When I first learned about Self-Compassion I thought it was just making excuses. I hated excuses! I was one that wanted results and wanted accountability when results didn’t happen. I was hard on myself and those around me. I held everyone to a high standard and when I was disappointed I would always think “Well, I better do it myself.” When I fell short I would criticize myself and vow to do better.
Then Self-Compassion entered my life and I gave it a try. I was blown away at how compassion motivated me and put things into perspective for me. It wasn’t making excuses. It was far from it actually. Let me explain.
Self-compassion takes responsibility and requires accountability. You are mindful of your actions and you own up to them. You can accept that your behavior was bad without thinking that you are bad.
Excuses are when we blame another person or a circumstance for our behavior. It’s the opposite of taking accountability for our actions. We feel shame and dismiss our behavior based on our excuse.
Excuses never lead to true change. Excuses lead to a cycle of shame and co-dependency based on outside circumstances.
Self-compassion on the other hand does lead to true change because motivation comes naturally when you are kind and compassionate to yourself. You view yourself as an imperfect human being who makes mistakes and can acknowledge them and also correct them. Self-compassion allows you to be objective and honest with yourself because you know you are good and your worth doesn’t change.
I urge you to try Self-Compassion. Give it a shot. You will immediately reap the benefits of being kind to yourself and so will the people around you.
Amberdaun is one of my great friends. She never ceases to amaze me with her strength and humility. She is strong and gentle, loving and generous. We originally connected through adventure, but have connected through so much more. I will always be grateful for the relationships GOTG brings into my life.
My name is Amberdaun. Because of a previously unresolved childhood trauma, I have always had major self doubt, feeling of no self worth, struggles with owning up to my own problems and severely hurting those I love most around me. I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and actions. It took almost losing everything I had to make me “wake up” and feel the need to make some serious changes in my life, and my family’s life. That’s around when I went on my first Get Out There Girl adventure. I have gone on several retreats since then. One thing Get Out There Girl does is take these women who might not know each other on amazing adventures, and put them together to lift up and be vulnerable with each other and help us all overcome what ever difficulties we each face in this hard life.
I struggle with always comparing myself to others. I would always measure my value on somebody else’s opinion of me, or what I thought their opinion was. I’m always putting myself down, so on these trips I would sit there and say to myself how perfect these gorgeous, amazing, successful, skinny, kind, women’s lives are, and how I don’t compare to them and that I shouldn’t be there. No one on these trips made me feel that way, its just the way I felt about myself. What I came to realize is that none of these women were judging me. I just needed to get out of my own head and enjoy my time in the outdoors, doing something that I enjoyed. It is a constant struggle for me not to compare myself to others, and it is something I am continuously trying to improve on.
Going on these adventures gets me doing something that I would not normally do. During one of the retreats, we hiked through some slot canyons. I am claustrophobic, but wanted a new adventure. During the whole hike, I had to keep taking deep breaths so that I would not totally panic. In one of the areas, it got quite narrow, and at one point, my foot got stuck between two boulders. I really started to freak out and have a panic attack. I’m talking full on crying, hyperventilating, panic attack. I kept thinking this is it, i’m a goner. There was this sweet person named Kristen that kept telling me it was OK, to be patient with myself. I had never met this person before this retreat, but there she was, on my side, helping me through something major. Two of my dear friends were also there to help me with breathing exercises and focus points other than being stuck. Even though I was stuck for what felt like an eternity (in all reality it was maybe 30 seconds) there were these other strong and confident women helping me through this trial and I am so grateful for them.
I’m also scared of heights. I have gone on a few rappelling trips and absolutely LOVED it! I even got my own gear because I liked it so much. Being around the supportive women of GOTG has helped me get over so many hurdles that I would normally not even think about conquering in life. I just hope to be that supportive example to someone else along the way as so many have been to me.
I used to think that I was selfish as a mother and a wife to want time alone. Then I soon realized that I needed time for myself to revive myself, to refill my cup. How could I expect to take care of my kids, my husband, my house and the various other responsibilities that I had when my cup was so empty. Sometimes its okay to take time for yourself and go on your own adventures. That is what Get Out There Girl has done for me. Helped me see past my own insecurities and the good that can come from truly finding yourself, your passions, and forever friendships that can come from spending time in the outdoors with old and new friends.
