distress, in the long-term they only reinforce a sense of shame, worthlessness, or helplessness. Therefore, it is important to take steps to reduce these behaviors. Strategies focused on impulse control may be particularly useful in this regard.

Practice Acts of Altruism

If you are feeling like there is nothing you can do to help yourself, then make the choice to help others. Acting with compassion towards others can improve your own self-compassion. In addition, there is some evidence that helping others can facilitate recovery from a traumatic event. Helping others (for example, volunteering) can improve your mood, provide a sense of accomplishment and agency, and bring about a sense of worth.

Recognize Your Accomplishments

Finally, recognize what you have accomplished. It is especially important to recognize accomplishments you have made despite the experience of PTSD symptoms. Make note of difficult tasks you have accomplished or challenging situations you have successfully navigated. Recognize accomplishments both big and small. We often brush aside small accomplishments; however, no accomplishment is too small when you have PTSD. Give yourself credit for showing strength and perseverance despite dealing with a PTSD diagnosis.

Self-compassion is very important in recovering from PTSD. However, it is also a very difficult thing to foster. Try out all of the strategies above and discover which combination of activities and behaviors work best for you. Progress may be slow, but even a small amount of self-compassion can have a tremendous impact on your mental and emotional health.

5

‘How Can Anyone Love Me With All My Issues?’

By Christine White

“You Left an Empty Shell of Me” by Michele Lea

That’s the question I asked.

It’s the mold that grew on my moist heart and kept me from opening myself up. It’s what I worried about in my early 20s and why I avoided dating.

I didn’t believe I could be me, who required a flow chart and three hours to explain my family or origin “situation” and who also had anxiety at times. I couldn’t think of me and the words catch, find, desirable or chosen in the same lifetime, never mind the same sentence.

Honest and alone, or fake with a companion? I didn’t like either choice but they were the only choices I thought existed.

I’m not telling people I have mentally ill, alcoholic father, complex relationships with some of my family, difficulty with some sexual positions and am a little sensitive to too much drinking. No way.

This may not be a surprise but my beliefs weren’t all that great for my relationships.

I wish someone had said to me: “The question isn’t if anyone can love your damaged self, it’s whether you can accept and love yourself unconditionally.”

The truth was I didn’t like, love or believe in me.

I didn’t accept my history. I wasn’t loving with myself. I had no compassion for my anxiety. If didn’t like or love myself, how could others love me?

I was hoping to find someone who could love me better than I did.

I saw my complications as only baggage, terrible and negative. I saw what I came with as debris, burdens and contagious toxins and that it would be dangerous for others to get close to me. What, that’s not sexy? That’s not attractive, compelling or appealing?

I get it now, but I didn’t when I was younger.

Now I see that I am a warrior, resilient and sort of spellbinding at times. I navigated obstacle courses that required getting on all fours, muddy, messy and fighting like hell. And I did—while going to school, working and helping take care of others too.

Those are some worthwhile traits and experiences—assets even—not something I needed to apologize for.

But there was one person who didn’t know or trust or believe that: me.

Without me as an ally I didn’t have a chance, and I didn’t clue into this for a long time. Instead, I compared myself to others who were living different lives, who had different paths and histories. Of course we weren’t the same.

I could only see where I fell short, and how I didn’t compare. I judged myself for failing to have as much as joy or spontaneity without seeing that I also had more depth and responsibility.

I was taking care of my Nana who was sick with ovarian cancer. I was battling post-traumatic stress and learning way too much about loss, going to too many funerals in my early 20s. Then, my sister bumped into the biological father we hadn’t seen since we were toddlers.

It was a lot. It wasn’t odd that I had anxiety, it was pretty remarkable that I kept it together as well as I did.

My early 20s weren’t spent happy, carefree or wild. But they weren’t wasted. They were meaningful, deep and important.

I spent more time with grandmother than many get to in a lifetime. I got to do fingerpaints with my cousin and drink iced coffee and plant flowers with my aunt. I learned about loss and grief and how to prioritize, juggle jobs, school and my budget.

I learned to practice resilience, self-reliance, and learned how much I needed friends, creativity, and a healing tribe. I’ve never run out of material to write about and doubt I ever will. My experiences from childhood on shaped my life and still do.

