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Let It In

Do you ever find yourself being the one who watches?

Or maybe the one who holds the bags while everyone else rides the rollercoaster?

How about the person whose happiness comes from looking at beautiful pictures of places they’ve never been?

Sometimes – this is me. And that’s ok. I usually play it safe, and think of all the reasons why not. Why I don’t deserve it. Why I haven’t worked hard enough for it. Why it’s a pipe dream. Why it could never happen because my family has bad luck. But yesterday while I was journaling I thought to myself, “Why?”… What is my Why? Hmmm…. Thought provoking…. I know.

Why have I never done yoga? Why don’t I travel to all of those places I am planning to travel to “one day”? Why do I not dance more? Why do I care what I look like at the gym? Why am I spending so much time wondering why?

It’s important sometimes to reflect on what we spend our time thinking about, worrying about, and stressing about. I often feel as though we spend so much time focused on the things we can’t change, the upgrades, the loud, the negative, the sadness, and the worrisome that we forget to let in the good, the graceful, the calm, the quiet, and the beautiful.

I am fascinated by the grandest things in the world – the places, the sights, the sounds, the cultures. It’s all so beautiful but it’s not something that I generally let myself experience. I find myself watching others go to these places, experience these things, and let it all in. Do you see yourself doing this too?

Well, now is as good of a time as any with the New Year upon us to decide to let it all in.

Instead of focusing on how stressed we are or how worried we are, we can embrace those parts of ourselves and focus on the things that pull us out of those dark places. For me, it’s the pictures of the Northern Lights, the rocks in Sedona, and the beautiful retreats in the mountains of Colorado – I want them to be more than just pictures of places I’ll never see. I want to dance more than just dancing by the chair when I’m around the people I know. I want to focus on being comfortable and practical instead of stressing about what to wear working out. So I vow at this moment, to let it in. Even when I’m sad, or scared, or lonely, or worried, or stressed, or angry, or confused or any other normal emotion… I want to let one beam of light shine through. I want to remind myself that I AM THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO DECIDE WHAT TO LET IN! I am ready to let it in! Will you join me?

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Practicing Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is a positive self-view that involves relating to oneself with kindness and acceptance in times of difficulty. Rather than criticizing, you look at your situation with compassion. Practicing self-compassion doesn’t have to be hard, it’s just a matter of making small shifts in thinking.

What is Self-Compassion and How Can It Increase Self-Esteem?

Practicing self-compassion can increase your self-esteem and health. Self-compassion is different from self-esteem but both are needed to develop a strong sense of self-worth. Self-esteem is how we see ourselves and what we think about ourselves, self-compassion is more about how we treat ourselves.

3 Essential Pieces to Self-Compassion to Increase Self-Esteem:

1.  Being kind to one’s self

This means understanding, not punishing yourself. What would you say to a friend or loved one in your position? It involves comforting yourself.

2.  Sense of common humanity

We are all human and make mistakes; no one is perfect, neither am I. Self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone, even though it sometimes feels that way.

3.  Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment; having awareness of your feelings and thoughts in the moment. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our morning shower.

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Research on self-compassion shows that people who are compassionate to themselves are much less likely to be depressed, anxious, and stressed. They are much more likely to be happy, resilient, healthy and optimistic about their future; they have better mental health. Leading researcher in self-compassion and author Kristin Neff, Ph.D., is an associate professor in human development and culture at the University of Texas, Austin. She is the author of the book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind. Neff says that people may think that being kind to yourself makes you less motivated. Actually the opposite is true. The harder you are on yourself the more your body attacks yourself, both mentally and physically.

This is explained in this fantastic TED talk video:

10 Simple Ways to Start Practicing Self-Compassion to Increase Self-Esteem

  1. Hug yourself or someone you love (it releases oxytocin the chemical that makes you feel connected and loved).
  2. Get a massage or practice self-care.
  3. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can in this very moment.
  4. Talk to yourself like you would to a young child or pet when you’ve made a mistake.
  5. Spend time with people who are supportive and kind to you.
  6. Say no to others when you need to take care of yourself or feel like you are getting sick.
  7. Ask for company to come over if you are feeling lonely.
  8. Eat warm foods, it activates a feeling of comfort (hot tea or warm milk also work).
  9. Tell yourself that you are loved.
  10. Call a friend or family member who is supportive to help you see another side of the situation if you are in a crisis or stuck in a negative thinking cycle.

Remember, you more than anyone deserves kindness and respect. Self-compassion starts with YOU!

 

 

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