I will be forever grateful for what Brittany and GOTG have given me and for the friendships I have formed in the process.
Today Stephanie shares her story with us. Thank you for being brave, real, and vulnerable Steph. You are amazing and I’m so grateful to know you.
One of the things I love the most about Get Out There Girl is that it gives women the opportunity to take time for themselves and teaches them the importance of self care. Which is huge! I have never been the best at self care. Truth be told I stink at it. As a wife and a mother of 5 kids (ranging from the ages of 13–2 and one with a severe epileptic medical condition) life can be stressful, busy and unpredictable. I have always just naturally put their needs and their wants above my own, which I think as wives and moms is pretty common and something we just tend to do without thinking twice. Is that wrong? No way! I think it’s extremely selfless but I have learned the hard way that it can also be very damaging. There needs to be some sort of balance with taking care of my own needs, wants and desires.
See, the problem I have is that when I do have an opportunity to do something for myself, or buy something for myself, or go on a trip or a GNO etc, I instantly feel guilt. Every single time. I have this self destructive habit and battle in mind and my first initial reaction is always a big fat NO! Why? I think because it’s the easy answer, the safe answer. So I come up with every excuse in the book to back up the “No.” Such as, not enough time, not enough money, I’m busy, or it’s selfish and irresponsible. I then stew over it for a long time. I let insecurities, guilt, fear and my anxieties creep in which then it takes things to a whole new level. Even if I end up saying yes, those feelings still linger. I overthink everything, literally everything! Needless to say, doing things for myself does not come easy or naturally. This is not something I’m proud of either. Although, I genuinely and sincerely love serving others and find great joy in caring for the needs of my family. I know it’s just as important to put myself and my needs high on the priority list. If I don’t, then feelings of resentment creep in and the victim mentality starts to take over. That is not a fun place to be.
I’m learning that the best thing I can do for myself AND for my family is to nurture my needs and to take time to do things for myself. Most importantly, to NOT feel guilty about it. I have a long way to go but I have been more intentional with it. I feel more balanced and I am able to be a better wife, a better mom and a better disciple of Jesus Christ. I am often reminded of the talk given by President Nelson a few years back. He shared a story about the oxygen mask, and that in order for us to be able to more fully take care of the ones that we love we must first take care of ourselves. I love this analogy and it speaks so much truth!
Another thing I absolutely love about Get Out There Girl is the focus it has on being in the outdoors. There is something very therapeutic to me about being out in nature. When I am in the outdoors whether it be under a starlit sky, sitting around a campfire, or hiking a beautiful trail, I feel a connection to God that I don’t feel any other way. I marvel at His creations. I find such peace and stillness that only comes from being out in nature. I felt all of these things at the Yoga retreat that I went on last year. It was so much fun! Not only was I able to go and be there with my 2 sisters and some friends, I was able to develop new friendships. I met so many women from all ages and stages of life, different backgrounds and beliefs. The unity, love and sisterhood that was felt there was pretty incredible! I learned new things, had some really neat experiences, made some deep connections, and left feeling totally rejuvenated! Oh and not to mention the yummy food!
I am so grateful that I fought off my initial “NO” (along with guilt, fear, anxiety and insecurities) and said “YES” to this opportunity that I took time for myself! I love EVERYTHING that Get Out There Girl is about and I hope to go on many more of the adventures/retreats in the future! I also just started the Self Compassion Workbook that Brittany wrote and it is awesome! I love that I am learning that self care is not a selfish thing at all. In fact, it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for the ones we love!
Ever since GOTG was created I have heard hundreds of women’s stories. My heart has grown as I have listened to women’s struggles and triumphs. I have discovered that women want to share. For so long we (women) have put our best foot forward and only showed the parts of ourselves that we think people want to see. This is exhausting. I’ve learned that one of our deepest desires as human beings is to be seen. We want someone to see all of us and love us regardless. We want someone to see how far we’ve come and how hard we have fought to be who we are. We want someone to see ALL of us, our strengths and our weaknesses and love us. We don’t want to hide parts of us.
