Let’s Redefine Valentine’s Day…let’s focus on loving ourselves.

This week at Community Chocolate we redefined Valentine’s Day  and created a sweet reminder to stay compassionate with ourselves.   Here is this weeks recap with shared answers from the women in our community!

“Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love.”

2015-02-10 20.36.33It’s a slogan that we might expect to find in a yoga studio or at a holistic healing retreat.  But actually, it’s the marketing campaign that greeted me as I walked into Whole Foods this week to buy some groceries.

It sort of caught me off guard and made me think…if a major market chain is capitalizing on the idea of self compassion then it must be something that many people identify with and desire.

So as I walked through the store picking up vegetables for dinner I couldn’t help but think how does this idea of self love and self compassion show up in my life?   I feel like I’m pretty confident about myself (most of the time) and I feel good about the things I’ve achieved and things I’m working towards.  But then I thought,  “What if I’m not achieving anything at the  moment or I don’t feel good about what I am working towards?”   Then am my less worthy of self compassion and self love?

As it turns out accomplishment is more about self-esteem then self-compassion and there’s actually a difference between the two.

According to Dr. Kristen Neff—a leading expert on self-compassion, self-esteem refers to our sense of self-worth, perceived value, or how much we like ourself,  and is often contingent on our latest success or failure, meaning that our self-esteem fluctuates depending on ever-changing circumstances.  

In contrast, Kristen says having self- compassion means we are kind and understanding to ourselves when confronted with personal failings (that can be a tough one for a perfectionist like myself!)

She shares three elements of self-compassion that I think  are helpful to use when we begin  to hear the unwanted opinion of that nagging voice in our head.  Kristen suggest that we first have self kindness for ourselves, then recognize our common humanity as well as becoming more aware of ourselves, that is being mindful.

2015-02-10 11.42.56 “Self kindness “she says, “entails being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail and feel inadequate rather than ignoring our pain or being critical of ourselves”.   Recognizing our common humanity she suggests means that “these feelings of personal inadequacy or suffering are part of a shared human experience, something that we all go through, rather than being something  that happens to “us” alone”.   Self compassion also requires mindfulness the ability to take a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed or exaggerated.   Staying mindful helps us stay neutral so we don’t get caught up in our story and over identify with our thoughts and feelings which can easily be swayed throughout the day.

At this weeks Creativity, Connection&  Chocolate gathering we talked about cultivating self compassion.

IMG_0858We began with a brief  exercise by Dr. Neff  that helped us explore  the idea of compassion  in our own lives  and then enjoyed creating our own angel or affirmation cards to  give ourselves a gentle reminder during the week to be compassionate with ourselves.

Here are the questions for you to explore and some of the answers that the women in our community shared  as well as some pictures of the beautiful cards created that evening.

How would you treat a friend? 

(An exercise from work by Kristin Neff, Ph.D.  at  Selfcompassion.org)

1. First, think about times when a close friend feels really bad about him or herself or is really struggling in some way. How would you respond to your friend in this situation (especially when you’re at your best)? Please write down what you typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you typically talk to your friends.

2015-02-10 20.35.57“I would offer a friend a shoulder to lean on and give her space to grow. “ ~  “I would remind them of who they truly are,  often during challenging times we forget our most precious gifts. “ ~  “I would ask how I can support them and listen.”  ~  “I would ask “How are you? Really, how are you?” ~   “I would let them know they can call anytime,  that I am here for them and I would just listen, stay positive and speak to them in a gentle voice to let them know I am available for them.”  ~  “I would ask questions to understand them more and let them talk through their experience to discharge any energy around it.   I would provide active listening for them.”2015-02-10 20.57.09

2. Now think about times when you feel bad about yourself or are struggling. How do you typically respond to yourself in these situations? Please write down what you typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you talk to yourself.

“Wow,  it’s completely the polar opposite!  I make myself wrong sometimes in a mean way.” ~ “ I question myself. I resist what is, I fight against it.”  ~   “I get critical of myself and diminish my self-worth.” ~  “I replay the situation  over and over again and try to fix it.” ~   “I reassure myself…but I don’t believe it.”  ~  “I tell myself I’m not doing enough,  I’m not making things happen fast enough and I live with fear and anxiety.”

 3. Did you notice a difference? If so, ask yourself why. What factors or fears come into play that lead you to treat yourself and others so differently?

“Yes, I have crazy high standards and expectations of myself!”  ~  “I notice my self talk is a habit” ~   “My fear is about getting it wrong, I notice I’m focusing on the end and I missing the journey.”  ~  “I notice I take care of others before myself,  I hear myself say I’m not good enough,  not worthy of love.”

 

4. Please write down how you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when you’re suffering.

“I would feel so much more relaxed!”  ~  “I would enjoy myself,   have less suffering, more self acceptance and more passion in life.” ~  “I would live in faith, not  fear.”  ~  “Life would be less stressful, I would waste less time,  my breath would be open, I would feel peaceful and free.” ~  I would know that this too shall pass.” ~   “I would be a great role model for my daughter.”  ~  “I would have less meltdowns and less mood swings,  I would recognize that emotions are just guests.”2015-02-10 20.35.26

Why not try treating yourself like a good friend and see what happens?

Thank you for being part of our community!  We  welcome your thoughts and experiences with self compassion please share them below.

I hope you’ll join us for class or event at Community Chocolate soon, you never know what you may learn who you may strike up a conversation with!

Warmly,

Elissa

Community Chocolate… Connection is sweet.

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