Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Healthy aging’

With the predictions for a very cold and snowy winter looming, my body began to yearn for warmth and simplicity. The answer: a ten-day getaway to a warmer climate.

After our last ‘all-inclusive holiday’ three years ago, I declared that the appeal of such holidays had waned and that in the future, beach vacations were no logger desirable. WRONG! Winter weather can influence your decision-making I have learned. And opinions can change when influenced by certain circumstances. Celebrating the first anniversary of my first knee replacement Jim and I left for Cuba. Flying there with the intention of simplicity, we held our ground engaging only in ample beach walking coupled with book reading and occasional sun bathing (with SPF 60).

As an avid reader this was a great opportunity – no distractions. I chose three non-fiction books to get me started: No Reservations by Alice Steinbach, On the Brink of Everything by Parker Palmer, and Becoming by Michelle Obama. With my nature, that of a soul always searching for meaning, each book touched me in a specific way. Sharing….

No Reservations
Author Alice Steinbach shares a year-long journey, a travel sabbatical, through her experiences in Paris, London and Oxford and finally Venice and other parts of Italy. Stepping away from her busy life as a journalist with the Baltimore Sun, Alice identifies the challenges of engaging in a quieter life when one is accustomed to the demands and busyness of a journalist’s typical routine. Early in the book she asks, “Are we measuring time or living it?’

I was sure she wrote that question for me. I ‘measure life’.  Of this I am clear. I struggle with being in the moment, with having a day without a plan, with facing a new year with no intentions, goals or resolutions. When I go for a walk, I time it or measure how far I have walked. And even as I write this, I know that I am unlearning these habits. But it is an unlearning, a shift. It does not happen simply by snapping my fingers. As I traveled with Alice on her year of adventure and observed her ‘softening’ if you will, I could and can see myself easing into a different approach and life style.

I also loved this: M = EA (Mishap + Excellent Adventure)
Mishaps happen, and we allow ourselves to become dismayed, upset, angry, or disappointed. OR we can re-program and know that a mishap is an opportunity for an excellent adventure.

Okay, some serious re-programming is underway.

On the Brink of Everything
With the sub-title Grace, Gravity and Getting Old, this book spoke to my ongoing search for healthy aging and living the Third Act full-out. By one of my favorite authors Parker Palmer, this book offers a series of insightful essays and poems. The author, approaching his 80th birthday may have a few years on me and with that added wisdom, a slightly different perspective on living the later years.

In introducing the contents, Palmer had me hooked, inviting the reader to enjoy being old as this is a time in life when we can stand on the brink. It is that time when you can take in the full panorama of your life and understand the past, present and future with new eyes and with unfolding wisdom. His invitation is simple – there is very little left to fear, nothing left to lose so simply go for it!

One of the poems he shared truly touched me.

Harrowing
The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year’s growth demolished by the blade.

I have plowed my life this way
turned over a whole history
Looking for roots of what went wrong
Until my face is ravaged, furrowed and scarred.

Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come,
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons –

The farmer plows to plant a greening season.

I know that not everyone loves metaphor or poetry as I do (especially metaphor). The idea of plowing my life, uprooting the history of rights and wrongs, has been a habit of mine. The poem reminded me of the philosophy I now embrace which is, ‘Everything is perfect’ and ‘Everything happens for a reason’. I have learned that embracing this philosophy is a breath of fresh air for me. It allows me to forgive and forget the sting of certain events; it helps me appraise the lessons learned when I have fallen hard or screwed up; it has helped me understand the building blocks that life lessons are, making me, allowing me, to be the person I am. Finally, it has helped me understand that perfection is a journey, not a destination, a becoming….

And finally form Palmer’s book, this question: What do I want to let go of and What do I want to give myself to? Isn’t this the perfect question for moving forward?

Becoming
And finally, on this week’s hit list, Becoming by Michelle Obama.

I admit, I was skeptical, lots of hoopla and….more.

