Episode 86 Developing Love And Acceptance Through Self Compassion

Developing Love and Acceptance through Self-compassion and Curiosity

Episode 86

When we open ourselves up to look at the parts of ourselves we don’t like, it can be hard to accept them, let alone come to love that part of who we are. Sometimes we just want to put that unacceptable part of us back in the bottle and pretend we never saw it. But, if we do that, we are denying part of who we are and we stunt our own growth.  Self-compassion can be the answer. It’s a powerful tool, and when we layer curiosity together with compassion, it might just be the very thing you need to move forward. If you’re struggling to find acceptance for yourself or others, this is your episode. 

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Kristin Neffhttps://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/

Episode 42: The Power of Curiosity

January DownloadGetting to Know Yourself

February DownloadCombatting Shame

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Full Transcript

This is the fourth episode in love month. In the Know, Love, Grow series that I’m doing this first three months of 2023.

And this is this Know, Love, Grow Model is a concept that I’ve learned from my mentor Aimee Gianni. And thank you to Aimee for showing up and recording a podcast with me about each of these important words, then no the love and the grow. And you’ll find that podcast episode airs the very first week of each month.

So next week is the first week of March you’ll hear the Grow episode. This Know, Love, Grow model is a model for personal peace, for personal expansion for just be developing a whole and healthy human being. And all of us want that for ourselves. We also want that for for our families. But we have to know how to do that for ourselves before we are ready to help our children and our spouses and anyone else in our family do the same thing for themselves.

January was all about knowing ourselves and knowing others. There were some really great episodes that month. So if you haven’t listened to them, Go listen to them. That’s the beginning. That’s where you want to start. Yes, you could listen to this one. And then you can go back and listen to the others. But they’re going in order for a reason. We are working on this model of knowing ourselves, learning to love and accept the things that we learn about ourselves. And then being able to grow. We’re doing this all the time, and the knowing the loving and the growing. Those things all they interact with each other, they’re not separate from each other. They’re all happening all at the same time.

We’re always in this process of spiraling up of becoming a new, a different version of ourselves. And that’s what we’re here on this earth to do is to learn how to grow and become a new, different version of who we are. But we really need to know who we are. We don’t really know them. So many of us don’t know that.

We’ll say “I’m a child of God.” And yes, that’s true. But that’s just the beginning.

There’s so much more to you. That’s a very basic definition. But there’s so much more than that. So get to know who you are, what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What do you like? What do you want for yourself? What are your wants and desires? What do you want to work towards in your life, we get stuck in believing that we are who other people tell us that we are. But it’s not true. So often that is not true.

We get stuck thinking that we are our habits, or our achievements, or we are our job, or a world a role that we’ve taken in our life. But none of those things are really who we are. If you’re just joining this series, I have a download for you to help you go through this process for yourself.

There’s 30 journaling questions that you can download. This was available in January, but I still have it available now. It helps you you have to go through these questions. It helps you get to know yourself better opens up some questions for you a light some lines of thinking that you maybe have not pursued before. There’s a link in the show notes. You can go and download that.

As you work through these journaling questions, you might feel a little bit off balance, it might kind of throw you for a loop. I know it has been for some people, it can really be hard to ask yourself questions that have to do with who am I and what do I want for myself? To answer those questions. It begins to bring a lot out of you that you may not have not explored before.

Many women, sometimes between the ages of late 30s, around 40, to 50 or so, begin to question who they are, they’re starting to look at their lives. And they’ve spent so many years raising children, giving all of themselves to their children and to their families, and in the thick of those busy, busy years when your kids are home, but then those kids start to leave. And they start to develop lives of their own and have families of their own. And now, that mother, that woman is realizing, wow, I just gave up so much of myself, I forgot who I was, I don’t even know who I am anymore, I kind of lost my identity, and any desires or wants that I had for myself during that time. There are so many women that are in this position. And right now, either you’re saying, Yeah, that’s me, I totally identify with that. Or maybe you’re saying, well, focusing on yourself is selfish, you shouldn’t be focusing on yourself.

Whatever you’re thinking right now, I want to tell you that the more you get in touch with who you are, and what you want and desire for you for yourself, the better you will a be able to show up for the people in your life that you love.

