Self compassion isn’t something that was ever easy for me. Nor was it even on my radar. But during the pandemic we were given the time to assess and learn more about each other and about ourselves. My friend Kelly Hyatt was running a Mindful Self Compassion course online. We had worked together number of years ago and have kept in touch via Facebook (yes, social media does have its positives!). Careers and personal lives evolved like everyone else’s. But after experiencing her own deepened awareness and compassion for others as well as her own self-care journey, Kelly realized just how important these life-skills were. She became a Mindful Self Compassion teacher offering a safe space for healing and self discovery through Mountain View Compassion. I was very interested in what she was offering.
The 8-week virtual live course would host an intimate group of students. My initial thought was wondering if I could commit to this? I don’t have a routine schedule and my nights are often filled with events. But could I? I stepped back and understood that all these are my own intentional choices. Of course I could make this work. My schedule was all mine. If I truly believed that I can make the time, I will. And I did.
Something I’ve been working on this year is being more aware of self-sabotaging actions and thoughts. That means, making excuses that would set us up for immediate failure. If you tell yourself that you CAN’T do something or making up excuses then you’ll believe it. But same goes for the opposite. Tell yourself that you CAN. Trust me, it works. I’ve been trained myself to be in tune with that inner voice that can be limiting every time I hear the words no, you can’t, or don’t bother! Being conscious and making the effort to change that mindset is something we can do.
Self sabotaging is something many of us do without realizing it. That was the first important lesson for myself in trying to understand where that came from. What was the root of this mentality? Upbringing probably had a lot to do with it.
Culturally, I was raised the concept of being told that I was never good enough. Got an 80% on that math test? Why not 90%? Got 90%? Why not 95%. The idea is rooted in the believe that if praised, then it would result in one not to try harder, work faster or reach higher. But unravelling that mentality isn’t easy. Growing up with this mentality of being not good enough was tough. And in turn, gave that inner voice that strength to say “you’re not that special.” It also meant I often would take the safest route instead of pushing myself to see what potential is in front of me.
When Kelly asked our group what we wanted to work on, I also immediately said I wanted to understand how to set boundaries. This was, and still is, a really tough one. Pretty sure I’m not the only one who considered themselves as a “people pleaser”. I’m always hoping I am present for everyone else, but with that mentality can come with sacrifices of my own self-worth, care and boundaries.
Saying “no” to others within reason is difficult for me. It’s not an easy one to change when others depend on you — because that was the expectation you’ve created and have allowed to happen in the past.
We all have lots happening in our personal and professional lives. We all feel the need to help others around us as much as we can. But how are we taking care of ourselves in the process? Having self-compassion isn’t about being selfish. It’s about taking care of yourself.
One of the many exercises in the course was about Self-Criticism and Safety…
Kelly encouraged each of us in the group to think about how we give our family and friends nurturing words when they feel down and out versus how what our inner voices say to us.
A friend comes to you and tells you she had a bad day at work with a meeting that didn’t appear to go so well.
What would you say to them? Probably something like “Oh, it probably wasn’t as bad as you thought!” or “I’m sure you did great! You always do!”
But, what if YOU had a bad day with the same feelings? Would your inner voice be just as gentle? Or are you like me and internally say, “fuck, I’m such an idiot. I messed that up!”
What’s that saying? We are our own worse critics. But can we be kinder to ourselves? Let’s try.
Why I loved this course…
First off, it felt like a safe space. How meaningful and open the conversations were with strangers took me by surprise. In a small group of eight we were able to respect each other’s time and space. No pressure to always speak. We could sit in our feelings and digest the night’s topic in whatever way was most comfortable for each of us.
We always opened with a loving and kind meditation. Words that would carry us through each week.
This course wasn’t about anyone needing “fixing” including ourselves. We were reminded to be non-judgemental and compassionate in listening and receiving. No one was here to give advice and the journey of self-discovery felt honoured.
Understanding good intentions was naturally part of this group. This aligned with my core believes. People generally have good intentions.
We also were given space to explore our own thoughts. Kelly mentioned if writing down thoughts was an activity we enjoyed, then journaling might be something good for our everyday lives.
“If you keep a journal regularly, your self-compassion practice will become even stronger and translate more easily into daily life.”
Ultimately I learned what worked for me and how I could naturally apply these tools and discoveries to my daily life.
Nearing the end of the 8 week session we met in person for a silent retreat just outside of Toronto. Kelly led the morning retreat filled with breath work, mentally clearing exercises and fresh air wandering. It was a powerful morning that pulled together everything we had worked on to that point.
But what surprised me was the emotional release I had experienced when meeting all these women for the first time in real life. Having only seen them on screen and sharing our personal stories was pretty incredible. I felt a safe and nurturing community that continues even till this day. They still pop up to say hello and I cherish the time I had to get to know them. I believe there were a few guiding angels amongst us.
Where can you learn more about this course?
The next Mindful Self Compassion course will run virtually September 26 to November 14 on Tuesday evenings.
This supportive online environment is created to learn the important of self-care practices. It’s about the ability to evoke good will and care towards ourselves, especially when we are suffering.
Each week introduces mindfulness exercises to help reflect on how you’re doing, discover what is serving you in your life and encourage subtle shifts that can be made to help.
In this course, you will learn how to
- stop being so hard on yourself
- handle difficult emotions with greater ease
- motivate yourself with encouragement rather than criticism
- transform difficult relationships and interactions
- be more present and cultivate joy
- and embark on a journey of genius self-love and understanding
All incredible tools to have in life regardless of what stage you’re at. To learn more visit mountainviewcompassion.com