Okay, I loved it. I would say to any reader the following: it is a ‘full meal’ book, something hardy and which takes time to digest, uplifting and at times disturbing, well written and relatable, a look at what it is like to grow up in a completely different culture than is familiar to me while still identifying similarities.

And I appreciate the message ‘becoming’, which flows throughout the book, understanding that again, life is a becoming, a journey, not a destination, not about’growing up’. It continues….

There were no big AHA’s or profound messages in this book, just a great read and an engaging story; a read that left my curious about what is next for Obama and what is next for her country.

Final Thoughts
As books are prone to do, they have a lasting effect either through sharing or through ideas that are spawned by the words of others.

Coming into 2019 I keep wondering what it would be like to live life from a platform of JOY. I am far from having the answer, yet this questions was informed by some of my reading. I realized that JOY cannot stand alone and that it is a state that we reach in stages.

What emanated from my musings was something I am referring to as the Joy Equation which is as follows:

Joy = Peace + Gratitude + Love.

I hope to share more with you in future blogs. For now I continue to hold the Joy Equations in my heart as I wonder what joy means to others.

Wishing you all a JOY filled and fueled new year.

Until next time,

 

Betty

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

As 2019 approaches, more quickly than I would like to admit, I find myself reflecting over the weeks and months of 2018 and sinking into the many lessons that have popped into my life during this time. As I have not written my blog now for several months, I thought I might take the time to share what I have been thinking about and consider what is important in forging forward.

Learning to Walk Again
I am now officially bionic, or at least in my view. On January 5th and July 11th of this past year, I received two new knees. Even as I write this, doesn’t it sound and seem just a little weird; the idea that my used and very arthritic knees could be replaced by Titanium and Teflon. Cool!

And as I write this and consider that I met my Orthopedic surgeon just over a year ago, I am feeling blessed by the presence of a small miracle. I can walk again, easily and effortlessly. I can no longer kneel or do squats (Darn!) and so what!

Yes, I am being a bit glib as I hesitate to mention how challenging the journey has been. I have had to both literally and figuratively learn to walk again. Literally, because it had been at least four years since I had been able to walk with comfort. This was a huge blow to me as I am a ‘distance walker’ priding myself in walking 6 km or more 3-4 times per week. Walking was where I found solace, quiet and answers, my meditation. All of this had come to a grinding halt. I had had to learn other ways and means of deriving the same benefits walking could no longer offer me.

And although walking has returned, I quickly realized that a few years of less than optimal physical activity had left my walking muscles tight, shortened and weak. Indeed, I have had to learn to walk again, heel to toe, engaging hips, knees and torso. You would think that as a former physical therapist this would have been obvious. My thoughts – it’s not obvious until it happens to you.

And then there was the metaphorical learning to walk again. In the last few years I have stepped more fully into my third act. Knee surgeries, and a few other health hiccups this past year, have given me ample time to rest in the ‘neutral zone’ of transition; time to wonder, reflect, explore and probe the possibilities of what’s next. Going slow is not my usual speed. I enjoy action. This has been new territory for me. I continue to learn how to walk in this space.

Love, Loss and Lessons
In August my brother-in-law David left us. He died by his own hands; yes, it is difficult for me to say – suicide. This act is one of those things that you hear about and which happens to other families. And now it arrives on our doorstep.

At the wake, watching a series of slides featuring Dave and the way he lived, looking into his eyes, I asked my brother-in-law Todd where Dave went to. We were both puzzled. This is the hidden story of depression and anxiety and our inability as a society to understand the pain, hopelessness and frazzled brains that leads to this choice. Dave’s descent into all of this was rapid and insidious. Therapy, medications, support – nothing reached him.

The lesson for me, as I hope it is for our family, has been to exercise my understanding, to celebrate who he was in health (an amazing father, husband and citizen), and to exercise non-judgment. I have endeavored to understand that he died of depression, as malignant and aggressive as any cancer I have ever experienced. I am sad; our family is sad. We are a relatively tight knit family and a hole had been punched in the fabric of who we are.

