Monday, March 25, 2013

Be Your Own Best Friend

Photo of the month:
Friends, December 2004, Naples, FL

Quote of the month:
You would see 
the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say,
"Thank you for being a friend!"

When a friend comes to you with a problem.... how do you talk to them?  Let's use the example of your friend making a mistake at work.  Nothing bad happened, but they felt stupid (their word) for having made the mistake.  

What would you say to them?  

Would you tell them, 
"Boy that was stupid!" or 
"I can't believe you did that!"  or how about, 
"We should enter than one in the L-CIA 'Lack of Central Intelligence Agency Hall of Fame!' " 

Of course NOT!  You would help them see the situation differently, minimize the "lack of intelligence" factor and help them feel better about themselves.  You would remind them that everyone else has probably already forgotten about it... and that they shouldn't continue to be hard on themselves over something rather insignificant like this.  In short, you would be kind and compassionate.  Well, most of you would be anyway!  : )  

Now, let's change the scenario just a little bit.... let's say that YOU are the one who did something "stupid" at work.  Nothing bad happened to anyone, but you just feel like everyone at the work place witnessed your brief lack of intelligence.  

What would you say to yourself?  

Let's revisit the list above.... "Boy that was stupid,"  "I can't believe I did that...."  "Let's enter that one in the hall of fame..." and then add "you are such an idiot!" 

So why would you talk to yourself so much differently than to your friend?   Why are we so hard on ourselves, when we would never speak to others that way?  Why don't we treat ourselves with the same kindness, care and concern that we would treat a friend?  Do you have an answer?

What is really going on underneath it?  Go back to the situation at work... imagine what one would feel in this situation.  Let's keep it so simple that we can't miss the point.  Let's say someone asked what is 2 + 2 and you answered 5.  When someone else says, "No, it's 4!"  The mistake is realized.   One would probably feel embarrassed... there might be some shame.  Tara Brach suggests that we investigate our inner experience with kindness and compassion.  She suggests asking questions such as:

What is it that is really wanted in this situation? 
What most wants attention?
How am I experiencing this in my body?
What am I believing? or 
What does this feeling want from me?

She suggests using these types of questions to direct yourself inward ... and towards the Truth.  In reality, it is perfectly normal to feel that way.  Anyone would feel that way and no one would like it.  Using "What am I believing?"  One can see that they are believing that they are not intelligent.  This may lead to feeling like they do not deserve the job... or any number of other things.  What this internal feeling is really looking for is understanding and warmth, not more pain.  When seen from this perspective, we can shift into a more caring position, talk to yourself the way you would a friend, acknowledge the feeling and the pain... name it and allow it to "be"... This allows us to heal and move on.  If, instead we deny it, push it down, wish it was different or are hard on ourselves, this situation creates additional feelings such as shame or guilt that also need to be dealt with in addition to the original painful feeling.   

Also, in January's post, we talked about the difference between pain and suffering.  This is  really just another form of that suffering, and as we now know, suffering is optional!  Refer to the January post if need be!  Stopping with "what is" and feeling the pain of that alone, will end the process much more quickly.  

Another reference for self-compassion is Dr. Kristin Neff.  You can see her Ted Talk self-compassion on her website at the link.  

My Simple suggestion this month is that we treat ourselves with the same kindness and compassion that we would treat our friends.  Try it!  Let me know how it feels!

Until next month....
Keep it Simple,