Emotional Baggage and The Habit Of Self Compassion

Emotional Baggage and The Habit Of Self Compassion

Off come the shoes. And then the belt. Wallet, keys, phone, coins placed in a little tray on the conveyor belt and through the machine they go. I get to walk, shoeless, through my own machine, being scanned just like my personal belongings are. Just to make sure I’m not bringing anything dangerous with me on my journey.

Welcome to the airport.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such a machine at home? A machine that would scan you as you left the house to start the new day. Scanning you to see if you’re carrying anything dangerous with you into the new day.

Not like a knife, or a gun, or a concealed explosive.

I’m talking about thoughts and emotions.

Which, at times, can also be rather dangerous.

Emotional baggage. The unfortunate carry-on. Often we don’t even know we’re carrying it. Probably because we’ve been carrying it for so long it just feels natural. The anger, the frustration, the narrative. Usually we just mindlessly take it with us as we start the journey of each new day.

For many years I was too angry and too frustrated to notice how angry and frustrated I was. A combination of anger, frustration, fear, doubt, and worry were readily present to some degree. The “feedback” of others was never welcomed, it was simply dismissed because I was the only one who understood my journey which somehow validated the baggage I was carrying.

Until I got past that “logic”, the baggage was never going to be put down. Until I was able to see and understand what was going on inside of me I was never going to own it. Until you own it, you’re never going to try and fix it. Because you don’t think it’s you who is broken.

One of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself has been the gift of compassionate self-awareness. The ability to compassionately look into myself and actually notice what I’m carrying with me. Good or bad. And not judging myself for carrying it. Self-awareness is in many ways just like the security screening at the airport. It’s allows me to see the concealed stuff I’m carrying with me, the stuff that could be emotionally dangerous.

Self-awareness isn’t always easy. It’s a process. An intentional process. Often, though, our self discovery is met with a non-compassionate response. How often do we habitually get mad at ourselves for feeling the way that we do? How often does our inner voice simply beat us down for somehow not being better, for us not being able to deal with what we are dealing with?

A more compassionate response? That took me some time to learn, and I’m still learning. It doesn’t change what is, but it changed how I dealt with what is. I now attempt to respond to myself in the same manor I would respond to a good friend. It sounds simple, yet we are often much harder on ourselves than we ever are on our friends.

I can assure you I still at times get caught up in the moments of anger, frustration, fear, doubt, and worry. I’m just now better being able to respond to them when they do arise.

How do you respond to you when life is getting the better of you? Have you ever simply stepped back and noticed how you respond? Is the anger met with more anger? Does the frustration make you more frustrated? Once we know how we respond we can decide how we can choose to respond going forward.

It’s not always easy, this compassionate self-awareness. Changing habits is never easy.

But creating new habits, habits of compassion which serve us instead of hurt us, is something worth working towards.

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

The Promise

The Promise

I probably won’t have the answer.

(Questions sometimes don’t have answers.)

I probably won’t fully understand, either.

And, no, I won’t know exactly how you feel.

What I can give you?

My presence.

Compassionate presence.

My full attention.

My open ears.

My open arms.

My open heart.

My infinite patience.

My silence if that’s what is needed.

I will never minimize the burden you carry.

I just won’t let you carry it alone.

Photo by Brent Ninaber on Unsplash

Could It Really Be This Simple?

Could It Really Be This Simple?

What if John and Paul were right?

What if all we need is love?

I’ve often dismissed the premise as being overly simplistic. Life can be extremely challenging sometimes. But I’m starting to think they were on to something.

When I look at the world, where wouldn’t love make a difference? Imagine any crisis or strife anywhere in the world. Wouldn’t love make so many of these situations dramatically better, perhaps even eliminate them completely? Isn’t the absence of love the root cause of most of these situations to begin with?

Look at the relationships in your life. Wouldn’t unconditional love make them better and stronger? Wouldn’t unconditional love allow us to accept others as they are and others to accept us as we are? Wouldn’t others also feel a greater sense of peace from feeling a greater sense of love?

Look at your relationship with yourself. What would your life look and feel like if you lovingly allowed yourself the space to be you, without judgement or condition? Isn’t it the absence of love which prevents us from being patient, forgiving, and supportive of ourselves?

Where wouldn’t more love make a difference?

Often our well-intentioned search to find answers to life’s deepest questions can take us down a long and winding road. Our problems are big and therefore demand big solutions.

Or do they?

Maybe it’s not as complicated as we can sometimes make it out to be.

Maybe all we really need is love?

It’s a great day to be you!

This One Assumption Can Save A Life

This One Assumption Can Save A Life

Thursday was a big day for Danielle.

11 months sober.

I didn’t even know sobriety was an issue for her.

You could feel both her pride and apprehension in her Facebook post informing her friends of her milestone. Apparently she’s been down this path before, she knows it’s something she is taking one step at a time.

