If you don’t care for yourself, how do you expect to care for others
Learning to show compassion to yourself,
One of the lessons I learned in life is that we are raised to become critical and judgmental of ourselves and others. From the time we are very young we are inundated with messaging, values, morals, expectations and rules on how we need to act, behave, feel, and learn within our lives. Don’t believe me?
When babies are little, we try to train them on a routine of sleeping and eating on intervals.
At two years old, we scold them for touching other children to hard, saying no, and wanting to do things their own way.
At four years old, we teach them to “sit here”, “line up here”, “don’t say that”, “don’t run away”, and set times to eat, take naps, and learn.
At six years old, we teach our children about following more rules, learning to play socially and on our teams, encouraging them to read, learn math, and explore all on our terms. Do you see where I am heading?
But it is part of the culture. So, I am not bashing the way we raise our children. I am just painting a picture.
is a skill that we often forget to teach children. Instead, they are often encouraged to feel shame when they are not adapting or following expectations are laid out for them. Many parents I speak to want their children to show empathy, remorse for their actions, and guilt for harming others. They use negative discipline tactics such as timeouts, spanking, scolding, and restrictions as a way to encourage them to learn how to improve their behavior and understand the consequences. However, these interventions can be effective in the moment but it does not always help children learn how to manage shame.
In my words, SHAME occurs when children, youth and adults internalize their behavior, their actions, and their feelings and begin to believe that their behavior is a result of their internal personality and self-worth. Shame is a powerful protector of one’s identity, but it is also their downfall. Shame makes it difficult for us to heal, to identify our need for change, to seek help and guidance, and to improve our experiences. Shame prevents us from feeling compassion for ourselves, and in turn we begin to internalize shame and restrict ourselves from love, support, guidance, growth and so much more.
You are not bad, you are a perfect creation from the creator.
I stay grounded and free from shame by spending time in the universe. I sit I watch. I look at the sky, and see how perfect it is and wonder how did it start, why did it start, and does it ever end? How do the clouds know when to form? How does the earth know how fast to spin? How does the water know where the shoreline begins? How does the rainbow know when to shine? Science yes, but miraculous. The way that animals, insects, fish and all living things know how to procreate, how to gather resources to live, how to detect danger, how to sustain life. How does this all happen? The beauty is that it happens. So why am I not beautiful? If a tiny spec has value to our planet, why don’t I have value? And within my value, what brings me joy? What brings you joy?
Record the reasons why the world, our universe contains beauty? What are some of the wonders that you can not understand with reason, just faith?
Record the reasons why the people in your life and those you see are beautiful? What makes people unique? What makes them beautiful? What can bring people pain? What can bring them away from their purpose in life?
Record the reasons why you are beautiful? I am not just speaking about physical beauty, but also internal, spiritual, mental and emotional? What do other people see in you that is beautiful? What brings you joy? What has caused you pain? If you struggle to see your beauty, why do you think this exists? This is SHAME. Describe your experience of shame.
Another intervention I share with others is listening to Brene Brown’s work on Shame. Her video: Listening to Shame is one of my favorite video highlights on understanding shame.
Putting yourself first…
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”- Marianne Williamson
Take in this quote. Are you living your best life through allowing yourself to shine?
Start with DOING and CARING for your inner and outer self. Take time to breathe. Notice your body and how it feels. Fill your mind with loving words and compassionate gestures. LEARN more about yourself, your emotions, your behaviors and thoughts. Understand what thoughts and beliefs you hold impact how you feel about yourself. Understand the root of some of your emotions, such as anger, frustration,
embarrassment and joy AND understand how you behave and how you think. FIND joy in engaging in activities that demonstrate your strengths, build your resiliency and connect you with your identity.
PRACTICE showing compassion towards others, by LISTENING to others and truly seeking to relieve their distress, MANAGE your own defensiveness and need to protect yourself by focusing on supporting another person on their journey, and FORGIVE others for their failures, mistakes, and emotions which often become out of control. After all, we are all born to manifest greatness, but SHAME can convince us that we are not.
I love the way Thich Nnat Hanh speaks and how he describes showing compassion to others. By compassionate listening, you relieve someone’s distress in a way that helps to reduce their feelings of shame and your projection of your internal shame onto others. Please see the entire clip from Oprah’s Soul Sunday:
Brene Brown encourages the use of empathy and vulnerability as critical parts of the journey around addressing our experiences of shame. Empathy is a skill that focuses on connection. Empathy is more than just understanding a person’s experiences and showing sympathy. It is connecting without judgement. It is sitting with a person in their pain and not trying to fix it, repair it, change it, protect them, etc., but allowing them to pass through this portion of their journey knowing they are not alone. This was a special highlight to my own personal journey, when my life was at its most difficult. I remember reading the Footsteps poem and imagining I was being carried through my difficult journey, because in that moment, I needed to be carried through it.
Empathy extends to yourself, as much as it does for other people. Brene Brown on Empathy
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”