And on the other side, Jim and I have been privileged to be part of Mary’s journey. My sister-in-law has amazed me with her courage, her ability to face this sudden loss and the effect this has on her life, her capacity to support her three children, and most importantly, to move on. She is and has been a role model for all of us.

Cultivating Curiosity
When I grow up, I want to be….. How many times do you hear that from youngsters and the occasional adult. And, do we really want to grow up. Doesn’t it imply that there is an endpoint to reach. And once reached, then what? This has me wondering.

I have decided that growing up is overrated. That end point I mentioned feels too finite, that once I reach it I will have learned all I need to know, that growing up is the death of curiosity. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration AND…..

If I have learned anything over this past year is that curiosity is the life blood of remaining young and vibrant; it may even be a significant antidote to aging. Curiosity is more than just learning although learning is definitely involved. For me it is living with the ‘what if …’ What if I made different choices, what if I go in this direction, turn that corner, jump, leap or run. What if I stopped doing all the things I habitually do and do well, what would show up? What if I created more ‘being’ space, what would I learn or experience? What if I traveled and explored more, what surprises would reveal themselves to me?

You get the drift. I recognize not everyone will agree with me just as I understand that curiosity is like breath to me. And with that understanding, I will continue to cultivate curiosity and to endeavor to understand what is left for me to be and do as I continue my life journey. Care to join me?

Living in the White Space
Take out a clean sheet of paper. Now take a pen or pencil and draw a dot on the paper. You chose how large. Step away, avert your gaze for a moment. Now look at it again. What do you see?

Most people will see the black dot. Do you? What else do you see? Do you see the white space around the dot? Which occupies more of the paper, the black dot or the white space?

Imagine for a moment that the black dot represents all the negativity around you – sickness, loss, negative news, fake news. Yes, these are the things that both capture and hold our attention. And yet, in reality, they are only a single black dot in the whole. Negative events exist in a field of other events, mostly positive and uplifting, small miracles happening around us, generally unwitnessed because the black dot holds our attention.

I want to learn to live in the white space. I fear that the black dots may take over and I will lose my sense of optimism. The white space does not imply ignorance, it simply means learning to be in the small miracles of everyday from waking up, to a new flower or fresh snow, to the abundance of life and to the good and great things happening in the world around us.

I remember listening to an Abraham (Esther Hicks) tape a few years ago on the topic of negative news. She was counselling an audience member with a fatalistic and downward spiraling attitude and reminding him that for every piece of negative news reported, there are thousands of uplifting and positive events occurring and unreported. Fear makes news. Love does not.

And so part of my learning to walk again, despite the changes and challenges contained within 2018, is to remain in the white space, to identify the daily miracles, to cultivate my curiosity and seek out the amazing things that are happening around me.

I would love to hear your thoughts and observations.

Wishing everyone a joyful holiday season and celebration.

Read Full Post »

My coach Patty frequently reminded me that in life there are many choices and we get to choose what it is we want. She suggested that we chose in favor of ‘what lights us up’. While we no longer have our weekly calls, I find myself considering her advice more often than not, reminding myself that at this stage of life, my Third Act, I can finally give myself permission to choose for me. With obligation, responsibility, ‘shoulds’ and more fading into the background of my life, I finally can choose what lights me up.

The re-awakening of this idea came through a conversation with one of my coaching clients last week. Like many of us, her retirement has been dedicated to several causes. Being the loyal person she is, it has been challenging for her to say no or to step away from a group or cause once she has committed. And like many of us who are living our Third Act, she is slowly and progressively burning out because the work involved no longer lights her up. Fortunately for her, she is aware of this and is seeking coaching to understand how to extricate herself from the circumstances she has co-created and to begin making different choices for herself and what comes next?

As each of us moves forward at this time in life, perhaps any time in life, there are a few intentional questions that we might consider asking ourselves before jumping in…Does this choice light me up?

  • Does this choice bring me joy?
  • Does this choice pique my curiosity, engage me, inspire me to help me learn?
  • Does this choice serve to feed my soul, my purpose, my passion?
  • Does this choice contribute to the legacy I wish to leave for others?
  • Does this choice have meaning to me?

