Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Days 11 - 16 Self-Compassion 101

Welcome to days 11-16 in my journey of Self Compassion 101 e-course by Becky at Raising Loveliness.

Day 11: Be Who You Are and Find Your Voice

"In what ways would your life change if you knew you were perfect as you are? What would you do differently? Where would you really shine?"
If I could totally accept myself as perfect just as I am, there would be no self judgments. I would be free, completely confident, and totally trusting of my intuition. If I was totally trusting of my intuition, I could find myself in a very different place right now because there would be no fear, just the instinct to act, and if combined with my stubbornness when I am determined to follow through with my gut, it could lead to my dreams of being a published author and professional artist come true. But alas, I do have fear, self-doubt, and I discourage easily when I have doubts about a project, so I give up and tell myself it isn't meant to be.

Day 12: Finding Self-compassion in the Reflection of Others

"Letting go is a vital part of making way for new opportunities. What gifts have you found in the process of letting go? How can you celebrate those gifts today?"
This question hit an emotional spot. In 2006 we said our final goodbyes to my Dad who was taken by lung cancer and made his peaceful transition in July. Letting him go was heartbreaking, but it brought me and Mom even closer together than we had been before. It led to me stepping up as the oldest daughter and becoming Mom's caregiver. She moved in with me and together we moved forward. I was there to hold her when she cried, and I was there during her first near deaths and intubations. We held tight to each other, and to my younger son Drew who was a teenager at the time.

One year ago on December 19th I had to say a very difficult emotional goodbye to my Mom. After Dad, a part of her didn't want to keep living; we all recognized this. Her health declined and yet she couldn't force herself to take control of her illnesses by taking care of herself. Mom struggled with COPD, Congestive Heart Failure, and uncontrolled Diabetes for six years. She had been intubated over a dozen times in those six years, but always pulled through, until Thanksgiving 2012. Immediately after our family dinner, she went into another episode, but this time she never recovered. She remained on life support for nearly a month until the doctors informed us she would never be able to get off the respirator. As her Power of Attorney it was my call to make, but I involved my sister and my sons (we all knew her wishes); so it was a family decision but I was the one to inform the doctor of our decision and to set the date. Although she was kept heavily sedated, her transition was not peaceful like Dad's. Her body struggled for a few hours after we took her off life support; it was awful and I think it will haunt me for the rest of my days. It was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, but as horrible and painful as it was, it did come with unexpected gifts.

As Mom's Executor of her estate, I had to remain calm and strong to carry out everything that needed to be done. I think that is probably what kept me going. In this process I learned and grew, becoming stronger and more independent. I faced some harsh realities, and a determination to survive and keep going was born. I am stronger because of these experiences, but I still struggle with the heartache.

A few short months later, my sister had to move away. It felt like just yesterday that I was packing up all Mom's belongings and there I was packing up my sister's too. In August we said our farewells and I felt like I was losing my sister along with my Mom. It was difficult for both of us. My determination and positive attitude really kicked in to help pull this last minute move together and get it done, while trying to help my sister see the positive side. It sure hurt to see her go though. I think this goodbye was another strength builder... for both of us.

Change is often hard, but I believe it is for our higher good.

Day 13: Ways to Change Your Mind With Compassion

"How can you love yourself more by raising awareness?"
The lesson for this day was to practice assertiveness and raise awareness in others helps them reflect on their behavior, as well as help me to love myself and stand up for myself in a positive way. Being assertive in this way has  always been a struggle. I tend to stuff my feelings rather than defend myself. Defending myself seems too confrontational and I hate conflict; I'm a peacemaker. Learning to be assertive in this manner will take some practice; even right now my self-talk is telling me "no."

This lesson also included an introductory to Emotion Freedom Technique for Self-Compassion (EFT). I learned EFT a few years ago to help with my headaches, but this method is to aid in self-compassion. Basically, you tap points of your head and face while saying a positive affirmation, such as "I love and accept myself." You can learn more about EFT here.

Day 14: Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

"Do you feel that your needs are being met in all areas? [Physical, Mental, Spiritual & Emotional]  ...What do you need to add to your life so that your needs are met?"
This question reminds me that living the life of a recluse has its downfalls; I sometimes feel lonely, so I'd have to say that my emotional needs are not always met. As for my physical needs, that is a HUGE negative.  I need some kind of exercise, but because of my health problems and my laziness, exercise is a great big turn off. I don't like it, it triggers my COPD and my back problems, and I avoid it. Spiritually, off an on. I need better self-discipline in this area, and Mentally, is a yes; I work on my mental well-being daily; I have to in order to beat the gloomies and stress.