I was able to create a life with animals, flowers, loved ones, writing, family and a small cottage near the ocean that is more often than not charming, loving and inspiring. I learned to be a parent that I am proud of—not perfect, but good enough and that’s a victory. I got to experience the joy of mothering and I’m grateful.

I’m able to take care of my own child, self, house and budget. I can drive myself to the airport and light my pilot when it goes out. I feel sexually, professionally and financially free, creative and empowered at midlife. And I eat pretty well and do yoga.

Actually I’m sort of amazing.

The question never was how can anyone love me and all my baggage?

The question is: why did I doubt myself? The question is: how come I failed to be my own ally?

Wondering how someone can love a pathetic me with too many bags and issues isn’t helpful. With the exact same life I might have asked, who is better than me at packing, dreaming, traveling and helping others do the same?

Really, the question never was, how can someone love me, but why did I expect them to love me when I did not?

I hope you learn to love yourself faster than I did. You don’t have to do anything to be lovable and no matter the past, you need not prove yourself worthy. You are already lovable.

If you aren’t sure, just practice knowing how someone could love you by loving yourself. Or, as my daughter says, find a way to “deal with your awesomeness…. bam!”

How will anyone you love ever be able to get over you?

That’s the question.

Christine  By 

2

Hey Beautiful, You Deserve Love

Self-compassion, self-love, self-acceptance

The majority of people who read my blog have been wounded in some form or another (neglect, trauma, sexual, emotional/ psychological or physical abuse). All abuse is equal and damaging no matter what its form.

Often the trauma or abuse originated in early childhood (even if you can’t remember any serious abuse from your immediate family  – remember you can’t consciously remember what happened to you or who hurt you when you were very little) … and often very traumatic events are stored differently (very deeply) as a survival mechanism.

I found out at 45 that there were huge secrets in my family. I got regressed after years of chronic ill health and depression and finally answers came up that made sense.

I had always wondered why I was ‘different’.. why I suffered from childhood depression, why I was a little ‘space cadet’ (dissociative) and why I was so creative and intuitive (hyervigilant) and not particularly logical. Life had been extremely hard.

Early childhood abuse sets us up… it sets us up for more abuse throughout our lives. It sets us up for choosing unhealthy partners and friends and it is the major cause of mental illness. It’s also causes unhealthy coping mechanisms and addictions.

Today I have a message for those of you healing from abuse, trauma, neglect and the extreme stress and mental illness associated..

Be kind to yourself, because you are amazing

Be gentle on yourself where others haven’t been – because you are an exquisite soul

Accept yourself.. whether you are creative, shy, anxious, lonely….  a cutter, an overeater, an alcoholic, an anorexic…

Acknowledge your pain and emotions. It is not a sign of strength to repress your feelings.

Love yourself first, every inch of you because you deserve love (your own first) and love that doesn’t hurt.

 Remember you have been through enough stress and pain in your life, don’t add to it – No more unloving thoughts directed at yourself.

Accept this present moment – you are doing the best you can healing in a process that takes time, baby steps and courage. You deserve kudos and respect – your own first.

Don’t push yourself, rest if you need to, cry if you need to, create an environment that works for you, write your heart out if you need to, soothe your soul if you need to..

Just remember the exquisite soul you are and treat yourself accordingly.

Just. Pure. Lovely.

SG x

0

The Shame Game

Are you playing the shame game.. ?

Keeping secrets, hiding a drug problem or disguising alcohol abuse are all warning signs that you could be.

Feeling embarrassed, guilty or remorseful will ensure you keep playing.

the hair, the dress... #illustration #painting #drawing

The Negativity of Shame

Shame can impact every aspect of your life so it’s important to know how to recognize it. Research professor Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, says, “Women often experience shame when they are entangled in a web of layered, conflicting and competing social-community expectations. Shame creates feelings of fear, blame and disconnection.”

It’s easy then to see why shame is particularly prevalent in psychological disorders or drug and alcohol abuse. The internalized feelings of blame, guilt and fear promote the destructive spiral that takes a regular behavior and transforms it into an addiction. Similarly, shame goes hand in hand with denial, a defense mechanism that enables an individual to avoid the reality of a situation. This in turn prevents them from seeking the help they need.

Continue reading