Have you asked yourself any of these questions? I have and I have also forgotten to. I still find myself saying yes to things that do not respect any of the above and most certainly do not light me up. The thing is, others know that you are capable, perhaps a go-getter and probably reliable, so they ask you to get involved. And out of some sense of obligation or loyalty to them, you say yes. The thing is, in doing so, you are being disloyal to yourself.

As stated earlier, life is about choice. It is my hope for me and for you that we begin making the choices that light us up because if not now, when? This is the opportunity of the Third Act.

All that said, you may be reading this and thinking, ” I haven’t a fu__ing clue what lights me up. Maybe, maybe not. If you have never explored the idea, how would you know. Maybe what lights you up lives under layers and layers of responsibility and obligation. It might be that you need to clear your plate of anything you are currently engaged in to create space for new possibilities. It’s challenging to see an entirely new landscape if you are living in the basement.

So start here:

  • List all of the activities that currently occupy your time.
  • Run them through the filter – the questions listed above. Do they fit any of the criteria?
  • Decide which of these activities you will drop (it doesn’t need to be all of them but at least some of them). This is called space management.
  • Before replacing any activity take a time out. Set an intention: “I am attracting opportunities that light me up, that bring me joy, that inspire and engage me”.
  • When something appears, especially if it is something totally unexpected, exercise your curiosity and explore it.
  • Check in with your heart frequently, your head not so much. If you find yourself excited or intrigued, you are in the right ball park.

It all sounds simple and it is. We are the filter that complicates things.

The key is making mindful decisions for your Third Act and how you want to play in the world. Look before you leap, reflect before you commit, be true to yourself and your desires. And, most importantly, have FUN!

Until next time,

Betty

Read Full Post »

It is challenging not to notice the changes that aging creates, especially in our bodies. Having experienced the ravages of inflammatory arthritis over the last few years, and the physical limitations this has imposed, it would be and is easy to go down the road of ‘getting old sucks’.

Of course, the last few weeks have bee particularly challenging as I had my first Total Knee Replacement of January 5th. This is part of the reason I have been absent from blogging. For those of you who have experienced this surgery, you know that the first two weeks are brutal, there is no sugar coating required. Beyond the two-week mark, things get easier, or at least they did for me, and you are able to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I will be quite honest and admit that the journey has been tougher than even I imagined, especially knowing that I have the opportunity of doing it again with the other knee.

Okay, enough! What has the journey really been about? Moving forward, frankly. Giving myself the opportunity to have pain free knees that allow me to enjoy the walking that has always been so important to me and resuming a life style I want to live. Yes, getting old sucks and yes, there are things we can do about it.

Over the last 3 + weeks I have had ample opportunity for reflection, it seems to me that healing has been occurring at many different levels. While the physical limitations have left me somewhat housebound, I have been given the gift of reflection time. I have focused on what’s changing and shifting: work, where we live, what I really want, releasing and so much more. Too bad I needed surgery to create these conditions however it is important to note that with every change or even loss lies the possibility of opportunity.

I have also recognized how little compassion I offer myself. Actually, it was Jim who noticed as he watched me push through my exercises every day, endure the discomfort and become discouraged. “Why are you so hard on yourself”, he would ask. “You are progressing each day. Notice the improvements and have a little compassion for yourself.” Thank God, I have a cheerleader.

He was right. The moment I shifted gears and began to offer myself more love and compassion, the better I felt and the better my knee seemed. Now I am looking for the small signs of progress everyday like finally being able to put on my own sock, walk comfortably without a cane, get in and out of regular chairs, and more.

All this to say that we can agree that getting old sucks just as we can agree that when things change, we create new opportunities. What we focus on is the source of our energy and while it might be a tad more challenging to see the good in life with each passing year, our attitude is an essential ingredient in our long-term health. This time off has allowed me to dream, to explore possibilities, to consider options and most importantly to begin planning my retirement and what will engage my spirit. It really has been perfect after all!