Day 15: Compassion For Your Whole Self

"Are you able to feel compassion for your past?"
Mostly I look back with regret, but I'm learning to recognize that I was working through some serious issues and did the best I could at the time with my lack of coping skills. If I really want to be frank about it, I know that the past happened for a reason and there really is no purpose in me damning myself for something that ultimately played an important role in my life as well as the lives of others. I believe everything happens for a reason for a divine purpose, but I still need to work on my self-forgiveness regarding my past. I can't help but view my old self with disgust, heartache, and guilt.

Day 16: Your Feelings Are A Miracle

"What sensations do I notice in my body right now?"
Well considering I'm still fighting off this virus that I have, I will start with the obvious and my my way down from there. (1) I'm quite disgusted with this nagging cough and my throat is feeling a bit raw from all the hacking, (2) I'm currently experiencing a hot flash (sigh), (3) my foot has gone to sleep and my left should is aching so I need to change positions, (4) I'm rather enjoying these questions to help me delve into my thoughts, (5) I am proud of the steps I have taken and the progress I have made in my life, and (6) my stomach is reminding me it is past my dinner time and I need to eat, and with that I bid you adieu.

Day 6 - 10 of Self-Compassion 101

I have been sick and have fallen even further behind! Ugh! I'm combining posts to catch up. I know long blogs tend to discourage readers, but I feel like it's the only way to keep up right now. I will keep each segment short though.

Day 6: The Quest of a Passion Filled Life- Inner Child Work

"What was your child-self doing when you happened upon her? What was making her giggle? When was the last time you engaged in this same activity? Maybe it is time you did."

When I went inward seeking my inner child I found her coloring on the floor. She was concentrating very hard at her task and choosing her colors with care, as well as being oh-so-careful to outline her coloring before filling it in to make it look just right. After completing her masterpiece she held it up with a hopeful grin and bright eyes as she exclaimed, "Look what I made!" She was proud and wanted to share, as well as wanted my approval.

Finding my inner child deeply consumed in this task was not a surprise, as it was one of my favorite things to do growing up, and still is, although crayons and markers have evolved into pencil, watercolor, and more recently Microsoft Paint, but I will still brake out the crayons and color with my grandkids.

Art is my therapy as well as a favorite pastime; I still indulge in it, and I still like to share my work. I enjoy giving it as a gift, as well as creating positive messages with them to share some positivity with the world. Maybe I do so because I'm pleased with how something turns out, or maybe I am still seeking approval, but also because I want to somehow make a positive difference in the world.

Day 7: Validation Intervention- Examination

"When you do something exciting, is it your first reaction to share it on social media?"

Well, yes. Public media is my way of staying in touch with friends and family that I do not see or talk to on a regular basis. Is this a need for validation? Well honestly, I suppose it could be in part, maybe? But my first reaction is to to share for the simple act of updating my friends and family as to what is happening in my life. 

I don't view my sharing as seeking approval or trying to fit in. I have never felt like I fit in, and that's ok. I remain me. If people don't like me, that's their prerogative. I'm not here to fit in; I'm here to be the best me that I know how to be.

Day 8: When Life Feels Unrecognizable

"What things do I notice throughout my day that feel good in the moment?"
I have noticed that I get the most pleasure out of my day when I help someone in some way. It could be something as minor as assisting in proof reading at work, opening a door for someone, or helping to find an answer to a question. I like helping people and knowing that I can make a positive difference in someone's day, no matter how small.

I wasn't always like this though, and maybe that's why I enjoy it so much now. Growing up I was a self involved problem child, so absorbed in my own problems that I didn't take time out to recognize the struggles of my family and sometimes my friends. It was all about me and trying to make sense of my pain and feelings of confusion, fear, and displacement. My Mom said I was born angry at the world and was determined to make everyone as miserable as me. I was a child, confused and lost. I didn't want to be miserable; I just didn't know how to fix it, nor could I control my emotions.

Things didn't begin making sense to me until my late 30's and that was through my need to examine myself for the purpose of improving and growing.  So basically, I have turned a 180. My strong will lead to my pursuit to fight the depression and anxiety, which led me to the here and now, wanting to share and help others.

