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.

Living Passionately, Loving Deeply

classical musicTaking the risk to live passionately and love deeply can be, well…risky.  

We risk that things may change, and that we may have to change with them.  We risk being uncomfortable as we step outside our comfort zone, and we risk the possibility of loss.

Not that we must endure, or suffer from loss, but we risk loss, and sometimes the fear of that loss alone is enough to stop us from trying to live a richer, more meaningful life. 

But it is in taking that risk that we open ourselves up to something bigger and more profound, to deeper and more complex experiences and emotions. It is how we grow.

This past Tuesday we viewed  “The Transformative Power of Classical Music” an inspiring TED Talk by Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. His  gift of inspiring others to live with and love classical music doesn’t stop there, he uses it as a metaphor for life. Benjamin often speaks about “living into” possibility, into the experience of life.  I believe it is his way of saying “take the risk, try to be bigger, better, more of who you are!”  Whether we are striving to learn a new instrument,  challenging ourselves to follow a new career path or falling in love for the first time…or the fifth, he encourages us to “live into” the possibility.  

 At Tuesday’s TED Talk & Chocolate gathering we discussed what living passionately  means to us and shared our thoughts about Ben’s idea of “living into”  possibility.

 Here are the questions we considered and some of the answers that the women in our community shared:

1. At the beginning of his talk Benjamin tells a story about salesmen who travel to a town to sell shoes.   One man sees no opportunity because “they do not wear shoes” the other sees an abundance of opportunity because “they have no shoes”.

 How do you experience this glass half-full / half-empty story in your own life?

  • To keep the glass half-full we… stay grateful ; listen to happy music;  laugh often! ; become  an observer,  have more awareness of my thoughts;   movement any movement!;  HUGS!

 

2. Ben shares that a leader must have no doubt in the capacity of those he is leading.

 Is this meaningful for you, if so how?

  •   Yes,  if leaders believe in the people they are leading they are more effective, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.;   to lead like this one step back and hold the space for others to grow.

 

3. When Benjamin shares how to listen to the piece by Frederic Chopin he says, “…this is about vision, its like the bird flying over the field who doesn’t care about the fences underneath”.

How does this speak to you?

  •   For me it’s about seeing long-term and not getting caught up in any daily drama.

 

4. Ben believes that classical music is for everyone.  He asks, “How would you walk, how would you talk, who would you be, if you thought everybody loved classical music but just didn’t know it yet?”

How would you walk,  how would you talk, who would you be, if you could see possibility for your own life the way he sees the possibility for you to love classical music?

  •   I would be much more positive and passionate. ; I would walk with my head held high, confident, happy.;  I would live with a certain knowing, a deep trust.

 

5. Benjamin defines his success by “how many shiny eyes are around him”, that is, how well is he able to awaken possibility and others.

What is your definition of success? (You may have several…)

  • If I’m happy.; When I am helping others build towards their goals.; I feel like it’s an honor to help someone see possibility and see that mistakes are just part of the learning process.;   I feel successful when my internal thoughts are positive. I like to  surround myself with people who believe anything is possible.; I do things like take yoga classes, and I enjoy rich experiences like the ones here at Community Chocolate.;  when I feel successful I experienced synchronicity I witnessed miracles and feel in the flow.;  When I take the risk to step outside my comfort zone, that to me feels successful.

 

 6. What do you think Ben means by “living into” the possibility?

  • I like the term “lean in” that is, to try it on, give it a chance. ; To me it’s like stepping in – one foot forward.;  I see it like living into what is true.

 As always, we welcome your thoughts and insights!

Thanks for being part of the community and I hope you’ll join us for an event at Community Chocolate soon, you never know what you may learn or who you will strike up a conversation with.  

Warmly,

Elissa

Community Chocolate…connection is sweet.

 

Identifying Your Blind Spots

“When you’re making a decision about something, look at more than the benefits you’ll get by doing it.  Also look at what price it requires of you.  Weigh both the benefits and the price before you decide whether to act or not.”

Harold Klemp, The Language of Soul

 This week we explored the Life Congruency Quotient (LCQ).

Your LCQ is a measure of the amount of conflict vs. congruency in your life.  It is the interaction of your values with your goals and your actions. And as one of the women in our community observed, it is a great way to identify our blind spots.

Your values are the things you stand for, the things that matter most to you.  They give your life purpose and direction. For me freedom, learning, family and nature are some of my values.

What are some of your values? 

Your goals are the desired results you envision and plan for to achieve your dreams.  Goals can be personal or professional and can be long or short term.