Let’s all agree that staying positive is essential for each of us to thoroughly engage in and enjoy our Third Act.

Read Full Post »

A friend and fellow coach recently visited her homeland following a few years of living in Canada. Upon returning, she and her husband felt drawn back to the area and are now contemplating this as a possible choice for their retirement. And while this is a few years off, she and I began to reflect on our shared journeys of ‘coming home’.

Jim and I recently decided that post Tigh Shee, our current home, we will live in Cornwall, the city where we both grew up. Now I did not plan on this as I was happy to move away and move on from Cornwall when I left at 19, not anticipating that I would ever chose to return. And here we are…coming home?

Likewise, both of us have been playing with ‘what’s next’? Neither of us are in the mood or have the desire to be pounding the pavement promoting our services. Both of us continue to work, or as we prefer to say ‘play’ as when work is what you love, it does not seem like work. And likewise, we have both been allowing the work to come to us with the intention of attracting what is in our ‘highest good’. So far this approach has been filling our schedule to the extent that we want..

Back to the idea of ‘coming home’, there is this theory that you cannot go home again. I believe that there are two sides to this saying.

First, you cannot go home if going home means returning to the ways things once were and expecting that life will be the same. This is not possible as you have changed, life has changed, others have changed, everything has changed.

On the other hand, there is another side of coming home, the side that encourages you to get back in touch with YOU as you once were, before all the layers of responsibility fell on your shoulders, before you went to work and lost yourself. It is a remembering process and the de-cluttering process we discuss in the Third Act. Back to your roots and what is truly important to you today and for the immediate future; free of the expectations of others, free of the rules you have had to play by to be successful, free to be YOU.

And it is a simpler you – beneath all the layers, the years of clutter, the should’s and more, there is an essential you who knows what is important and what is meaningful. I am not saying it is always easy to see who you once were, I am simply saying that ‘coming home’ is a process, one that requires attention, reflection, and a few probing questions.

Reclaiming yourself, as you once wanted to be and can be now, is the process of coming home and being fully engaged in your Third Act.

Conscious Aging

In an article by Kerry Temple-Wood, I was made aware of a new term: eldering. Okay I sometimes think that we actually try too hard to invent new language for an emerging situation. Eldering does not resonate with me however, the definition does: Conscious Aging.

The article begins with the call to Boom rather than Bust as we age, addressing the ageist society we currently live by cultivating an attitude that honors our value. This means it is our work to create new roadmaps for ourselves, and become new role models for society.

The author goes on to share:
We have the opportunity to open the doorway—to forge the path of aging consciously, successfully, and mindfully. As we pioneer a new aging process, we can honor our ripening by making life-enhancing choices to become both radiant and wise. …

As parents and community members, we try everything in our power to support our young people with healthy self-esteem, confidence, skills, and resilience. Why then, do we sell ourselves short past 50?

Why do we let ourselves be sold to, convinced that aging is negative, to be avoided and fought against?

Why is older, experienced, and hopefully wiser, not better?

If “youth is wasted on the young,” then why are we not taking the lessons and experiences we’ve learned, and putting them to better use for ourselves and our communities as we age?

Temple-Wood closes with a call to action which reminds us to check in with our own mindset in regard to aging. Have we assumed it will be all downhill from here or are we prepared to set our course for aging mindfully, consciously and with intention?

This is where I am setting my sights!

 

Until next time…

Betty

Read Full Post »

In this conversation Transitioning into the Third Act, we have arrived at the final phase of the model INTEGRATION. It is the obvious consequence of waking up to your new circumstance and wondering what is next, searching the landscape for what the new possibilities are, releasing old habits that no longer serve you and de-cluttering your life, and breaking through to see a new vision for your life emerging.

INTEGRATION feels like a happy, contented place to land.

As I look at this from my perspective I am finding that INTEGRATION takes time to achieve and in some ways, I wonder if it really ever happens, or if it does, if it is only temporary. At the moment it is an elusive target.

