This Journey Together

I have had a few days of frustrating myself. I have not been ‘all there’ in Zumba or yoga. Not sure if it is the stress of puppy parenthood, the change of seasons, my bum arm, or the fact that I am 64. Probably a combination. Whatever the cause, I have not been up to par.

Then, I have noticed lapses in visual attention. Details are getting by me. Of course, we all know what that is. Whether I know the reason or not, it is irritating. I am frustrated with myself. I should know better. I should do better. I should do more.

Since I am back to teaching emotional regulation in DBT, I have been back to doing a little research. (I don’t like to do the same presentation every time since several of our students are ‘repeat customers’.) It appears DBT and a little thing called self-compassion therapy have some overlaps.

Self-compassion, or lack thereof, has to do with how people respond to themselves during a struggle or challenging time. According to Wikipedia, my ever reliable (I hope) source, self-compassion is positively correlated with life satisfaction, wisdom and emotional resilience among other things. Self-compassion has been found to be negatively correlated with rumination while rumination has been found to be positively correlated with anxiety, depression and eating disorders. (Aldao et al, 2010). In other words, cutting yourself a break means you won’t be as depressed, anxious or have as many really maladaptive eating habits.

Neff, a big name in self-compassion, postulated there are three parts to be considered. These are as follows: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness (of course!). Looking at the explanations in Wikipedia, I discovered self-compassion involves observing the situation in a non-judgmental way and accepting it is what it is. Observe, accept, non-judgmentally. Hmmmm….where have I heard that before? 😎

It appears rather than be frustrated and criticize myself, I might accept as my body and eyesight deteriorate I am not going to be able to do what I once could. Rather than berate myself I might commiserate, encourage and be a friend to myself. If you had a friend who gets on your case as much as you get on your own case, would you keep her around? Doubt it.

Common humanity goes back to a guy name Siddhartha Gautama. Also known as the Buddha, the enlightened one. The Buddha declared that life is pain. This is the common condition of man. In other words, you are not alone. If misery loves company, you have a lot of it!

Of course, the Buddha also said pain becomes suffering only when we wish to escape it (very loose interpretation there). That takes us back to observe and accept. (See the Four Noble Truths if you want to understand it more thoroughly.)

Mindfulness! I get a little crazy with all the hype and would get crazier if it did not work so well. Mindfulness is derived from Vipassana, which means to see things as they truly are. It is a nonjudgmental observation of what is. Seeing what is truly there, suggests acceptance, warts and all.

So we have come full circle again. Self compassion: slightly different packaging of some wonderful, tried and true ideas. What it boils down to is this: see yourself for what you are, accept yourself, be your own best friend and remember, we are on this journey together.

Namaste (just felt the need to add that!)

written December 10th, 2017

Next: Broken China

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