Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “forgiveness”

Practicing Self Compassion…

There is a reason they call it a “practice”!!!

I may have mentioned before that I am participating in Leo Babauta’s Sea Change Program, where ever month there is a small behavior change that you commit to incorporating into your life. For the month of May, this tiny habit that we are attempting to incorporate is self compassion. Seems like an easy enough endeavor… but I’m here to tell ya… it’s trickier than you might at first imagine!

What I’ve noticed is that, despite my initial compassionate, loving words to myself, I immediately follow said compassion with a smidge of negative chatter that is like adding a “yeah, but” to my attempts at self-healing. I yelled (spoke sternly is probably more accurate, but it might as well have been yelling with the tone and the eye rolling that accompanied) at my son the entire drive to school this morning. I was very irritated because he made me re-tie his shoes 3 times due to the laces not being the correct amount of “tight.” I was explaining (do you like how I’ve relabeled the yelling to explaining now?!) how he needs to take responsibility for being on time to school and that, at the ripe old age of 9, he really shouldn’t need me to be tying his shoes… let alone insisting that I retie his shoes numerous times in one morning.

When I finally dropped him at school, he slammed the door and never looked back. I can only imagine what was going through his head. I’m pretty sure it was not along the lines of, “thank goodness I have such a great Mom who helps me understand the error of my ways.” In the great irony of a good day, I realize that the very thing I told my son he needed to do, which was to take responsibility for himself (from my viewpoint, this meant getting out the door on time), he was actually doing (from his viewpoint, making sure that his shoes were tied in a way that worked for him). Funny… that whole irony thing.

Anyway… back to self compassion. After a bit of verbal self-abuse, I did manage to remember the habit for the month. I congratulated myself for having the presence of mind to remember that beating myself up over the events of the morning was not actually going to rewrite the events of the morning for the better. Instead, I took a moment to acknowledge how difficult it is to be a Mom who is trying to balance consciousness and reality! I am, in fact, very thankful for this month’s sea change habit of self compassion. I think it is an easily overlooked habit that can have the potential to hugely impact our lives for the better. After spending numerous moments today offering myself compassion, I have to say that it feels pretty good to be loved… even if, and maybe especially if, it is by my very own self.

Wishing you gobs of love and self compassion!    ~Rashel

What’s Your Story?

We all have stories. Stories are what we believe to be true and what we tell others about our lives. Rumi says… “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” I find it interesting that he does not say, “unfold your own story,” or even, “unfold your own truth,” but “unfold your own myth.”

I was listening to an NPR podcast the other day and they were interviewing Tony Robbins. He mentioned something about stories that really struck me. He revealed that he was beaten as a child. Apparently he shared that truth with some kids when he was doing a talk in order that they might relate to him… to understand that even if you have a troubled youth, you can still turn your life around. The point he was making on the podcast was that he had consciously chosen not to perpetuate that story… that he worked hard to create a new story that he had shared with the world. Until that time, and only for the very specific purpose of relating to those kids, he had chosen not to share that story of himself and his life and to share and communicate a new story… one of empowerment and strength rather than victim hood and struggle.

Sometimes I think we get very caught up in what’s “true.” Reality, if you will. But what that realization illuminated for me is that we can choose to focus on other parts of our lives that are just as true and real without perpetuating the parts of our story that do not foster our own growth and development as a human being. Now, I am not advocating for a life of lies. I am not implying that everyone should wake up tomorrow pretending that their past is non-existent and acting as if the sky is green. I’m simply saying that we all have choices. Choice about what to share… what to focus on.. what to pay attention to on a daily basis. In any given day, there are as many, if not more, positive occurrences as negative… so why in the world do we feel so inclined, when asked how we’re doing, to list the 2-5 things that have gone wrong in the day? I know it’s not just me who does this because I walk around hearing of everyone’s issues on a regular basis. I’m not complaining, mind you… I’m just recognizing that we are very much hard-wired to focus on our negative story instead of perpetuating the positive aspects of our day and lives. I’d say we can’t help it… but that might be seen as taking on a bit of victim mentality, no?

What is your story? How do you feel when you tell your story? Does your story focus on the amazing, wonderful events that have shaped your life… or does you get caught up in the negative, difficult details? Do share your story!

Love and light!  ~Rashel

Acceptance in Action

I often think about acceptance. I really believe this is a misunderstood concept. I know I’ve blogged about acceptance before… the importance of it… the value in it… how hard it can be to master! It came up for me again the other day. I was half-way through a yoga class and began to notice my own self judgment. In a room full of yogi’s in training and full length mirrors… ones mind does tend to wander toward comparison. How in the world is that girl getting her arm to go straight up right now? Am I the only one in the room using blocks today? Why is this still so challenging after years of yoga classes?

