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.
I met Amy several years ago because we were going through a similar trial. She seemed like a super hero to me. She was confident, calm and knowledgeable. She was all of those things because she had chosen to develop those skills. I love that about her. I’m excited for you to read a small part of her story and see the changes that self-compassion made for her.
I used to think that I had to change who I was or what I was working on to match society’s standards or expectations. That who I was wasn’t enough. I always had to do more and be more. And do and be what other people wanted me to do even if it was different than what I wanted.
In high school and college I was an overachiever to the tee. I remember my freshman year in college, I told my mom about all the clubs I was interested in and trying to be a part of plus my school schedule and she said, “You know it’s impossible to be in EVERY club and do EVERY thing while you’re there, right?” (Even though I knew she was right, part of me still thought I could do it.)
I put so much of my identity and worth in my grades, in my piano performance, in how many cool things I was doing, that I experienced burn out ALL the time. And I wouldn’t even let myself go to sleep sometimes. I remember one night my roommates came back at 3 am from seeing a Harry Potter midnight release. I was STILL up perfecting a paper for my Anthropology class. It was already a great paper before, and I would have loved to go to the movie with them. But I operated from the belief that I couldn’t have fun until all my work was done, and I couldn’t be done until it was perfect. So I didn’t go. I was hustling around trying to earn my worth like a chicken running around with it’s head cut off. I get exhausted just thinking about that stage of my life again! So many expectations!
After I got married, my husband and I ended up having some really hard times and things to work through. And that’s when I really started to learn that I couldn’t ACTUALLY do it all. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to feel emotions and be where I was at. And the situation we were dealing with was in a lot of ways out of my control. So I couldn’t hustle or manage it to make it better. I had to slow down and start learning how to take care of myself and be where I was at so I could start to heal and love myself as I was instead of as I thought I “should” be.
Along the way I learned something pretty cool about compassion. The word compassion actually means “to suffer with.” And another definition of “suffer” is “to support, to allow.” How often do we do this for ourselves? How often do we operate in a space of self-compassion where we offer support to ourselves and allow ourselves to be where we are at? And then to be able to see and love and celebrate who we are? Not enough in my opinion. We seem to constantly be trying to change ourselves or our situations instead of being where we are at and making decisions grounded in true alignment to our highest self.
As I learned to practice self-compassion, I have experienced the greatest peace and confidence in my life. I have learned to actually look at myself and be with myself in good and bad times. To see MY heart and focus on nourishing it and allowing it to grow instead of looking at the people around me and burying my true self with expectations, comparisons and lies about who I am.
Practicing self-compassion–actually being WITH ourselves without comparing believing we need to change who we are to grow–is powerful. And I believe that’s the most important journey any woman can embark on. It’s not about becoming someone different, it’s about discovering and resting in the strength of who we ALREADY ARE. I believe that a woman who knows who she is and whose she is is the most powerful force for good on this earth! So no matter where you are on this journey, stay on the trail! It will be the best view you’ve ever seen with lots of beauty on the way!
Along with my story, I wanted to share one simple act of compassion that I’ve used in my journey. And you can do it right now. 🙂 Put your hand on your heart. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, and say to yourself “I see you and I love you [insert your name].” It’s a simple gesture that can be the next step to resting the strength of who you already are.
Life isn’t easy for anyone. No one gets a free pass for escaping life’s hard trials. Ember has been through a lot and has learned to choose self-compassion as she battles things that are out of her control. I look up to Ember and love her attitude. Something that she didn’t mention in her story is how she has been crushing her goals and keeping her commitments to herself. Self-compassion is motivating in the best way possible. Thank you for sharing Ember!
As a busy mom of 5 kids over the span of 10 years, I was accustomed to being tired. As the symptoms started piling up, I knew something was wrong. The overwhelming fatigue, hair falling out, unexplained weight gain, anxiety, migraine headaches and depression were starting to dictate my everyday life. I set out on a quest to find out what was wrong. A few months later I found myself face to face with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease (an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid).
It was a hard blow to me as an active mom, a dancer and an overall healthy woman who enjoys getting out and doing things with my kids and friends. As I searched for answers from medical professionals and started on my healing journey, I realized I needed to be gentle with myself through the whole process.
Once I was able to find answers and work through my medical issues, I embarked on a personal development journey to dig deep and rekindle the fire within me. I really focused on who I really was and accepting every part of me. I was able to manage my thoughts and have a more fulfilling life. I started choosing joy more often.
Then last summer I attended a “Get Out There Girl” Yoga retreat. The retreat was a culmination of many things for me. It was a peaceful getaway where I could just be me. It was a wonderful time to connect with Mother Nature and feel at peace. A safe place to connect with amazing women and learn from their life experiences. It was an awakening for my inner self as we did our Yoga practice each morning and evening. Next came the self-compassion workshop taught by Lisa Goff and it was just what I needed to hear and was a real culmination of my personal development journey. It felt like the last piece of the puzzle fell into place for me.
I realized that I needed to be kinder to myself through the process of getting back to feeling more like myself. I needed to approach this stage of life with compassion and give myself space and time to heal. And also to allow myself to feel and process all the emotions that came along with it. I had been being gentle with myself, but this concept of self-compassion really opened my eyes and empowered me in a whole new way. It has been a wonderful gift that has helped me start feeling great again — both physically and mentally. Best of all, self-compassion is such an integrated part of my life and will continue to help me embrace every stage of life that comes my way.
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.
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.