In this PsychCentral post, I shared my perspective on emotional health: what it is and how self-compassion is a powerful tool in caring for this aspect of ourselves. I describe emotional health as “the ability to feel and respond to emotions in a way that is adaptive and functional, that supports one’s relationships and autonomy, and is in alignment with one’s core values.” I also shared my perspective on the ways that emotions give us vital information about ourselves and our needs, telling us whether our needs are being met or not. Emotional health is intentionally choosing to respond to an emotion, instead of reacting “in a way that is habitual, unconsidered and often unconscious.”
In this PsychCentral article, I share my perspective on how to think about New Year’s Resolutions in a more self-compassionate way, and how self-compassion is a form of unconditional self-esteem: “It is an understanding that you are worthy of love and acceptance as you are right now; no matter how many wrinkles you have, how much you weigh or what your body composition may be. It is inherently stable: you don’t have to earn love or hustle for worthiness. You are deserving of it right now.”
In this post from PsychCentral, I share my perspective on how self-compassion is a fundamental aspect of having a deeper relationship with yourself. I suggested a few ways to do this. For example, as you go about your day, notice what you say “yes” to. These are activities and needs that will deeply nourish you. Then listen to yourself, and act on these yeses. I shared these examples: “Yes, I’m going to go out with friends rather than work late (like I do most nights); yes, I want to take that class that is interesting to me that I think I don’t have time for; yes, I want to take care of my finances so I’m going to call my student loan servicer; yes, I want to be more mindful in my relationships so I’m going to reflect on what I want to say in response to a challenging email.”
In this article on PsychCentral, I share my perspective on the very common idea that self-compassion is about letting yourself off the hook and having no self-discipline. “Shinraku likened self-compassion to being a “good-enough parent”: a parent who’s kind and gives their kids boundaries. ‘A good-enough parent doesn’t just let their child eat ice cream and play video games all day every day; they know that indulging them in that way would actually not be compassionate or kind. It would be harmful.’”
I was recently interviewed for this article in PsychCentral about how self-compassion can help in quieting the inner critic. I also shared my perspective on how “our harsh self-talk is actually an alarm that indicates we’re facing something scary. … If harsh self-talk is an alarm, your fear is the fire, Shinraku said. ‘We get so caught up in how loud and harsh the sound of the alarm is, that we do not attend to the fire that’s burning—the fear and suffering that require our attention and compassion.’”
I was at Austin Zen Center recently, attending a ceremony for my teacher, who was installed as the Center’s first abbot. As part of the ceremony, my teacher made five statements to summarize his teaching. The one that stuck with me most was this: whatever you find in yourself, acknowledge it, accept it, and forgive. This statement aligns very closely with the three aspects of self-compassion: awareness, a sense of common humanity, and kindness. It also sounds like a recipe for making amends with oneself, and I wanted to share it with you.
At last month’s self-compassion circle, we focused on the group’s challenges with self-criticism at work. I wanted to talk about this topic because I had noticed that a lot of people have intense self-judgment in this area of their life.
I recently read a Huffington Post article about photographer Steve Rosenfield’sWhat I Be Project. Since 2010, Rosenfield has invited subjects to write words on their face and/or body that relate to their deepest insecurities. He then photographs them, looking directly at the camera, and titles their portraits with their insecurity included in the phrase, “I am not my __________________________ .” Rosenfield describes his Project as “a social experiment turned into, what is now, a global movement about honesty and empowerment.” And, I would add, self-compassion.
Do you know the Greek myth of Sisyphus? Short version: Mortal angers the gods and is condemned to eternally push a boulder up hill every day, only to have the boulder roll down hill every night. Sound familiar?
I recently came across “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!”, an award-winning children’s book by Mo Willems. In this story, a bus driver needs to take a break, so he asks the reader to keep an eye on things until he gets back. His last instruction is: “Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus!” As soon as the driver leaves, an insistent pigeon appears, pleading to be allowed to drive the bus. The pigeon tries many angles: direct (“Hey, Can I drive the bus?”), crafty (“Hey, I’ve got an idea: Let’s play ‘Drive the Bus.’ I’ll go first!”), bribery (“I’ll give you five bucks!”). As the pigeon persists and persists, and begins to enter tantrum territory, the reader gets to hold the line and say “No!” What a great reminder for kids (and adults).
If you are having a hard day and feeling challenged, stressed, burnt out, or self-critical, maybe there is a tree, a flower, a lake, or a patch of sky that you can connect with to remind yourself of your interconnectedness with a wider world.
In April 2011, I was invited to Austin Zen Center to offer a dharma talk and workshop on cultivating self-compassion. You can listen to the talk here.