How did you do with last week’s challenge? Did you choose love by being aware of, and expressing appreciation for, the people in your life? What about yourself – did you choose to love yourself by acknowledging a job well done, or by congratulating yourself for holding your tongue when you could have just as easily exploded at your kids? Giving yourself kudos can be a difficult thing to do since, like all humans, you have what is called a negativity bias, or a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of yourself and your environment (you can read more about that in a Psychology Today article by clicking here). However, that is something that can be changed with awareness and practice. So, this week, as you continue to express appreciation to those around you, make sure you are including yourself in the praise-fest. ❤
As I mentioned in last week’s email, the second aspect of “love as a choice” is empathy and compassion. These two practices are a bit magical in my opinion, because they have the power to break through emotional walls, reduce defensiveness, and increase connection. Think about it – when you are hurting or experiencing uncomfortable emotions, how good does it feel to have someone see your struggle, put their attention on you, and say, “Hey, I can see you’re having a rough time. Come, sit with me. I’m here for you.”? That’s powerful stuff.
The reason I want to focus on loving YOURSELF with these practices, is that they are contagious… When you learn to speak to yourself in a loving and compassionate way, it becomes second nature to do it for others as well. So, what does it LOOK like to give yourself empathy and compassion? Maybe I can paint a picture for you with a story from my own experience, as I have been practicing these frequently in these past few weeks.
I have been wanting to move forward with Relationship Cubed since October, when I started a fantastic training with the founders of Happily Family on the topic of launching an online business. Things have really picked up in the past month, since the foundational work was mostly complete and the only way to move forward was to start putting myself out there (insert wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights emoji here!). Shockingly, I began discovering all these things around the house and in my office that just HAD to be taken care of…messy closets and drawers, loads of organization, redecorating, and a few sewing projects that had been started over a year ago but COULD NOT wait any longer. After a couple weeks, I was able to recognize what was happening (this is the awareness piece we talked about last week) and identify the feeling that was triggering my avoidance (a whole lot of fear!). This is where the empathy and compassion comes into play. Instead of mentally beating myself up for stalling, I chose to comfort myself by saying things like, “This is a definitely a scary thing! There is a lot of uncertainty and vulnerability involved in growing a business. It’s totally okay to be afraid- most people would.” Just by saying those things to myself, I felt stronger. When I accessed my inner-Brené-Brown (if you don’t know her, look her up – she’s aMAZing) and told myself it is okay to be scared AND brave at the same time, I was able to move through the fear and begin doing the things I wanted to do. Empathy and compassion broke down my walls, and allowed me to begin connecting with you. ❤
What about your story? What is one area where you could use some empathy and compassion? A good clue is to pay attention to times when you experience uncomfortable emotions. If you allow yourself to sit with those emotions for a bit, you will likely be able to discover what situation is triggering them (again- the awareness piece). Once you figure that out, practice choosing love by speaking to yourself with empathy and compassion. Just to be clear, the speaking doesn’t have to be audible, although it totally can be. We all talk to ourselves in our minds throughout the day. Do your best to make sure the content of the conversation is kind and loving. As with anything, this takes practice. The more you do it, the easier and more natural it will be.
Please do share your successes with me – I love to hear from you!
I’ll be back again next week when we tackle choosing love through non-judgemental effectiveness…I promise it will make sense once I explain it, and it’s a good one!