What came up for me is how natural it is to think that judgment and criticism will lead to change. Why else would we do it? If I honestly believed that all of the negative self chatter would keep me stuck… would I really continue it time after time? I think there is a part of us that believes if we truly accept… if we let go of self judgment and criticism… that we will sink into a state of laziness, carelessness or general malaise. And on this point, I think we’re wrong.

I took some time to practice acceptance right there in that yoga studio What would it feel like to honor my achy knee… my tight shoulders… my protruding belly? Could I allow myself to be fully present in that moment? Appreciating the act of showing up on the mat… despite being exhausted and sporting a to-do list a mile long. Could I invoke a paradigm shift in that moment… moving from a place of self denigration to self acceptance? And more importantly, if I did… what would it mean for my commitment to yoga… to exercising… to my general health?

You see, I think the issue with acceptance is that we think it’s not possible to both accept and act. I would like to argue that it is. I realized as I stood in that yoga class, hand on block, reaching ever so fervently toward the sky, that accepting my limitations in that moment did not make me want to quit. Actually, if anything, I felt free. Free to just be… to exist in that moment without shame or judgment.

It felt good. And while I’d like to say it transferred immediately and directly to all areas of my life… alas… it has proven to be akin to many other transformational experiences I’ve had… profound and difficult to consistently implement! But it has made me think twice about how we encourage change… in both ourselves and others. If acceptance and change can successfully go hand-in-hand… perhaps we can do away with judgment and criticism altogether, no? It might not come easy, but I believe it’s worth the effort to give it a try. For ourselves… and those we interact with every day!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

 

All or Nothing

Why is it that we are so compelled to all-or-nothing mentality? I get that maybe there are times when we need to draw a hard-line and take a stance on something… but in general… through most of the decisions in life… I just don’t think the all or nothing approach is very helpful. In fact, I think that most of the time, it gets in the way.

This morning is a small, but no less valid, example. My family and I had a busy weekend. Of course, Monday morning rolls around with a bang. I wake up a little late… it’s 7:10am. I think to myself – this is not going to be a fun morning. I’m going to have to rouse my children out of bed and nag, yell, pester them continuously in order to get out the door in time for school. In hindsight, I’m thinking I could have easily woken the children and told them we were running a bit late. Instead of stressing out, I could have allowed them a little extra time, and we could have arrived at school shortly after the bell rang. Here’s where the all-or-nothing part comes in. Instead, I rolled over and went back to sleep. I guess on some level of consciousness, my mind said, “If we can’t be on time, why bother getting up?”

After arriving an hour late to drop the kids at school, and having to admit to the secretary that the reason we were late was that we “slept in”… I started thinking about this all-or-nothing attitude. It’s not the first time this type of thinking has not been helpful. Of course, the more common areas where all-or-nothing thinking gets us in trouble is food and exercise. “Well, if I’m going to have a bite of ice cream, I might as well have that whole carton!” “I don’t really feel like going to the gym… so I might as well sleep all day long!” Why is it that doing some portion… eating a few bites (which is probably all we really need to feel satisfied) or walking for 10 minutes, if that’s really what we’re feeling up to at the time… feels like failure and becomes not even worth it? When did that happen? And why does it persist?

Perhaps it gets at a very core belief that many of us have that we are not enough. That what we contribute, if it’s not the ultimate extreme, is not good enough. If we started accepting where we are… being content with what we are able to accomplish, contribute, “be” in any given moment… instead of beating ourselves up and judging ourselves for not being enough… what would happen? I think there’s a fear that we would backslide. That if we started easing up on the reigns, we would never move forward. After many, many years of pushing and shooting for the extreme… I’m starting to question whether this is true.

Take the scenario this morning with getting the kids to school. If I’d gotten up, allowed the kids to get ready in a normal, relaxed manner, and gotten them to school 10 minutes late… I probably would have beaten myself up and judged myself for being late. As it happened, I slept in, got them to school an hour late, and proceeded to beat myself up and judge myself for being late. Are you noticing a theme? What if, instead of beating myself up for being 10 minutes late, I congratulated myself for not being an hour late? Same situation, but viewed with a different lens. In one scenario, I’m feeling judged and unhappy… in the other, I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Again… same situation!

Now, I suppose you could argue that I could take the same tactic with the hour late scenario… at least I got them to school today instead of just skipping the whole day. Well… you’re right. In fact, if I allow myself that scenario… and accept that I’m doing the best I can… then I start feeling better about myself… which I can’t help but think influences the future decisions I make and how I function in the world. I guess the bottom line to me is that the all or nothing thinking tends to crop up from a place of judgment. If we can be nicer to ourselves, perhaps we can make decisions that lead us closer to how we want to be… who we want to be. And… if we can be nice to ourselves all along the way… how much happier we will be! And isn’t that what we’re all going for, after all? Don’t we all want to be happier?