Like any model of change and transition, the stages are rarely linear meaning that you circle around. You have this magical AHA moment where you realize that you have this blank canvas before you and you get to decide what masterpiece you paint. Cool! The search begins. But does the search ever end? If you and I are true to ourselves, we may want to exercise perpetual curiosity, keeping the search open. Just sayin’.

And then the struggle – the de-cluttering of one’s life. Okay, clearly this happens in layers. If I have learned anything over the last few weeks, it is that clearing one layer simply opens another layer, opens another layer and so on. The perfect metaphor for me has been our decision to place our house on the market, understanding that we are choosing to downsize and simplify. Seventeen years in one location, forty-four years of marriage, and what do you have – more stuff than you can imagine. An interesting note here is that I have always complemented myself on my ability to de-clutter. Guess what – I forgot to look in the corners. And isn’t this just like life!

And then there is Breakthrough when we begin to see the possibilities for what we want emerging. Layers of clarity dust away the blurred edges of a future vision. As the edges sharpen, it sometimes means going back to the Search for more information. Occasionally you can see you are standing in your own way so you need more de-cluttering and attitude adjustment. The process is circular.

This enhanced understanding of transitioning into the Third Act is helpful. Change and transition is a dynamic process, it is never-ending and if we are honest with ourselves, it is probably what keeps us alive and engaged.

So now what?

Integration is the time to create a plan of action. What is it you want? What has been highlighted for you through the other phases that you now wish to pursue. Unlike other times in your life, you may not need to identify specific goals however, you may wish to declare your intentions. For example:

“I am engaged and inspired; I am attracting opportunities that build from my strengths and interests. I am open to exploring new possibilities for learning and expressing my great gifts.”

In terms of goals, “In the next four weeks I will identify 1-2 possible opportunities for me to explore; I plan to sign up for a course in creative writing in January; and so on”. Goals have a concrete action or outcome.

And then there is work – the roadSIGNS Coach continues to be Open for Business and I have yet to grow weary of work. There are days where I say I will pull back and stop and then a roadSIGN appears which suggests ‘Not Yet’. It appears that an essential part of my Third Act will be to continue teaching, facilitating and coaching, building on everything I have learned over the last 20 years and expanding the work.

Interesting, in simply writing these few words, it feels valid and true. So it would seem that one of my intentions for moving forward is as follows,

I am Open for Business. I am facilitating and coaching. I am expanding my work into the Third Act of my life.

Now this feels like integration.

I would be interesting to hearing from my readers on what has become clear to you in this journey.

Until Next Time,

Betty

Addendum


This past week I offered my first workshop ‘Thriving in the Third Act’. This is part of my integration, the knowing that I would like to share this journey with others, provide a bit of a framework for living a healthy and engaging Third Act and to continue learning.

If anyone would like to join in on this journey, you need only to notify me. It is my plan to begin offering a Thriving in the Third Act Program in 2018. This may be after all the dust settles with our eminent move, however, it is an idea that lights me up. Who’s in?

Read Full Post »

Compassion seems to be the theme running through my life and the lives of others these days. It could also be that I am noticing all the signs as I prepare for a retreat mid-October entitled ‘The Healing Power of Self-Compassion’.

So what have I been noticing?

First is Ed, a 65 + fellow who was participating in a program called Choices and where I was a guest facilitator. My topic was the importance of goals and intentions. While the class was diverse, participants of different age groups as well as reasons for being there, it was clear that Ed was struggling with his Third Act choices.

Although my interaction with him was as part of the group, what I saw was an amazing fellow who did not believe in himself, his worth or what he had to offer the world. At the end of the morning he expressed his desire to simply find his voice and identify opportunities for feeling some level of confidence in speaking.

What was really holding him back was his self-critic, literally roaring in his ear. As I have learned, this voice generally shouts: “You are not worth it” and/or “Who do you think you are”. And that is very damaging, especially when it isolates you and makes you feel like you are the only person who has this voice.

Next is Eileen who I met just last evening. A former nurse and nurse educator, you can see that this is a woman with great knowledge and a desire to share. Because she is also a survivor of coronary disease, she also has firsthand knowledge of  heart care for women. In other words, she is impressive.