It was great to see the love, support, and encouragement her friends posted in reply. Her replies to their posted comments indicated she, too, was quite happy for the love being sent her way.

Danielle bravely decided to publicly share her struggles with those in her social media world. Bravely, because our world tends to look down on struggle, leaving many of those who do struggle to struggle in silence, battling their own demons alone. Struggle often Continue reading “This One Assumption Can Save A Life”

Please Don’t Wait Until I’m Broken To Fix Me

Please Don’t Wait Until I’m Broken To Fix Me

The real question is why didn’t anyone bother to ask why he was sitting on a wall in the first place…

When you think about the elliptical shape of an egg it’s not really surprising Humpty Dumpty had his great fall, is it? When you factor in gravity, an egg on top of a wall is an accident waiting to happen. And in Humpty’s case that’s exactly what happened.

Sure, all the king’s horses and men tried their best, but, as the story goes, they couldn’t put Humpty back together again.

Too little too late.

Sometimes we find our own emotionally elliptical-shaped self teetering atop of our own walls, and with one small change in circumstance we, too, can find ourselves in pieces on the floor, hoping the horses and men (and women) in our own life will be there trying to help us piece our emotional self back together again. And while it’s good to have friends to help you pick up your pieces, wouldn’t it be better if they never let you fall in the first place? Continue reading “Please Don’t Wait Until I’m Broken To Fix Me”

The Greatest Gift You’ll Ever Give

The Greatest Gift You’ll Ever Give

To talk with him, you’d have no idea of all he has been going through. The smile and the usual jovial confidence in his voice did a wonderful job of covering the pain and emptiness.

But the pain was quite real, always simmering just below the surface, out of sight but never out of his mind.

Sometimes life just isn’t easy. It’s a feeling we’ve all known at some point, perhaps even right now. Sometimes life is confusing, overwhelming, uncertain, empty. What compounds the hurt is the human tendency to keep our emotional pain a secret. We’ve been societally conditioned to believe an admission of emotional difficulty is a sign of weakness. So we keep it all inside, festering, doing all we can to manage the pain, constructing facades of happiness and stability for all to see, afraid of the shameful truth we feel we need to hide from the world.

At times, the opposite is true. Some have courageously opened their deepest self and Continue reading “The Greatest Gift You’ll Ever Give”

The Modern Guide for Hating Other Humans

The Modern Guide for Hating Other Humans

Hate needs a makeover.

I’m not a big fan of hate. Or of hateful people. But out of fairness, as a society we haven’t done a great job teaching people the proper way to hate others, have we?

None of us are born haters. Hate is something we learn rather informally, often influenced by those who guide us though our formative years. The people who teach us how to hate have no course syllabus or Powerpoint presentations to ensure we are doing it the “right” way. Rather, we become unsuspecting apprentices, watching and listening to the actions and words of those who we look up to and someday hope to make proud. Hate can be passed from one generation to the next just as easily as the color of someone’s eyes. Continue reading “The Modern Guide for Hating Other Humans”

Are You Willing To Share The Healing Power of You?

Are You Willing To Share The Healing Power of You?

Walking into the auditorium I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The event was billed as an evening with a musician who had been physically healed, in part, by music and has since helped others to heal through the sharing of his gift of music.

I didn’t know Andrew, but I soon became intrigued by his story. A tumor, initially thought to be cancerous was actually benign. However, the celebration quickly subsided as Andrew’s body began to shut down from an allergic anaphylactic shock while recovering from his surgery. For several days he vacillated between life and death, comatose in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at New York’s Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. Sensing Andrew had perhaps lost his desire to live, out of fear and desperation his wife Continue reading “Are You Willing To Share The Healing Power of You?”

This Is How I Will Make America Great Again

This Is How I Will Make America Great Again

Someone says we need to make America great again.

America has never stopped being great. But we can always make it greater.

The real question which needs to be answered is who is going to make it happen?

America in 2016 is torn, angry, frustrated, partisan, and divided, fueled in great part by the train wreck of this year’s presidential elections. Many have profited politically from perpetuating a culture of “Us vs Them”, where being offended has become some sort of birthright and there’s always someone to blame for your unhappiness. Not that long ago America had room for compromise and intelligent rational conversations but now working Continue reading “This Is How I Will Make America Great Again”

Random Acts of Blindness

Random Acts of Blindness

Until you understand their pain, you will never understand the person. Without such understanding, the truth is inevitably distorted, and our expectations of others are flawed from the very beginning.

Understanding another’s pain is itself a flawed concept. To truly know pain you must own it. No matter their best intentions, no one else will ever know exactly how you feel. But what needs to be understood is that there is pain in all of us, the emotional dents and dings collected on life’s journey.

We judge others by what we see in front of us. Actions and attitudes not meeting our expectations are often met with harshness and disdain. A logical response in the mind of many. But what if we Continue reading “Random Acts of Blindness”