Something to think about for the week!  Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

To Err is Human…

Then shouldn’t we be used to it by now? Isn’t it the human way to learn by trial and error… and for some of us error… and error… and then a few more errors for good measure! Well… if error is such common occurrence, then why do we get so flustered by it? Why do we make ourselves feel so awful and beat ourselves up so much? (That’s not just me, is it?) A curious thing if, in fact, one of the main reasons we’re on this earth is to learn and grow and one of the main ways that we learn and grow is through making mistakes.

But what is the alternative? To celebrate our screw ups? What about the hurt feelings, the tears and the anger… potentially experienced by others as well as ourselves… all direct results of our poor choices? Hmmm… makes the celebrating thing seem a little out of line, huh? I’d like to push for acceptance as the alternative. And by acceptance, I do not mean hide in the corner and pretend it didn’t happen. I mean… take responsibility for the poor choice, make amends where needed, and forgive yourself for being human. If you can then learn from the experience and grow accordingly, you might even go so far as to thank the person or people who’ve helped you grow… if they’re still talking to you, that is.

Acceptance is something I’ve been playing with for quite a while. It’s a term I’ve struggled with for the very reason that I am constantly pushing myself to learn and grow as a person. Acceptance, at times, has seemed like defeat to me. Giving up and “accepting” that I can’t change whatever it is that I am accepting. In Byron Katie‘s work, she refers to acceptance as the ability to stop fighting with the reality of what is. It’s a paradigm shift that has helped me come to my current understanding of what I believe acceptance is.

Here’s where I’m at right now on the whole acceptance thing… I think that acceptance means you are acknowledging reality. I think that acceptance does not necessarily mean that you like the choices you made or that you wish you’d made them. It does mean that you choose to forgive yourself and recognize that there are lessons to be received if you allow yourself to be open and accept them.

I’m wondering how you handle your own mistakes… do you pretend they didn’t happen? do you apologize profusely? are there candy and roses given to all involved? Where do you fall on the whole acceptance thing? And most importantly… how do you make yourself feel better when the inevitable occurs?

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

What I’m learning about me…

a) I don’t like diets.

b) Diets make me feel like a failure.

c) I really dislike it when other people are better at something than me.

In general, I think of myself as a pretty easy-going person. I could tell though when I started playing this game that my competitive edges were starting to stick out a bit. Then we started tallying our points and our scorekeeper sent out spreadsheets and graphs with a comparison of our points and the various team rankings. Yikes! My competitive edge went into overdrive and I did not like it… I became my own worst drill sergeant. So… the second week, just to recap, I did well on points but I was pretty miserable. One thing that struck clearly… I don’t like being told that I can’t have something. I could feel my visceral reaction when my daughter was asking people if they wanted thin mints and when she got to me she said, “Oh Mommy… right… you can’t have these.”  Mama say what??? I’ll tell you what… I see a BOX of thin mints in my near future!

Yesterday one of my teammates sent out an email asking who might want to be scorekeeper for the next Game on. I had a HUH? moment.  I was so confused. I was barely managing to get through this 4 week session and she was already talking about the next round. I literally wanted to crawl through the computer and smack her (Sorry, Carol, if you’re reading this, but it’s true!) It made me wonder… what makes some people respond so well to peer pressure and game playing, while others do not. Or is it just that I’m really bad at this game so I don’t like it? I’m certainly not even entertaining the idea of a round 2. Regardless of weight lost… which has been only a couple of pounds, I have no intention of putting myself through the constant vigilance of paying attention to when I eat, how I eat, what kind of fat, how many hours ago, how many hours til I have to eat again… too much obsession with food! I can do a little planning, but this is extreme.

As I finish out my final week, I’m starting to think about what I’ll be able to carry on with me outside of the game environment. I know I will be drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables. I’m definitely sticking with the whole grain bread… It is so much tastier and more fulfilling than white bread! I already walk regularly, but I’ve never really incorporated the resistance training piece before. I like the idea of doing weights and some old-fashioned calisthenics on the days I don’t walk. I’m pretty sure I won’t be sticking to the eating pattern… it might be healthier to eat 5 smeals (my word for the little mini meals you eat on this plan) a day… but it is so utterly inconvenient!

Here’s what I know for sure (to steal a little Oprah moment)… I know that I am not what I eat, or how I look in any given moment. To love and accept myself as I am is the first step toward wholeness. Does that mean I throw away the rules and eat like a glutton? Of course not… that would not be loving myself. Showing up… paying attention… accepting… loving… forgiving… and taking the next step forward. These are the things that make for a good day.

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”  Buddha

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