As I have heard countless stories I felt strongly that others needed to hear them as well. We need to connect with each other through our humanity. I haven’t met a woman I didn’t love after hearing her story. I want you to hear each other’s stories and connect. Every Monday I plan to share another woman’s story. I hope you read the stories and see the connection you have with other women. See your shared humanity. See your similarities. See the courage. See the strength. See yourself in each story.
In this very unique circumstance where social distancing is required, I find myself longing for human connection outside of my family. Last year, my most profound experience with this type of connection occurred while I attended a self-compassion and yoga retreat put on by Get Out There Girl.
Looking back, it’s pretty easy to see there was a void in my life at the time. That void was the exact reason I started following Get Out There Girl in the first place; I watched Brittany post about these retreats and I knew I needed that in my life. Still, it took me some time to take the leap of faith required to sign up. As I sit down to write this post, the warm feelings from the retreat come back to me and I wonder how to paint an accurate picture of that precious experience.
It took a lot of bravery for me to book that trip. All the reasons I needed to go brought up all my fears about actually going. It all came down to friendship and connection…it was frightening to admit how much I needed to make some new friends. I didn’t sign up with a friend. What if everyone else brought a friend and I was left out? What if they didn’t like me? What if I didn’t fit in? Where had my self-confidence gone?
The more I asked myself these questions the more I knew I needed to go. My doubts and fears were worth pushing through. Then a new retreat was announced with the theme of yoga and self-compassion, two things I desperately needed more of in my life. I booked the trip which was the best thing I ever could have done for myself.
Lots of opportunities to test my self-compassion came with our first activity. A hike. The fast pace of the other women surprised me and before long all of the other women were so far ahead of me, I couldn’t see anyone.
But I was in nature and it was beautiful. I wasn’t going to waste this opportunity by getting upset, so I didn’t. Even though I felt like I might die walking straight up the side of a mountain all alone, and although I wished I was a faster hiker, I just kept telling myself I would get there, and it was okay.
Before too long the steep hill flattened and I was able to walk on a flat path, much more comfortable than the initial ascent. Then someone noticed that I had a slower pace and she came back for me. Due to my strong desire to stay positive, I hadn’t been upset at being last, and yet this small act of kindness was not lost on me.
As I knew we would, we finally arrived at the top of the mountain and rejoiced in the beautiful view. Twice I had abandoned my comfort zone. First in booking the retreat, and second in walking up the steep hill, yet only through putting myself through that discomfort was I able to enjoy the astounding view with the other women.
We treasured our moments there on the top of the mountain. No one seemed in too big of a hurry to head back down. We took lots of pictures, introduced ourselves, told stories, laughed and joked and lingered and I rekindled my friendship with Brittany. Some had come in groups and some had come alone, but we were all there for important reasons. To get away from the regular pressures of life, to be outside in nature, to learn, to connect with other women, to feel a part of something. To have fun…a concept increasingly foreign in my day to day life.
We enjoyed a relaxing walk back to our cars, drove to the campground, ate dinner prepared by a real-life chef, and practiced yoga together. The enchanting location overcame us with its beauty and charm. We slept in tents that had been set up before our arrival. The next morning, we rejoined the yoga circle and listened to the rain pick up, nervous that the intensity of the rain would increase and cut our yoga short.
Not only did it cut out second yoga session short, but it proceeded to pound down on us. We huddled under canopies and enjoyed our lunches while the rain came down. We chatted, we sang, we laughed, we ate, we bonded.
Next, when the rain had finally settled down, we went to an art class where we painted a picture. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t paint the picture with everyone else. I didn’t want to go to the effort, and I didn’t think I would be able to make my picture look good enough, but I talked myself out of bowing out, and I did just fine. When I got home from the retreat, I put the picture up in my family room where it still sits on my mantle, to remind me that I am a person. Part of, yet separate from my family and my role in my family.
A self-compassionate workshop, was followed by our final yoga circle, the most powerful one. Then we ate one more gourmet meal and our adventure was complete.
