Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “judgement”

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

 

Shifting in a Positive Direction

I was listening to a podcast tonight about positive emotions. Something really struck me… and I’ve heard it before but for some reason, it really resonated with me tonight. I’ve struggled in the past with positive affirmations. First of all, most affirmations that I see are usually really exaggerated compared to my current state and secondly, telling myself positive statements that I don’t believe doesn’t usually make me feel better (probably due to reason number one!).

The podcast was discussing a snippet of an Esther Hicks talk. The main point was that in order to get to a more positive state, you don’t have to get to the ultimate end point, you just have to shift in a positive direction. I’ll give you a personal example. Lets say one of my coworkers (only because I don’t want my family to get mad at me), is really irritating me. In the past, I may have used a positive affirmation such as, “I am all loving and totally accepting of all people, including all of my coworkers.” The problem is, I really don’t feel that way in the moment and just because I say it doesn’t necessarily make me feel it. So, the point of the discussion was that we just need to feel for a slight shift in thinking. I could definitely think to myself, “Even though this coworker is irritating me, she is not the most irritating person I’ve worked with.” That feels better than my initial thought and, the important part, I do not feel an immediate resistance to the statement like I did with the exaggerated positive affirmation above.

Our minds tend to continue moving our thoughts forward. So, lets look at how each of these statements might progress after the initial thought.

  • Sheila is really irritating me today. I can’t believe she actually said that in our team meeting. Who does she think she is? She certainly isn’t helping herself with comments like that. I hope she asks for feedback from me this year because I’m really going to let her have it.
  • This is not the most annoying coworker I’ve ever known. I’ve definitely worked with more difficult people in my day. Maybe I’m just learning how to handle myself better? Nah… I don’t think she’s really as bad as Larry was. Now, he was bad. Sheila’s actually ok on most days. Maybe she was just having a bad day today. We all have bad days once in a while. Maybe I should check in with her and see how she’s doing.
  • I am all loving and totally accepting of all people, including all of my coworkers. NOT! That’s a joke. Who is really all loving, anyway? What does that even mean to be all loving? I certainly don’t FEEL all loving toward Sheila. I am so judgmental. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just be nice and get along with people?

Now, obviously the actual thoughts could go any number of ways, but you get the point. A slight shift in thinking can impact all future thoughts and lead you down a completely different path. Also, consider how you would feel with these various streams of thought… definitely better with some than others. In the first one, I feel even more irritated. In the second, I’m actually feeling empathetic toward my coworker which is good for both of us. In the final statement, I’m totally beating myself up. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty clear on which path I want to wander down.

So the biggest obstacle that I can think of not to make the slight change in thought is not realizing that you’re on the path until you’re neck-deep. So, next time we’ll talk more about how to recognize the fork in the road when you’re at the start of it. Until then, I encourage you to pay attention to your thoughts and see if you can make the slightest shift toward happy.

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

Good Enuf is the New Perfect

When did being good enough become not enough? I can’t think of anyone I know who’d be excited to get a “good enough” review. Everybody wants to be the best. Or at least, great! Everyone walks around completely frustrated with what they didn’t get accomplished instead of being satisfied, let alone happy, with what they did. Is it just an evolutionary thing… that we had to focus on the negative in order to survive and now we’re just fostering a bad habit that is no longer serving us… or is there more to it?

Why is this tendency to walk around feeling that we are never good enough so prevalent? I think somewhere along the line, we took the notion that anything is possible a little too far. While it’s true that there are people who can do great things… I don’t necessarily believe that any person can do anything they want. Not every kid who wants to get into Yale makes it. Not every person who wants to be a famous actor or singer will make it big. If you think about it, that’s a heck of a lot of pressure on the person thinking that if they just try hard enough, they can be and do anything they want. All of a sudden, there are no boundaries, no guidelines… no reality checks.

Now, this might seem like an odd way to start back on the blogging circuit! I don’t mean to sound so pessimistic, stepping on the dreams of our youth. But the truth is, this whole ‘gotta be the best’ mentality has stopped me cold on numerous occasions as I’ve thought about getting back to writing. What if it’s not good? Or worse, really bad? What if no one cares? Are we creating a world where people are afraid to fail? And if failing isn’t part of the process, then you certainly aren’t pushing yourself to do anything great… because greatness comes with lots of learnings (aka failures). Come to think of it, maybe that’s exactly (or close to) the recipe to greatness… try, good enough, try, fail, try, good enough, try, fail, (fail, fail, fail), try, better, try, fail, try, great!!

Make no mistake… allowing yourself to be simply ‘good enough’ takes courage… it requires feeling the fear of not being good enough and doing it anyway. It’s recognizing that good enough gets you into the arena… while waiting to be perfect keeps you in the stands. I’m realizing that, at least for me, a whole life of good enough is better than a list of regrets for things that didn’t happen because I was trying to get it perfect or scared I wouldn’t be the best. So, I’m going to hold the fear of not good enough, not long enough, not relevant enough, not witty enough… and I’m going to click the ‘publish’ button anyway. Because in case you haven’t heard… good enuf is the new perfect!

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

Ebb and Flow…

“I easily adapt to the ebb and flow of my life.” ~Louise L Hay – Power Thoughts

This is a power thought I need to work on! I’m realizing I’m not so good at honoring the ebb and flow of my energy. My habit is to go, go, go until my mind and/or body collapses… and then… to rest only as long as absolutely necessary until I can jump back into the game. What I’m realizing lately is that this need for constant motion is entirely my own doing. I’m not a high-profile public figure – I don’t have hoards of people clamoring for my attention every day – no entourage of people waiting for me to give them the ok on things.  Nope… just a normal, busy working Mom who may be her own worst enemy when it comes to chaos!

If I take a long hard look at where I put my energy… much of it tends to go toward taking care of others rather than myself. I do get satisfaction from doing for others… but sometimes at my own expense. There is a part of me that knows the extent to which I do for others is related to my people pleaser self. I want others to like me… to see me as nice. Taking time for myself doesn’t make me look good to others… it makes me look selfish. In reality, I’m not sure that’s true… but it must be an underlying belief that I hold, cause I sure do act as if it’s truth! Often when I do take time for myself, I end up feeling guilty or trying to make up for it by working harder when I’m done. Why, why, why?

Now, I’m not trying to pass myself off as a martyr here. It’s not like I’m doing slave labor 24/7! First of all, no one is making me work so hard at ignoring my own needs. That’s 100% me. Secondly, I have amazing people in my life who love and support me. Many of the things that I do for “others” in the name of helping, could be better served by having them done themselves. For example, my kids could be doing a lot of the stuff that I “take on” in their name. In fact, they’d be better off for it. The problem is, this requires me to be consistent about making them do it. Nagging them to do chores makes me feel like the “bad guy.” While doing it for them makes me feel like a great Mom. In reality, I’m fishing for them instead of teaching them how to fish. Why, why, why?

There are always a million things on the to-do list. And somehow, no matter how many things I get through in a day, the list is always just as full tomorrow. I really want to learn to honor the ebb and flow of my energy. And if my body tells me it needs a “time out,” I want to just take one – and not feel guilty about it. Just honor the fact that sometimes I run at 150%… and other times I need to crank it down to 50% and be ok with that.

What about you? Are you regularly stopping to fill up your tank… or do you run on fumes most of the time? What happens when you hit the lulls of energy and your body needs a break? Do you allow it… or push through it?  Curious how others cope through the demands of the day!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

 

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