What is Self-Compassion?
"Be kind to yourself."
We can hear this quite a lot, but what does it actually mean? Being kind to ourselves relates to the act of self-compassion. Before we think about self-compassion, let’s focus our attention to compassion. Compassion is the process of being aware of suffering in others and the drive to do something about that in order to sooth or prevent it. The word compassion may hold different connotations for us.
What is Empathy?
Empathy is our capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position, considering their emotions and experiences.
To get into the other person's shoes, as it is widely known.
Empathy is innate to human beings and it is our neurological response to another person’s emotions. The response to what is felt by another person occurs automatically and often out of our conscious awareness. From an early age we are wired to experience what another person is feeling which provides essential learning cues and marks our successful development.
How our inner critic can affect our relationships.
Being on the receiving end of criticism is never easy. Being criticised probably comes in moments when we feel ourselves most vulnerable - whenever we make mistakes, feel embarrassed or fear disappointing others. Having somebody to judge us about being wrong, foolish or inadequate is very unpleasant and challenging experience for anyone. However, the impact of criticism to different people varies immensely and is based on one major factor - their childhood.
Plato said “opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”
People talk. And we hear. People tend to have opinions about everything and anyone. It doesn’t matter if their opinion is an argument or “just saying”, they will feel entitled to express it and we will fall for it. In other words, many of us tend to see ourselves through other people's eyes. Every day, every moment of it, we feel judged about our looks, how we behave, how smart we are or if we are being good partners or good parents.
There’s something really sad about Christmas.
You can see it in all these commercials with families gathered around the table, blissfully celebrating the festive days with their loved ones, exchanging perfectly-wrapped presents next to shiny Christmas trees, with everyone smiling and feeling so lucky to have each other.
What??? You can’t see it yet?
To give you a hint:
In this “merry” picture, projected through media and social media...
...where are the people who are grieving the loss of a loved one?
...where are the people who can’t spend time with their friends and family because of work?
There is this idea that Inner peace is like a destination, where, upon reaching, you become a brand new person and nothing upsetting or discomforting can get to you anymore. In this “Inner Peace Land” (if we can call it like that), there is no stress or any uncomfortable emotion; there is no conflict, there is no pain, there is no fear. And we even believe that if once something upsetting comes, we will not even blink, due to our “zen” zone that we have successfully acquired.
Reality Check: is there such a place? NO.
Our brain is a wonderful, magical thing. If we would process every impulse from the world around us that comes into our brains one by one, it would be a sure recipe for immediate madness. Fortunately, the brain has developed systems to handle this. For example, if you look at a building, the brain does not think about each individual stone, window and door, but it immediately sees a complete house.
How much of a Perfectionist are you?
This is how I call any challenging situation, any hard time in life, that brings turbulence in my inner -hard-won- balance.
I call it like that not only because it is -objectively- a difficult moment in your life. But mainly because it blows a strong wind inside your mind, it makes you feel you have no shelter to protect yourself, it thunders against all what you have believed and dreamt so far, it pours you into an emotional rollercoaster, and all this you have to fight it by yourself.
It has become something like a habit. To watch the movie "Groundhog Day" every now and then and remind myself of its life-changing message. Besides having a blast just by watching it.
For those who haven't seen it, Phil (Bill Murray) is the weatherman in a local channel and he is assigned to travel to a small town and broadcast the "Groundhog Day", a day when a groundhog "predicts" the weather for the next six weeks, tradition says. Boring, right?
In the past, each December I found myself engaged (sometimes in a frenetic way), determining what my New Year's Resolutions would be.
The first thing I would do is go back to the last year's list and tick all those that have been achieved. Most of the times the result was somewhere between "ok" and "satisfying" and if there are a few unsuccessful resolutions, I just convinced myself that those were not important enough to make it to the final round.
My next step step was to figure out what I wanted for the following year.
The last two years though, my New Year Resolution list is somewhat different.
