Friday, November 21, 2014

Cultivating Compassion

h/t Daring Greatly by Dr. Brene Brown
Compassion is a key part of the holidays.  My mailbox is already overflowing with information about suffering and a call to action.  The homeless, veterans, orphans in Africa, are just a few of the very worthy causes that deliver their materials when we are primed for generosity.  It feels wonderful to come into contact with a cause that speaks straight to our heart.

It feels incredible to experience that visceral sensation which energizes and stirs us to think "I can do something about this!" The combined strength of hope and compassion is powerful.

This post is strategically being delivered now because your compassion is needed for an incredibly worthy cause.  There is a struggle that is universal, it cuts across the lines of race, religion, gender, and socioeconomics (to name a few).  The epidemic is SHAME and none of us have complete immunity to its impact on our lives.

Sociologist Dr. Brene Brown identifies shame as ultimately the fear of disconnection. If they (family, work, neighbors, teachers) really knew how inadequate or flawed we are, they wouldn't accept or love us. We can identify the symptoms of shame when we experience a mistake, a misstep, or critical feedback and our internal response is "I am bad, I am not good enough, I can't talk about it." Shame feeds on the darkness of our internal thoughts and if left unchecked it will ruin our self worth and creativity.

Brown has identified the TOP TWELVE SHAME CATEGORIES:

  1. Appearance and Body Image
  2. Money and Work
  3. Motherhood/Fatherhood
  4. Family
  5. Parenting
  6. Mental and Physical Health
  7. Addiction
  8. Sex
  9. Aging
  10. Religion
  11. Surviving Trauma
  12. Being Stereotyped or Labeled
Find any of these categories familiar?  Good.  Recognizing your hot topics for shame is part of building resilience-- your "bounce back" from the spiral of negative messages toward yourself.

The immunity boost for shame is compassion- self compassion.  It involves recognizing the message that says you are not enough and fighting back.  The holiday season has officially begun and many events and experiences will rub right up against these shame categories.

Are you getting that visceral sensation that fills you with energy and stirs you to think "I can do something about this!"?  I hope so . . . because you can.

Practice self compassion when you catch yourself thinking:

"I'm not__________ (thin, organized, dressed well, ...) enough" before company comes over.
"I don't have enough ____________(money, time, energy, ...) to make this holiday special."
"What will people think when they see my _____________________(house, family, dinner, ...)?"

Do you hear the suffering? Can you relate?
Self compassion is speaking the reassurance that you would share with a beloved friend:

"Your company is coming to visit you, not your dress size or your outfit."
"Good for you for inviting people over, you look great."
"Gifts are not about how much you spend or the number of cards you send out."
"The holidays are about gathering- not about to do lists."

YOU are the biggest agent of change in the war against shame.  This season start or renew a commitment to self compassion. Be a beloved friend to yourself.