It is not selfish, to spend time figuring out who you are, to spend time figuring out what you want, and what you desire. And who you are. It’s a gift that you give to yourself. And that gift carries over to the other people in your life. So it is not selfish to spend time doing this. I coach people all the time who are trying to make changes in their lives. They have a habit that they want to change or maybe a relationship that’s hard. Sometimes they have goals they want to achieve, and they’re stuck, not really knowing how to get to that goal. But by the time they come to me, there’s usually a certain degree of pain and suffering in their lives. And that’s why they’re seeking out help.

I once had a client a few years ago that I’m going to tell you about, I’ve changed some of the details for privacy reasons. And this this story is Shared with permission just so you know, this client was really struggling and experiencing so much shame for where where she was in her life. And that shame really revolved around her parenting and about around her children.

She raised her children in the LDS church and took to heart the advice and the counsel that she’d received from leaders that you should be giving your all to your children, you should be doing all the things that your we tell you, you should be doing, like attending all your weekly church meetings and serving in the church and serving your ward members. And your children should be attending all of their meetings and all the activities and other things that are available to them. And they should be taking advantage of seminary and the other programs like EFY.

And she was very consistent about having family home evening and family prayer and scripture study. And she said, You know I did all the things that I was told I was supposed to do. I did all of those, and I gave so much energy and time to doing those things. And she was feeling like if I do these things, then I’m doing this. So my children will stay active in the church, they will have a testimony, they will be safe from so many outside influences that we are finding these days.

And when she came to me, she said all of her children who were now all young adults, had left the church. None of them had served missions. None of them had chosen to marry in the temple. And some of them even had quite a bit of anger towards the church and towards her and her husband for raising them in the church. They felt like they had been hurt by some of the teachings there. And even beyond that her children were choosing lives outside the church and making choices outside the teachings and advice and counsel of the church. Their life’s choices reflected that.

And this client of mine was feeling a lot of feels shame, failure, confusion, sadness, hopelessness, just to name a few. So are some big feelings that can cause some big problems for you if you don’t know how to deal with them. So why was she feeling all of these things? Well, she had heard that if all of her life that if she did these things, all those things that I listed before that if she put in all that effort, she didn’t have to worry her kids would be safe, her family would be safe. And she believed that, that if she did those things that her family would be safer children would be safe.

And she put in so much effort to do those things. And how she saw it. When we started meeting together. That did not happen for her. She did all those things, but her family was not safe. Her kids were not safe. They were choosing to leave the safety of the gospel and the path of that was outlined there. Which means that she must have done something wrong. She had failed. Somewhere along the line, it must have been something she had done that had caused it. She wasn’t good enough. She wasn’t a good enough mother, she wasn’t a good enough disciple of Christ.

She wasn’t a good enough church member. In fact, she was looking around at her family and France and comparing her life to theirs, comparing her family to theirs. And she the way she thought she was the only one that was experiencing these things that she could see. So the problem had to be her. She was the problem. And that brought up shame, failure, confusion, sadness, and hopelessness. This client was taking a look at herself, not liking what she was seeing. And by the time she came to me, she was knee deep in shame and failure.

She could not find her way out of it. In fact, her entire life was being filtered through this lens of that perceived failure and shame. And this was a woman who had achieved a lot in her life, she had dedicated her life to her family and her children. And she had beyond that she had achieved some pretty remarkable things in other parts of her life. But all she could see was shame and failure.

Now you have been lately, I’ve been using this word shame a lot. And I think that’s a hard word for most people to put their finger on, and a hard word for people to hear. We don’t like to take a look at that. We don’t want to even admit that it’s their shame really says, There’s something wrong with me, I’m not as good as everybody else. And it leads us to hide, we hide the details of ourselves and of our lives. We hide from God, we literally begin pulling away from God and from other people. We’re afraid they might see our shame. And we tell ourselves that we’re really not worthy to be around them.

Want you to think about Adam and Eve in the garden. They partook of the fruit. And then they heard that God was coming down. And what’s the first thing that Satan told them? He said, Oh, you need to go and hide. He introduced shame into this world.