For some strange reason, I keep asking myself "If you already know where you're heading, why do you need a list"?
Defeating anxiety, stress, negative thoughts, procrastination and fears has never been easy. And it never will be. Not because there is something wrong with us, or because we are doing it the wrong way, but because it is something that indeed requires from us conscious effort, time, practice and a lot of mental energy.
We are actually rewiring our brain: changing the neuron paths existing since childhood which take us a certain way, into a different path, where things happen in a different way and are linked to different thoughts.
Everyone talks about the downside of depression. But is there a good side at all? Anger and stress, for example, can help us adapt to external threat and protect ourselves. But depression? Is there any actual benefit in it?
Depression helps us build stronger relationships.
At some point in our life we experience the pain and grief associated with the loss of a loved one. We feel depressed, our life seems empty, we are stressed, and what seemed interesting in the past, now appears meaningless. This pain makes us understand how close we were to this person and how important they were to our life. it is during this depressive phase that we acknowledge how significant our relationships are to our well-being.
Three weeks on holidays. After an exhausting year of work, work, work. Three books chosen. (Or, let to be chosen.)
1. One from the classics: The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway. (Actually that was a re-read. I first read it during my school years. Different eras, different perspectives, totally different insights.)
2. One from my favorites authors: What I talk when I talk about running, Haruki Murakami. (Or, how a writer can blow your mind, even if he's talking about his running marathons)
3. One from a random pick (someone's suggestions, somewhere in the web): A tale for the time being, Ruth Ozeki. (It turned out to be my first book written by a Zen Buddhist priest which didn't seem at all to be written by a Zen Buddhist priest.)
How Do You Know If You Made The Right Choice?
You don’t, we can never be sure of if we made a right decision. But letting go of the perfectionist inside us and accepting these facts can bring us solace.
This is a story, a pattern which comes up very frequently when discussing with people: we all want to know whether we made the right decision or not. Or we are struggling hard in order to be 100% sure that we will make the right decision in a given upcoming conflicting situation.
One of the most thrilling moments of my career was when I was working with an autistic child. Actually, not much of a child, Carl(*) was 21 years old. His mental age however was closer to that of a 4-5 year old.
His mother told me that from now on he would be my teacher and would teach me how to behave towards him. The short life we would share inside his room for a few hours a week would be the mirror of the bigger life that I have "out there", Interesting concept I thought, and at least a rather challenging assignment.
To start with, one of my goals was to make eye contact with him. Taken for granted? No.
Easy? Not at all.
It seems like an overwhelming - externally imposed - new trend obsession. All we hear or read around us is "How to be happy", "10 ways to be happy", "How to avoid people that are not happy", etc. But what is actually implied between the lines is "Try to be happy, because everyone else is happy, except you, and, actually: What's wrong with you?".
Happiness is moments. Happiness is something circumstantial and is attached to external situations. Something happens, something that you have expected for a long time, or something that you have never expected and it surprises you in a positive way, and Bang! you feel happy. But you cannot make your inner peace dependent from something "unpredictable" like that. You cannot define yourself by being happy or not happy, and be labeled by such an unfair stereotype.
While most people have heard of panic attacks, those who have not experienced it may find it hard to understand how frightening it can be. A panic attack is not just an intense feeling of anxiety, but rather a blast of terror that the brain produces only for truly frightening events. Panic attacks are also often associated with intense physical reactions, which often lead those experiencing them to falsely identify them as a serious health issue. Although they are relatively common, panic attacks are often not fully understood. Many suffer unnecessarily because they are unaware that what they are experiencing is mainly psychological rather than physical and that there is an effective treatment for it.
The first and most important thing to know about panic attacks is that they are not dangerous. Panic attacks are experienced as dangerous because they activate the emergency system in our brain, which thinks us in immediate danger. A bit like placing a fire alarm near a toaster, the security system in our brain releases false alarm during panic attacks.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.