What are two goals that you would like to achieve?

Your actions are made up of the behaviors, responses and reactions you make throughout your day. We’ll come back to actions in a bit.

 Your LCQ is essentially a filter that you can use to run every thought, word, action and deed through.  Think of it as a self-protective mechanism in which you can determine in a hurry how your life will be impacted.

When you have a high LCQ you are likely to feel:

Satisfied                In the flow               Happy                 In the right place

Peaceful                Ease                           Blissful               Fulfilled

Joyful                     Robust                      Inspired              Rich

Content                  Positive                    Optimistic          Successful

High Self Esteem                                    Internal well-being

The list goes on and on….

 

If your LCQ is low, which may be generated from a project, idea, relationship, or circumstance being incongruent, you are likely to feel:

Stressed               Drained                    Hopeless               Uninspired

Obligated             Over promised        Anxious                 Fatigued

Dreadful               Resentful                  Depressed             Confused

As if you “should”

 

When you use the LCQ to identify your blind spots you’ll first identify your roles, goals, values and  then actions in relation to these  three ideas. We took some time on Tuesday to work through the Life Congruency Quotient with a few of our own life experience. Here’s one of the examples I gave before we got started…

Role:   Friend

Value:  clarity

Goal: to have healthy relationships

Action:  hang out with people that are flaky, disrespectful or treat me poorly.

If my role  is a friend and I value clarity and my goal is to have healthy relationships but my actions are to hang out with people that are flaky, disrespectful and treat me poorly then I have a Low LCQ.   This sounds obvious but there’s a fine line here when  discernment is involved.

How often do they flake and why?  How many times am I willing to tolerate that?  Could I be open to meeting others?

Sometimes we need to be brave enough to let go of what we have even though we may think it is all we’ve got or that it is the only thing we will ever have. It’s a little bit like holding onto a ball when you’re being thrown another. Sometimes it’s just better to let go than to try to juggle.

 

Here are some examples of a High LCQ

Role – Friend

Value – authenticity

Goal – real friendships

Action – tell the truth, surround yourself with healthy authentic people

 

Role – Small business owner

Value – abundance and making a difference

Goal – profit enough to give a large percentage to charity

Action – follow sound financial strategies, get congruent with spending vs debt

 

Here are some examples of a Low LCQ

Role – Parent

Value – healthy and honoring communication

Goal  – to be the type of parent that my daughter trusts and respects

Action – I criticize her after she admits to doing something wrong or something she is not proud of.

 

Role – Executive Assistant to a workaholic boss

Value – freedom, outdoors and travel

Goal – someday travel the world and learn many languages

Action – work overtime and give most of their energy to the job leaving little time for travel, learning, being outdoors and freedom.

In this instance there are a few ways to remedy the situation. This person could quit and get a new job,  they could compassionately confront their boss to change their experience, or they could change their values.  It’s possible that they recognize that the values of freedom, outdoors and travel are not their own and that they actually value working hard in a career. Making any of these changes would help turn their Low LCQ into a High LCQ.

I really like the way the LCQ helps us easily identify our blind spots and helps us get back on track. It’s part of the coaching process I use  to help my clients get clear on what they want and find solutions to sticky situations. I  invite you to learn more about coaching with me  here.

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

Warmly,

Elissa

Community Chocolate…connection is sweet.

 

 

What’s your Life Congruency Quotient?

Discernment. 

Hmmm…that can sound like one of those stern, restrictive type of words that could hold us back, keep us from engaging with others and stop us from experiences that could be joyful and enriching.

Ironically I have found discernment to be exactly the opposite. When we are discerning we have an opportunity to distinguish between what fill us up, nourishes us and enriches our life and what drains us and leaves us feeling emotionally bankrupt.

Sounds like a lot of responsibility for one little word, but discernment is one of those powerhouse words that can hold its own.  And when we have discernment we take on those same qualities; we are stronger, braver, more resilient and happier.

Last week I shared with you my word for the year, “open”, and I got to thinking about one of the reasons I chose that word, which was to be “open” to saying “yes” more often. Then I thought to myself, hmm…all those times I said “no”, was I closing myself off to people, opportunities for learning and possibilities for growth and joy?

Not necessarily.   1

Many times there are good (and healthy) reasons for saying “no “.   That’s where discernment comes in, and being able to tell the difference is a skill that we can learn and continue to refine.   

We can think of discernment in a couple of different ways.

