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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Friday, January 31, 2014

January 31st Challenge: Go Easy on Yourself Sometimes

a month of reflections
  OK, comrades, let's wind it up.
Today concludes the annual month of tiny challenges.  As you know, my big challenge was getting in a post a day for 31 days.  Thanks to those of you who played along and sent encouraging words when I was running out of steam.  Writing doesn't come that easy to me; I wait til late in the night to break through my reluctance and spit it out then hit "post" before ego wakes up.  After a bit of time off,  I'll go back and edit these.  Thanks for wading through the uncut versions.  Hope you found something useful.

Today's challenge was suggested by my first-born when I was expressing anxiety about that. 
"Go easy on yourself sometimes. Especially in hindsight. We have so many skills today that we could have used to more effectively handle yesterday. But that is such a trap!! A good one for the end of this blog month, where, because I know you, I will take a bet that you may be looking back with a few similar thoughts of what you woulda/coulda/shoulda."  --Hannah 

She knows me.  And I know people, or at least a lot of them, because I spend my days talking to them about just these sorts of narratives.  We look back at our life with hard-wrought experience and information, much of it is based on the outcomes we couldn't have known in advance.  But current self forgets what past self didn't know or understand at the time, and is very judgy. 

It's good to hold ourselves accountable, but it's also good to practice self-compassion.  There's a lot of room between self-condemnation and self-indulgence.  Walk that middle path some.  As author and therapist Tom Ruttledge says,  you're not an exception to the idea that no one is perfect.  He added that the mathematical formula for pain is the difference between our expectations and our performance, "which like gas milage, will vary".

If you didn't get as far as you liked on your resolutions this month, don't waste energy berating yourself.  If there are resolutions you wanted to do and failed, take a little time to figure out what the barriers were.  Where your expectations unreasonable given your resources? Where is your resistance?  Are there fears about the outcome if you are actually successful?  This is more common than you'd think.  What support do you need, and how can you obtain it?  Remember, every new day is a chance to begin.  Meanwhile, how about practicing loving yourself as you are, with all your foibles?  That's a great starting point.

I hope that 2014 brings you love and blessings, that you will walk a lot, stay curious,  and practice compassion to self and others.   

References for self-compassion:  Great videos to encourage your practice.
Tara Brach:  Surrender to the Monkeys
Brene Brown:   Listening to Shame
Kristen Neff:   The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion
Pema Chödrön:  Maitri (Unconditional Friendship with Self)

Quote of the day:  "When we start out on a spiritual path we often have ideals we think we're supposed to live up to. We feel we're supposed to be better than we are in some way. But with this practice you take yourself completely as you are. Then ironically, taking in pain - breathing it in for yourself and all others in the same boat as you are - heightens your awareness of exactly where you're stuck." 
--Pema Chodron

Song of the day:  

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