Shame doesn’t come from God. It comes from Satan. And we are when we’re looking at things in our lives. And we’re trying to figure out what’s good is this. I don’t know how to judge this thing. We need to look at the fruits that we find from this thing, right? Is this something that’s from God? Or is it something that’s not because the Scriptures tell us to look at fruits and God gives us things that have good fruit that come from them. Shame tells us to hide it is not from God, it does not produce good fruits, it is from Satan.

We all have shame. Every single one of us No one escapes this life without experiencing shame. Without this thought of there’s something wrong with me and I’m not good enough. And when we get into times like this in our lives it like up like I was describing from this client, it is so easy to fall into shame. And in fact, if you download those 30 journaling questions in that January download that you’ll find in the show notes, there is a possibility that it could bring up some shame for you. So that leads me to February’s free download, which is to help you combat that shame. You’re also going to find a link for that in the show notes. These are two helpful worksheets to use together. And this is the space where this client came to me. She was full of shame, feeling like a failure.

The things I’ll outline in this podcast are just some of the things that we used as we work together to help her release that shame and begin moving forward. So I hope some of these things can also help you know.

We have parts of us that we love. And we just shine there. We’re so happy to show those parts of ourselves to others and to acknowledge them to ourselves. We also have parts of us that we don’t love and that we want to push down and hide. We want to hide them from ourselves. We want to hide them from other people the we don’t feel like these parts of me are not acceptable. And I need, I don’t want to look at them. You know what, in order to really know ourselves, we have to open ourselves up to both of those, we have to open ourselves up to the parts of us that we love.

And the parts of us that are not so pretty to look at, if we’re not looking at the whole person, we’re not really looking and knowing ourselves. But all of us are made up of both of those pieces, both of those parts. And when we judge ourselves harshly from those parts that we don’t like, we block ourselves from the very thing that we need to be able to move forward.

So often, we think that in order for us to be better, we need to be super hard on ourselves, we tell ourselves:

“Well, if I’m not hard on myself, I’ll let myself slide.”

“I need to be better, so I’m going to have to beat myself up to do that.”

This is a really, really natural way of thinking. And it seems to make sense on the surface.

But it’s actually that judgment that doesn’t allow us to grow.

I want you to think of a time when someone was really hard on you. Maybe it was a parent, maybe it was a teacher, or a friend. And this person was telling you, you’re not measuring up, get your act together, you need to try harder. How did you feel? Did it give you the energy to try when someone was saying those kinds of things to you. If it did produce effort to try harder, it probably came from from one of these two places, from a place of fear of, if I don’t do this, I’m not going to be acceptable anymore. If I don’t, they won’t like me, if I don’t fix this, I’m going to be in trouble.

Or it could have been from a place of scarcity, that in scarcity says I’m not good enough now. And they’re just trying to help me be good enough so that then I can be accepted. But neither of these lines of thinking produce true growth, they actually make it much harder to grow. And they both perpetuate this idea that we’re not good enough, and not acceptable the way that we are. So we have to fix ourselves.

I want you to think of a time where someone believed in you. And they were very kind. And they inspired you to believe in yourself. And maybe this was a parent, a teacher or a friend. And they said things like, you are so amazing. I know you can do this. Or maybe they said something like,

“I love you just the way you are right now you don’t have to change for me to love you. But I see that you want to go for that thing. I know you can do it.”

When someone talks to you that way you don’t act from emotions like fear or scarcity. You act from a place of worthiness and wholeness. It’s a totally different way of taking action and of experiencing our own lives. I’m going to give you some self compassion, exercises that you can do.

And this is taken from Kristin Neff’s website. Kristin Neff is a self compassion expert. And you’ll find a link to her website in the show notes as well. And if you want to dive further into self compassion, go to her website. She has some excellent resources there.

So the first one is to take a step back.

Ask yourself, what would you say to a person that you dearly love? That is struggling with the same thing that you’re struggling with? How would you talk to them? Would you be the person that verbally beats them up and shames them for how they were feeling? No, you wouldn’t. You would say something like, this does not define you. You are an amazing, wonderful person. And you’re also human. And humans are all imperfect. And that’s how we’re supposed to be. I love you and it’s all okay. If you were to say this to someone, how do you think they would feel? Well, I think they would feel loved and cared for. And I think they would feel safe with me. When we feel loved cared for and safe. We allow ourselves to calm down.