I left the retreat feeling like my old self, more confident that I could talk to and make friends with people without so much fear of not being accepted. Inherently, people are kind. Women need each other, and when put in a situation where they have the chance, they will draw close to one another. I am a wife, and I am a mother, and I am a daughter, the caretaker of my aging mother, but I am also more than all of that. I am me. And now and then I need a chance to just be me. This Get Out There Girl retreat gave me a profound opportunity to do just that.
My last blog post polarized people. I got messages asking why I would be cruel and not give someone more than 3 chances to be my friend. I also got messages from people saying they agreed with me and that they had similar boundaries. Why the polarizing? I personally think it’s because people don’t understand the concept of a boundary.
You see, when I created that 3 strike rule for new friendships it had nothing to do with being upset or offended when someone said no to hanging out. I don’t have bad feelings towards another woman when she doesn’t show interest in being my friend and I certainly don’t wish her ill. I don’t judge her or change my behavior towards her after she “strikes out.” It has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.
I’ve always been a people pleaser. I love seeing people happy. If there is something I can do to make them happy I do it, even if it isn’t healthy for me. Over the years, I’ve been hurt and my relationships haven’t been healthy because of this. When I was less mature emotionally, I would be offended when someone would turn me down from friendship. I was sure something was wrong with me, and I was determined to find out what it was and fix it. I needed everyone to be my friend and was distraught when someone wasn’t interested in me.
I learned about boundaries and started implementing them little by little. At first, it was really hard for me to stick to my boundaries, and honestly sometimes it still is. I hate making people uncomfortable and would rather suffer myself than cause someone else discomfort. However, I have learned that boundaries are the key to true connection and are the greatest form of self-love and self-care. Let me try to explain.
Boundaries are the way you share yourself with others. They are the key to trust and cooperation between individuals. If you think about it, this makes sense and feels true. Why are so many of us afraid of opening up and being vulnerable? It’s because we are afraid of being hurt. We are afraid that we will share too much of our story with someone and scare them off. We are afraid that what we share will be used against us, etc. What if we weren’t scared of any of those scenarios? What if boundaries could make you feel safe? Safe enough to share, be vulnerable, and be at peace.
That is exactly what boundaries are designed for. You create a boundary to protect and share yourself with another person. It’s the key to trust and cooperation between people. Boundaries aren’t only about “ME” they are about “ME AND YOU” and being able to connect. Boundaries require you to be honest and responsible with yourself about yourself. They require you to communicate those needs with others. When the people you share those needs with honor them, you are able to feel safe and at peace. It is a wonderful feeling.
Now unfortunately, some people misuse boundaries and create them to control others. This is wrong and burns bridges quickly. So how do you make sure you are setting them correctly and not trying to control others?
Boundaries need to be set from a calm place where you are feeling grounded. You need to be in an honest and responsible state of mind. You need to understand what’s going on inside of you.
When I created my 3 strike friend rule I was able to step back from the hurt and offense and see what was really going on inside of me. As I matured, I was able to determine that whether someone wanted to be my friend or not, I still had value. I didn’t need to change myself in order to accommodate what they liked in a friend and I wasn’t less of a person if they didn’t jump at the chance of a new friendship. Now, after setting up my boundary, I am able to freely and joyfully reach out to new people hoping they will be my friend. I have no reservations.
If after 3 attempts they aren’t showing interest, I don’t go into “people pleasing” mode and I don’t get sad. I have a boundary in place and I move on. I am at peace knowing that I did my part and I am happy with that. When I make a new friend, I know they are interested in being my friend because of my boundary. Because of that I am able to open up and be vulnerable with them. I am honest and share my good and bad with them. I have wonderful, deep friendships because of this. One of my greatest desires is to be a true and loyal friend. This 3 strike boundary is how I make sure I can connect with my friends in a real and valuable way.
1-Clearly state your boundary. Understand what you need to feel safe and at peace. Use specifics: what, when, how, and why. Share this boundary when you are calm and attentive. Use “I” statements when communicating.
2-Clearly state the consequences of the boundary and how you will enforce it. Enforcing your boundary isn’t about controlling another person. You don’t get to say “This is what you will do if you break my boundary.” Instead you say “This is what I will do if you break my boundary.”
3-Don’t set a boundary that you are not willing to enforce.