It’s funny as I plan todays podcast on: The A.R.T. of Self Compassion I did a little search on my own site to see if I’d written much about self compassion. I thought I had. I know I’ve discussed it a lot in my podcast interviews these past few months.
However, it seems prior to that I’d written A LOT about Self Control and Self Sabotage yet not at all about Self Compassion.
Un-surprisingly it’s a “to work on” for me!
Almost a year ago I got my first tattoo, “Ahimsa” across my wrist. I LOVE the word which means: Non-violence, no harm to all living beings, compassion – including compassion for yourself. I LOVE LOVE my little tattoo however although I really don’t need a reminder to show compassion to animals, perhaps I need even more of a reminder to show compassion to ME!
If you can relate then todays show is for both of us! I’m getting my acronym on again however before we get rolling I want to share an important consideration that lead me to choose the “ART” part of The A.R.T. of Self Compassion.
Contrary to my experience studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Painting and Drawing (20 years ago!) with Art I strongly believe there’s no right or wrong.
Rather it’s a matter of what works for you. What makes YOU happy. What leaves you refreshed, refocused, hopeful and ready to tackle that which is most important to you.
Now let’s get ready to build our self compassion muscle and get our acronym on!
Awareness is always the first step. Often we don’t know the extent to which we could improve our skill at self compassion until it’s pointed out. Either by a helpful coach, friend, family member or sadly more often by an unhelpful event.
Here are a couple of questions to consider asking yourself:
“Would I talk to my mum, my sister, my best friend the way I talk to myself?”
“Do I treat my body like we’re on the same team and it’s the ONLY team I’ll ever be on and THE ONLY chance I’ll ever get?
Or, do I treat it like an easily replaceable machine or an enemy I feel no respect or empathy for?”
R is for 2 things… Yes, I’m cheating (!) get ready for it as T is for 3 things… as I tell my lovely, loyal, long suffering group training clients: “Don’t try to understand – it’s Kate Logic!”
R.OUTINE and R.ELEASE.
As much as an awareness of where you can improve your self compassion is initially compelling – to make the habit stick it needs to become part of your Routine.
You likely assumed I’d go here – so I won’t disappoint – here 3 non-negotiables I recommend prioritizing in your self compassion routine:
- Quality fuel.Weekly meal prep makes this easier on you. I know that might not sound exciting however what could possibly be a more impactful way to show compassion than the fuel you feed your body? It’s a chance to say “I care and I want the best for you” to your body. If you think that sounds bonkers – well – why would you ever send your body the message “I don’t care and I don’t want the best for you”?!
- Consistent exercise. Exercise has the potential to be a super positive form of selfish, precious and compassionate YOU time. I strongly suggest you hunt down the form of exercise you find enjoyable because that is the kind you’ll be able to stick to. Lock it into a weekly training plan of non-negotiable appointments with yourself. For most of us, we’ll do even better if at least some of that weekly exercise time is spent outdoors. There’s something truly refreshing about time spent in nature, I guess because that’s closer to how with evolved as opposed to the sedentary and artificial environment we now spend so much time stuck in.
- Quality sleep. Again this is nothing new however it’s absolutely vital. I’m sure you’ll recognize that you function more effectively and efficiently with enough quality sleep? Conversely insufficient sleep feeds the cycle of poor food choices, skipped exercise and less efficient and effective functioning.
So far as the 2nd R, Release? This is something I’m working on right now. It relates to the things that each of us have taken on and made to mean more than they should in a detrimental way. Things we need to release. Things that as a person skilled in the The A.R.T. of Self Compassion we’d let go because (now) we realize they are no longer serving us.
I guess by “things” I mean limiting beliefs. And these could be beliefs about yourself or about other individuals or society in general. Perhaps:
- “All boys are bastards!”I held that for almost a decade as an effective strategy to stop myself from getting hurt however it also stopped me from getting close to all the boys who ARE NOT bastards! To move away from me….