Day 9: Moving Forward with Self-Compassion

"What are some of the things in my life that show that I am moving forward? What can I put on  a list to help me recognize or remember all the things that I am accomplishing in a day?
Well, for starters, (1) the fact that I still participate in self-help courses to learn and grow. It seems to be I am ever looking to evolve into a better understanding of myself, which is good in my opinion (2) learning to trust my intuition, (3) helping others, (4) striving to stay positive even when life is difficult, (5) learning not to be so hard on myself, (6) how I recognize that I need cheering up and treat myself to something fun like going to the movies, and (7) learning positive self-talk to calm myself down.

Day 10: Is Anyone Home?

Today's exercise was mediation. I was encouraged to sit quietly and just be, then afterwards note the experience. I still struggle with this type of meditation; my thoughts run rampant and it's hard not to linger on one or more. However Becky gave some encouraging advice as to mediation; she said: 

"If you had difficulty, that’s cool. No judgment, please. Over time you’ll find that none of it is really important. What you learn as you sit in meditation is that there is really no end to your thoughts, what comes up now will come up later. The practice is in the sitting through it all, through the tears, the laughter, the pain. Stuff will come up and it will not kill you. Just sit, notice, acknowledge – and watch it float on by."
That concludes days 6-10, and now I'd like to leave you with this quote I found and love! I couldn't agree more!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 5: What Does Inner Self-Compassion Sound Like?

On day 5 of the Self-Compassion 101 e-course I was encouraged to investigate my inner self-trust and self-compassion.

What does my Self-Compassion sound like? 

What a strange question: what does self-compassion sound like. I can tell you what I see, but how do I explain what is sounds like? Perhaps it means what does self-compassion mean to me?

When I picture my self-compassion I see a little girl, with big soulful eyes wanting to make everyone happy. She puts everyone else's needs and feelings before her own. She is loving, compassionate, and very sensitive. She's happy to help and eager to share, and sometimes... she gets the poor-me's and tends to pout.

It's funny, because this inner child that I see is opposite of the child I used to be. I wonder what that means? This may require further exploration.

The adult me sees myself as a good, compassionate, and responsible person. I will reward myself by indulging in a good movie or an ice cream. I will also cheer myself up in the same manner when I am feeling down. This is my way of being kind and loving to myself.

Self-compassion comes from self-love; it is accepting who you are and being gentle on yourself. It is recognizing that you are only human and mistakes are ok. Self-compassion is forgiving yourself, treating yourself, taking care of yourself, and being kind to yourself. Self-compassion is showing yourself the same compassion you show others.

Where does Self-Compassion live?

Quite simply, self-compassion lives in my soul; it dwells in my heart and the core of my being. I don't know how else to describe it.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having compassion for yourself, quite the opposite in fact. You should appreciate yourself and be grateful for you. Show yourself self-compassion; you are worth it!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day 4: My Purpose

On day 4 of the Self-Compassion 101 ecourse I learned to explore how to trust myself, love myself, be myself, and recognize my true purpose.

"What do you feel deeply called to do in this life?"

Actually this was an easy question: I am deeply drawn to win the battle of depression and anxiety and to help others along the way. I want to do this by sharing my personal experiences, sharing resources, sharing my personal coping tools as well as ones I may discover elsewhere, promoting positive affirmations, and sharing my art.

I have struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life and believe very strongly that my life purpose is to defeat it. I am determined to win this battle, and if I can help other people along the way, well...that would be awesome! I would love to make a positive difference in people's lives! 

Speaking of sharing my art, here are some recent pieces I created using Microsoft Paint. I am having tons of fun with Paint; its been my medium of choice lately. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day 3: Finding My Voice

On day 3 of the Self-Compassion 101 e-course I was encouraged to evaluate my self-talk, you know that little voice inside your head that constantly judges you and makes you second guess yourself?

"Make a list of times or situations when you find that you compare yourself to others. Think of a short affirmation you could tell yourself when this happens."

I actually do this often, especially when it pertains to physique and artistic talent. I find myself thinking: "I wish I had her figure and stamina"  or "I wish I could paint like that!"  The fact of the matter is, I am who and what I am. I was born with particular challenges, talents, and gifts for a purpose in accordance with this life's purpose; I know this, and I have made great strides in accepting Me, but every now and then that ugly little voice chimes in and makes me question my worth.

Well, pooh on you, little mean girl! Shoo! [mentally flicks tiny mean girl off shoulder and watches as she flies across the room]. Now with that being done, I have come up with the following not-so-short affirmation:

"I AM Enough. I love and accept myself fully, right now. I AM beautiful. I AM talented. I love me!"