In a conversation with her during a New Beginnings Workshop, she expressed her sense of being under-engaged, feeling a lack of purpose. The critical part of her was telling her that this was the time in her life for her to take care of her and that this was the most important focus. After all she had dedicated her life to caring for others. During our conversation I pointed out to her that this is not an either-or discussion. This is a trap I believe many of us fall into, that to focus on ‘ME FIRST” is a unilateral event however, by my definition ME FIRST is predicated on selfness – taking care of self so as to leverage one’s ability to care for others.

As our conversation continued, I suggested to Eileen that perhaps it was a ‘both-and’ conversation, that she could focus on self-care as well as continuing to offer her gifts to others. In doing so I encouraged her to dip into the past, her experiences and wisdom, harvest the gems and notice her passion, and attract opportunities for engaging these. As the discussion continued, I could see her simply ‘light-up’.

 

We Are Our Own Worst Enemy
For both Ed and Eileen, it was evident their self-critics were having a field day. This is the absence of self-compassion. The stories they were telling themselves, the criticism they were levying upon their shoulders, were undermining their enjoyment of life. They would never have dreamed of criticizing others in this way and this is what happens. You are much harder on yourself than you would ever be on others.

This needs to stop. All of us need to step into a role of being our own best friend and ally, that person who sits in our corner and lifts us up and stops putting us down. Trust me, self-criticism will never lead to happiness, only self-compassion can do that.

 

The Three Steps to Self-Compassion

Based on the research of psychologists Kristen Neff and Brene Brown, there are three essential components in cultivating self-compassion:

  1. Self-Kindness vs Self-Judgment
    Self-kindness is simply easing up, being gentler and kinder in your comments to yourself. You can start by considering what you might say to someone else in a similar circumstance. What words of caring or encouragement would you offer a child, a spouse, a friend or a colleague facing a specific situation. Now offer those words to yourself. You are just as deserving, just as important, just as gifted. There is absolutely no need for you to put yourself down.
    Secondly, when facing a situation where you are tempted to come down hard on yourself, think before you leap. Ask yourself what you really need at that moment. Do you really need more criticism making the situation worse, or do you need some loving kindness. Consider the difference this might make for you in moving forward.
  2. Common Humanity vs Isolation
    As someone who has great mastery in self-criticism, I can tell you that for many years I thought I was the only one who thought this way, who could be genuinely mean to myself. You see, this is something we just don’t talk about. Sometimes I wonder if we should have a party and all come as our respective self-critics!
    When I began to discuss this with other about 20 years ago, I discovered very quickly that I was not alone, that most of us had a ‘Negative Nellie’ sitting on our shoulder who was willing to jump in at any point and reek emotional havoc.
    The second aspect of self-compassion is to recognize that you are not alone, that being imperfect is part of the human experience. We all have an inner-critic – it is best to simply accept him/her, shake hands with that devil and move on. It is helpful to share his/her words and messages with others. You may be surprised at other people’s stories about themselves.
    Also recognize that making mistakes, which is the self-critic’s fuel, is normal. And, not only is it normal, it is important for mistakes are where we learn and grow.
  3. Mindfulness vs Over-Identification
    So how do you start. My experience has been that much of the critical noise in my head is like elevator music. It is playing constantly and I am not mindfully aware of it. The first step in taming the critic is to become aware of what you are actually telling yourself, to pay attention to the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are showing up.
    Then you can exercise compassion and come back to kindness and ask yourself, “what would I rather think or feel? What other behaviors would be better for me?”

In other words, you begin learning to re-program the critic. You make compassionate choices which lift you up, which celebrate who you are, and which acknowledge your gifts.

This may seem like a lot of work, and it is, and it is important work.

A little compassion goes a long way and can help you have the most amazing Third Act journey. It no longer serves you to put yourself down, and it no longer serves anyone else either. It is time for you to live up to all the potential stored inside of you. This will be fueled by every ounce of compassion you can give yourself.

Take a look at this short video as well:

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »