Episode #31 of The Still Space Podcast - Blame and Your Self-Compassion
With Executive Coach Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE
Get her free career toold at www.MaryLeeGannon.com
The change of seasons reminds me to take stock in what season of my life or or my thinking has come to an end. And what season am I committing to end to make room for new growth. We prune back rose bushes for this reason. Sometimes we need to do the same with behaviors and thoughts and feelings that don’t serve us.
Blame is one of them.
If we can’t process our own thoughts and feelings around our discomfort we can start to externalize the discomfort rather than turn in and face the uncomfortable feeling we don’t want to feel. We start to blame and complain. It gives us a short term additive high yet the nagging feeling and the sneaky thoughts associated with it prevail.
Just decide: No blame. This does not imply to deny or bury any situation or your discomfort around it. Reconcile and own your thoughts behind your feelings and craft new thoughts that better serve you so you can have deeper relationships.
Instead of, “She is the reason this isn’t working ” you might change the thought to, “I’m disappointed this isn’t working out and fear I might be judged as not good enough so I’ll focus my time on (x) because I am good at that.” Owning our own stuff is really hard. Really hard. And essential for happiness.
Then, most importantly - make a 💯 commitment to never blame. Period. No blame.
Blame is easy. It kills growth, intimacy, ownership of denied feelings and situations, clarity and freedom. All the research shows this. It keeps us a victim. It is a crutch for not facing difficult feelings that need to be owned and dealt with not denied. We can release what we own. Blaming our discomfort on someone else is easier than dealing with feelings that were born from assumptions that don’t serve us. It mires us in resentment and hurt. The blame has to end for peace and acceptance to emerge. Not ignored for it comes out in other ways. Reconcile and end.
We learn to be open to difficult emotions with Self-care and self-compassion.
I used to think self-care was my bubble bath or reading my self-help books after a crisis moment. While these provided a breath of fresh air they weren’t helping me to deal with raw emotions in the moment.
Do you see self-care as after-care? Do you wait until the let-down, crisis, or doubt sets in and then try to play catch-up to snap you out of feeling inadequate. Do you think there is something wrong with you because this pattern keeps happening to you?
You deserve better. And only you can give yourself that. Revisit the Mindful Daily Practices section of this book.
It’s freeing to be able to see the hurt coming, slow down, and be still. Still. Understand that things come and go. Emotions come and go. The important thing is to accept them all. Nod at them. Embrace them all - not turn away in fear. Then you can choose to do with them what you want verses being controlled by them.
Fear will consume you to the point of convincing you that you don’t want to feel it. Yet it does nothing but grow. As a matter of fact, fear will eventually convince you to start judging yourself for not being able to turn down its volume.
Versus stepping back to say, “I am feeling (afraid, nervous, anxious, shame, judgment).” And getting curious. “What am I afraid of?” Then you can unpack it and realize it’s really nothing but your imagination running its course. This is self-compassion. This is self-care.
Either you choose what to do with fear or your ego will take over because it is a survivor and its sole role is to keep you safe by making you risk averse.
We don’t adopt mindful daily practices just for the moments we do them. We meditate, pray, read daily inspirations, take mindful walks where we notice our surroundings not ruminate past situations because these routines slow our minds so that we may be still in even the most stressful circumstances.
A still mind creates a space to be more self-aware of our thoughts and behaviors.
This is the space of self-care and compassion.
When you have compassion for yourself you will grow compassion for others. And vice versa. Compassion is natural; you don't have to force it; just open to the difficulty, the struggle, the stress, the impact of events, the sorrow and strain of a situation. You can open this for yourself and for others. Open your heart, let yourself be moved, and let compassion flow through you.
Start with your body. It gets you out of the confusion in your head. Feel what self-compassion is like in your body – in your chest, throat, and face. Sense the way it softens your thoughts, gentles your reactions. Know it so you can find your way back again. When you have compassion for yourself you can feel compassion for others.
When you accept yourself, the world will accept you too.
Moments of compassion come in the flow of life – maybe a friend tells you about a loss, or you can see the hurt behind someone's angry face, a hungry child looks out at you from the pages of a magazine, a friend tells you of their grief at the loss of their loved one. If you can’t manage how that may at first make you feel uncomfortable – how you’d rather skim over it – you will not have a genuine feeling of compassion for others. You will turn away in discomfort. This is why self-compassion and external compassion grow in unison. If you can be still with the discomfort for a few moments and allow it to be there you can unpack it. “This is just me feeling uncomfortable. They must feel terribly uncomfortable too.”
Here are some calming and connection building techniques:
• Relax and tune into your body.
• Remember the feeling of being with someone who cares about you.
• Bring to mind someone it is easy to feel compassion for.
• Put your compassion into words, softly heard in the back of your mind, such as:
"May you not suffer . . . may this hard time pass . . . may things be alright for you."
• Expand your circle of compassion to include others; consider a friend, someone who has been kind to you, a neutral person, a difficult person (a challenge, certainly), and yourself (sometimes the hardest person of all).
• Go further. Extend the intention of compassion to all the beings in your family . . . neighborhood . . . city . . . state . . . country . . . world. All beings, known or unknown, liked or disliked. Humans, animals, plants, even microbes. Beings great or small, in the air, on the ground, underwater. Including all, omitting none.
• Go through your day, open to compassion from time to time for people you don't know: someone in a deli, a stranger on a bus, crowds moving down the sidewalk.
• Let compassion settle into the background of your mind and body. As what you come from, woven into your gaze, words, and actions.
This mindset of loving kindness softens our hearts and makes us more connected to ourselves and others.