First, there’s the more basic, more tangible skill of being able to distinguish  between something that will benefit us and something that will not ( that’s a skill we can learn).  Then there’s the practice of refining ourselves – our ability to stay present with our feelings and make good decisions based on that awareness (that’s an inside job).

For instance, if I am invited to a party and I decide not to go, I might ask myself,  “Am I deciding to pass because it will not be in my best interest – perhaps it’s on a weeknight and I have to work early in the morning, or it involves hanging out with unhealthy people that make unhealthy choices?” (That’s a learned skill) or “Am I saying “no” to the party out of fear thus closing myself off?” (that’s the inside job).

I’ve developed a tool to help make refining discernment a little bit easier, it’s called the Life Congruency Quotient (LCQ) and it is a measure of the amount of conflict versus congruency in our life.

Your LCQ is the interaction of your true values with your goals and your actions. 

Your values are the things you stand for, the things that matter most to you.  They give your life purpose and direction.

Your goals are the desired results you envision and plan for to achieve your dreams.  

Your actions are made up of the behaviors, responses and reactions you make throughout your day.

When all three are in alignment you have a high Life Congruency Quotient. On the other hand, if your goals, actions and values contradict each other, then your Life Congruency Quotient is low.

I’ve posted more about the Life Congruency Quotient in the next blog, you can read more about it and try it out for yourself here.

Please keep sharing! I’d love to hear your thoughts about using the LCQ!

Warmly,

Elissa

Community Chocolate…connection is sweet.

 

Your Word Is Waiting For You!

Image 1Last week at our Creativity, Connection & Chocolate gathering we chose our word for the year.

It sounded like a relatively simple task, but we soon found that reflecting on what is most meaningful for us and what we are willing to commit our time and energy to this year is acctually quite profound.

We used Christine Kane’s “Your Word for the Year”  Discovery Tool from her Uplevel Your Life Mastery Program to guide us through our process.  If you would like join us and choose a word for the year as well, you can download her guide here.

There were 5 guidelines we followed as we worked through our word for the year process.

Choose one word (too many can be confusing)

Be authentic with your choice (don’t use the word just because you think you should pick it)

Let your word amplify your awareness (realize, as Christine says, your word is  not microwavable and that it will take time to manifest with focus throughout the year) Commit to being clear about your word (our discussion that evening help us clarify which words were most important to us each of us)

And don’t worry so much about the “how”  (that is don’t micromanage your way through your year, allow it to unfold organically).

We talked about what would be different for us if we embodied this word daily and in our lives.  We also considered ways we already live this word and the many opportunities we have to live it even more.   We visualized ourselves at the end of the year and  thought about the things we would have created or manifested if we lived this word daily.  And, we recognized some of the triggers or old patterns that keep us from embracing this word more fully.

Here are some of the words the women in our community chose and why:

Courage -  to make my own decisions, to be able to say no to people, this is a big year of working on me.

Movement – I’d like to have momentum and movement in all areas of my life – work and at home.  More activity and exercise in my life!

Heart-ful –   at first I chose mindful but that made me feel shut down, trapped and the thought of having to take action on mindful acctually gave me a headache!   Then I realized what I wanted was  to be heart-ful! That inspired me to feel joyful, peaceful, calm and many of the other feelings that I was trying to embrace through mindful.

Gentleness – gentleness with myself as I work at a new job. Normally I extend this feeling to others but this year I’m going to give it to myself.

Discipline – decisiveness, I want to clear clutter from my life, I find I often sabotage myself by keeping things confusing and cluttered, but with discipline I will have more freedom.Image 2

Gentle – which for me encompasses ease and wonderment.  I have a tendency to not experience these feelings but rather analyze them and this year I want to just feel that. Gentle means honoring this in me and being kinder to me.

Courage -  more than just in my career.  Being able to say “yes” to life because my response is to say no often,  being okay with vulnerability and crying more.

Nonjudgmental (acceptance) – for me,  this means more freedom of emotional expression, more play and fun. It is hard to be spontaneous when we compare ourselves to others, being nonjudgmental will give me an opportunity to have more depth in my experiences this year.

Our time together was both sweet (after all,  we shared chocolate, good conversation and had time to create vision boards!) and meaningful.

Thank you to all the women in our community who joined us at both the morning and evening gatherings on Tuesday, for helping to create such a fun and authentic experience for us to share.

Join the Community and leave a comment below,  we love to hear your thoughts and your experiences as you work through uncovering your word for the year!

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

Community Chocolate 17

 

 

 

 

Warmly,

Elissa

Community Chocolate…connection is sweet.