We’re not reacting from fear and scarcity. We think more clearly, we don’t try to hide and sweep things under a rug. We’re actually more likely to say to ourselves, you’re right. I’m a good person. And I’m a good human. I might not like this part of myself. But I have the ability to work on this and I don’t have to stay here but I’m not doing it so I can be more worthy. Doing it because As I love me, and I care about me. So that’s the first thing you can do.

Here’s another one.

Sit down and write yourself a letter from a place of acceptance and compassion. I like to use journaling prompts for this. And here are just some you can come up with your own. But here’s an example for you.

I’m sorry for…

I forgive you for…

I admire you because…

I love you, because…

Just start journaling and write yourself a letter, a place where you love, accept yourself, you love and accept yourself. And you do that with compassion.

Another thing you can do is change your critical self talk.

Have you ever noticed how critical you are in your inside your own head? Why do you think your brain has such negative things that it says to you? Did you know that your brain is actually programmed to be critical of you? Not very nice, right? This is part of our survival brain.

We’re programmed to connect with others and be part of a tribe. Humans are tribal beings. If we aren’t accepted by the tribe, our brains think that we’re going to die. So it wants to point out to us all the ways that we’re not measuring up, or that we think that we aren’t measuring up so that we will pay attention to them, fix them. And now we will be accepted, and we will survive longer.

It’s all about survival, as long as possible. We really need to pay attention to the thoughts that are happening inside of our brains. And so many of us are not aware that this is even happening. We think our brains are just pointing out truth to us. This is just the way I am no, I am a terrible person, I am a failure. Right? Because we don’t know how to see the world any differently than our brains are telling us how to see it. We think that the way that we’re seeing thing is the truth.

But we all have blind spots. And we have huge blind spots when it comes to ourselves. Our brains just filter out so much, so much information out of pure necessity, because we literally can’t take in all that stimulus around us. So we see a handful of facts that exist in our world, in our lives. And our brain is constantly trying to make sense of those facts. But those facts never tell the whole story. There’s always gaps in between them.

And our brains don’t like incomplete stories. So it goes and it fills in the gaps in between those facts. And it tells us that that is a true story. Often, most of the time, it’s not true. Our brains do this with ourselves, mostly. But it also does this with other people and other things. So how does our brain decide what story to fill the gaps with? Most of the time, the filter that it’s running these things through? Is the filter of this? What does this mean about me?

Now remember, the brain is trying to keep us alive. And it does that most effectively. When it’s pointing out negative things. It doesn’t mean what your brain is telling you is true about you or anyone else. It just means that this is how your brain is deciding how to interpret what is happening. This is what we call the inner narrator. Have you ever noticed that inner narrator that talks to you all day long all the time, it hangs out inside your head saying all sorts of unkind things about you and about other people. That’s the inner narrator.

How do you start to change that dialogue? First, you slow down and you notice it, you are aware of the thoughts that are happening inside your head, you have to be mindful to do this, you have to pay attention to what your brain is saying. And when especially when it’s going to the negative during the day, which it does quite often. You then start to challenge those thoughts. And you say maybe this isn’t true. Maybe I’m not seeing the whole picture here. Is it possible something else could be true and I just don’t see it.

We can talk back to this inner Narrator We can say:

“I’m choosing today to be kind and compassionate towards myself. I’m human. And of course I make mistakes because humans make mistakes. I’m just human.”

We can say:

“It’s okay, it’s totally okay. I’m doing the best that I can.”

Have you noticed? This is kind of crazy. Have you noticed how often your brain brings up your past things that you fell that that are things that you think that you fail that? You know that thing that stupid thing you did in eighth grade? Or maybe there’s something that you now know that you should would have paid attention to 20 or 30 years ago. And if you had, then your life would be different now. Yeah, our brains want to remind us of those things all the time. It’s not very nice.

When this happens to me, I like to remind myself, nope, not going there, I’m just doing the best I can. I did the best, then that I knew how to do. But back then I didn’t have the same information that I do now. And I refuse to judge my past self with my present knowledge. You can talk to your brain more than you listen to your brain. And as you begin to put this into practice on purpose, your inner dialogue will begin to be less harsh, to be more kind. But just a warning, you will always have a human brain as long as you are alive.