I may not be everything I want to be, but I am everything I am meant to be right now at this present time, and that is all that truly matters. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Self Compassion E-Course: Days 1 - 2

I recently signed up for a free e-course: Self Compassion 101. As you  know I am a believer in finding ways to add more positive into your life. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to learn how to love and accept yourself. This e-course is perfect for strengthening your self-love and self-compassion! If this is something you would like to participate in, I encourage you to sign up here.

I am having difficulty prioritizing my down time, so I've fallen behind and playing catch up; therefore I am combining the daily lessons in my posts.  The e-course recommends a daily journal, but I have always struggled with daily routine outside of my jobs. When I have down time, I like to veg, and journaling is just not on my veg list LOL

Before I continue, I want to point out that although I may be sharing my progress in the e-course, there is much more available than what I am sharing here. My posts may contain hints of what is in the e-course, but there is much more, and out of respect I will not be sharing details. Becky has done an excellent job at putting this e-course together, and I want to encourage more people to participate by signing up for her course! She has great articles that inspire and encourage, as well as some thought provoking material, and links to other resources.

Day One 

(1) I was encouraged to think about what parts of myself do I constantly try to hide or change, why, and if I could see any possible positive factor or hidden gift in the these areas. Well the first thing that popped into my head was my weight, which is a constant struggle and frustration. Is there a hidden gift related to this struggle? Hmm it sometimes makes me more conscious as to what I am putting into my body, as well as the possible risk factors of not minding my eating: diabetes, and heart/artery disease, as well as the wear and tear on my knees, ankles, and feet from carrying the extra pounds. When I am being health conscious, this is a gift, but when I choose to ignore it... well, not so much; it is a self defeating behavior.

The second thing is my dark side. Yes, I admit that I have a dark side; we all do! My dark side includes negative self talk, pessimism, self defeating behaviors, stubbornness, jealousy, insecurity, and a bad temper if I let things build up for too long, my reclusive nature, and the ability go within myself. My dark side is most definitely is a gift, do you know why? Because it has led me to seeking inside myself and making the choice to change my life by changing my attitude (but you knew that was coming, didn't you?), but my dark side is also the thing that makes me strong. For example: (I) I am so stubborn, that once I make up my mind to do something, I do it. The thing is, is to use this aspect towards good choices, not negative ones! (II) My temper... which if used towards something other than destruction and mayhem can be a good thing; it makes for a great housecleaning motivator LOL as well as a good backbone-finder, and determination motivator, as long as I keep it under control. (III) My reclusive nature allows me to re-energize, search myself, and seek Me-Time; it enables me to pamper myself, as well as explore myself and spirituality.

I delved into my dark side years ago as another tool to accept myself, and by doing so I recognized areas that I needed to understand, and areas that could be beneficial if focused properly. My dark side is part of who and what I am. My choice to accept my Darkness along with my Light, aided my efforts to improve myself, and those efforts lead to growth, and positive change, so yay for me!

My dark side however, is also part of my depression and anxiety. As you know (if you have been following my posts) I have been working very hard on turning my negative thoughts around and being a more positive person, as well as encouraging others to do the same. Your attitude really does matter! As I am constantly preaching: what you put out, you get back, and I don't know about you, but I want more positive in my life, and I want to win my war against depression an anxiety, so there you have it. I choose Positive and Happiness!

(2) I was encouraged to make positive I AM statements, which led to the recognition that I have experienced growth in the last few years! I have been working on myself for several years now, and through this exercise I was able to recognize that I have come a long way from the person I used to be. Some of my I AM statements included: compassionate, artistic, adaptable, encouraging, honest, good, dependable, positive, strong, independent, determined, and self-sufficient. A few years ago, the words strong, positive, independent, determined, and self-sufficient were not on my list.  I saw myself as weak, co-dependent, and unable to support myself. Wow, the growth in six years! How encouraging is that! It makes me wonder what growth I will experience in the next few years.

Day Two

Day two encouraged me to look at how I show compassion with others vs. myself and ways that I can work on self-compassion. I can't tell you how many times I have put the happiness of others before myself, or have forgiven others but beat myself up over the most trivial things! I am my own worst enemy. Why can't I show myself the same compassion and forgiveness? Why am I so hard on myself? Why do I dwell on my past mistakes as well as my minor little glitches? Why do I feel the need to cuss myself and tear myself down? 

I can see this lesson is going to take more work!  I will begin with a promise to not take myself so seriously, and forgive my mistakes. I am only human after all!