- “Prioritizing exercise and food prep is selfish / vain / self indulgent / superficial.”
- “I’m just not a natural exerciser. I have a slow metabolism. I’m meant to be fat.”
- “I don’t have the time / energy / money to invest in my health right now.” Moving on, as I said T is for 3 things…
T.ALK (Self) and THE GREATER GOOD and TRACKING.
The most important conversation you engage is, is that with yourself – your Self Talk (talk self works better for my acronym though!). As I shared with a dear client this week who had fallen into the habit of calling herself an “oompa loompa” your unconscious mind is always listening.
Once you bring about an awareness to your Self Talk in step one then it’s a matter of:
- Consciously reframing any negative talk you’re already in the habit of to something A LOT more supportive and,
- Consciously seeking out opportunities to focus on what you do well.
The Greater Good is a filter I apply to my actions when I’m feeling uncertain as to whether I can justify them right now. Examples are the best way to illustrate this. Perhaps:
- You have huge work day ahead of you and are tempted to skip your morning exercise session and get a “head start” on your emails? Absolutely you could convince yourself this is the more diligent choice. However honestly – for the greater good – is this the long term strategy that will see you fit, strong, happy and healthy? Because once you O-kay skipping today it’s soon much easier to skip tomorrow and the day after and those emails? You’ll never get them all done anyway!
- You’re at a family gathering and your mum / brother / grandma has prepared that dessert you always loved as a kid and is super insistent you dig in. Sure it’s not aligned with your beliefs now as an ethical vegan or your health goal however what difference does one slice of cream laden pavlova really make? And you don’t want to appear rude or ungrateful or turn this pleasant family occasion into a huge ethical discussion. For the greater good – I believe you can avoid both the dessert and the discussion. A polite yet firm: “Thank you so very much I really appreciate the effort and it looks amazing however that’s not something I eat anymore” means you’re staying true to your values and teaching the people you love that you won’t be swayed by emotional blackmail.
Tracking is a way to pick the patterns so far as your self compassion or more-so lack there of. My recommendation here is to track the things you do in a week that illustrate a lack of self compassion and then notice the pattern or trigger that led to that choice. Perhaps:
- You sleep in rather than walking to walk after staying up late on a Netflix marathon.NOTE: For The Greater Good I would class sleeping in as a lack of self compassion. You’re tracking the choice to sleep in rather than walk to work and the trigger was staying up late watching Netflix.
- Or maybe the trigger before that Netflix marathon was staying at work too late doing unsatisfying, unpaid extra work because you’re no good at saying NO. Then you feel resentful and stay up late to feel like you got at least a bit of YOU time. For The Greater Good, saying NO to someone else often means you can say Yes to you, and to your goals / health / happiness.
I guess in summary so far as building your self compassion muscle it really does come back to awareness. To knowing what works for YOU. What makes YOU happy. What leaves you refreshed, refocused, hopeful and ready to tackle that which is most important to you.
Because sometimes you do need to be good at Self Control. And often you do need to fight Self Sabotage. In part self compassion also means knowing when it’s not the right time to muscle on through with relentless self control and also when it’s not the right time to give in to limiting self sabotage.
I think that A.R.T. is something we get better at with age and with practice. I’m finding I look to others to model the ways they seem to embrace self compassion and also observe the actions of self compassion lacking anti-mentors!
To get actionable today, is there someone in your life who models self compassion really well?
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The Healthification podcast is proudly bought to you by my FREE ‘Easy Vegan’ plan. It took me 25 years to transition from a meat eater to a happy, healthy Vegan! You can do it in just 3 days with my simplified ‘easy vegan’ plan! Get the fit, strong, and healthy plant based body you deserve… while avoiding ALL the mistakes I made along the way!
Till next time, remember Creating a body and life you love is Freedom. (If this ex-carb queen, non genetically gifted, naturally uncoordinated vegan chick can do it – so can YOU!!!)
If you liked “The A.R.T. of Self Compassion” you’ll also like: Your Ego And Self Sabotage
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