So we never totally get away from this, we just learn how to handle it.

So this is another self compassion technique – we start questioning that negative self talk that inner narrator.

Here’s another one, start a self compassion journal.

Do you remember Oprah’s gratitude journal? Well, this is super similar, you’ll keep a self compassion journal, will you where you’re going to write down some of the difficult things in your day, you begin to process them through a lens of self compassion. It’s really helpful to remind ourselves that human beings experience suffering, everyone suffers. It’s part of the human experience, and you are not alone. And suffering is hard. So be kind to yourself, be kind to others.

We never know what someone else is going through. And others really never know what we are going through. So keep a journal that allows you to write all these things down where you can process your own suffering your own heart. When you allow yourself to see this, it opens up your heart to others, and you begin to show more kindness and compassion automatically to other people.

Now, curiosity, is a really helpful emotion. In fact, I’ve done a whole podcast episode on curiosity. It’s episode 42, called The Power of curiosity. So if you’re interested in listening to a whole podcast on that one, go to that there’s a link in the show notes.

When we become curious from a place of love, and compassion, we put ourselves in a place that we can begin to learn. We find out information, we get to learn more about ourselves, and more about others. I want you to imagine what curiosity might look like without first developing some self compassion usually ends up feeling I’m sounding pretty judgmental. So that’s not really effective if we’re judging ourselves or someone else.

So we want to layer it with self compassion. And we can leave the judgment behind. And we can ask ourselves questions like:

“Why do I always react this way when I get into this situation? I wonder why I do that.”

“I wonder why my, my son is doing this right now. What’s going on for him? I wonder what he’s thinking. Maybe I should ask him. I wonder if I asked him what he would say.”

Or “This is so interesting. I’m just going to watch and observe this right now. This is fascinating.”

“I wonder if I could do something different right now. I usually react this way. But what if I didn’t this time? What if I reacted differently?”

“Wow, this my daughter, she’s really in a negative place right now. It must be so hard to be that negative in your life. I wonder why that’s happening for her.”

We can approach situations like we’re a scientist gathering information will absolutely leave all judgment behind. What do I see? What do I learn from this person from this situation? For myself? When I’m a scientist, that leaves all the judgment behind when we first apply self compassion, and then we layer on some curiosity, that is a super powerful combination.

But this doesn’t happen just because we say, “Hey, I’m going to be really self compassionate and curious today.” If we just say that without any effort or work behind it, it’s probably not going to happen.

So we have to really work at creating both self compassion and curiosity. Take some of those. Take some of those exercises from Kristin Neff. To get yourself to a place of have self compassion. And then curiosity starts to happen a little more easily once we’re in self compassion.

These are skills that we practice intentionally. If you try this and you think it’s hard, that’s okay. It’s not supposed to be easy, because if it were easy, I wouldn’t need to do a whole podcast episode on this. So expect it to be hard, just like any other skill you’re learning how to do. And you will allow yourself to not be really great at it in the beginning. This is like that. As you practice it, you’re gonna get better and it will feel more natural to you.

So here’s some things I want you to take away today:

Self Compassion can neutralize things that are hard to accept about ourselves, and others and the situations that we really don’t like in our lives.

Curiosity without compassion can easily lead to judgment. Judgment will keep us from from moving forward.

Acceptance for all of those human imperfect parts of us bridges that gap between knowing who we are and being able to grow and change.

If you find you’re judging other people harshly you’re probably judging yourself harshly too. We can’t give others what we don’t know how to give ourselves. So if you want to be less judgmental of others, begin with yourself.

Okay, go to the show notes. Download those free those two free downloads for January and February. They’re still available. I’ll have a new one for you in March.

March reminder is grow month of the Know, Love, Grow Model right. And my guess that is that this is probably the part that you’ve been waiting for. The no and the love might have been difficult and you’re like just get me to the grow. I just want to go there.

We have to create this foundation first though, so don’t miss March’s episodes. I’ve got some really great episodes in store for you. And a brand new download to help me start that grow part of this process.

Have a great week and I will see you next time.