Monday, June 20, 2016

Letter writing

I am hoping to attend a short yoga training at the end of October, and I was ordering the books that are prerequisites and this book caught my eye.  I am a huge fan a Brene Brown and I know that Kristin Neff and her just teamed up to offer a class on self-compassion.  I decided to order this book and started reading it last night.  There are various exercises through the book, I am not very far.  In fact I got to the second exercise and felt a huge resistance to do the exercise.  I simply wanted to keep reading the book.  So I put the book down and asked myself "do you want to read the book or do you want to do the work and get change your patterns?"   I tend to motivate myself by using self critism and the way that I talk to myself is appalling.  I have often told Adam if he spent one day in my head and heard what I said to myself he would be shocked.  I am not alone in this, this addiction to self-criticism, and it causes me to increase the feelings of insecurity and leaves me feeling uncertain about myself.  

I decided why not do the exercises?  Not think about them, actually do them. Especially the ones that I am resistant to, the ones that I think I won't do "right."   What better way to hold myself accountable but to share my journey?  (This works for me, not for everyone.).   As I continue to read this book I will share what I do with some of the exercises especially the ones I am resistant to.  I will share my thoughts and writings as much as makes sense, I might edit some things out.  This first example, I am just writing here so no editing things out, just leaving the writing to expose where I am and hopefully when I finish the book I can go back and notice a difference.   (be gentle with me, I am taking off the shell)

This exercise is about letter writing, writing two letters the first one is to write about something that I do not like about myself, to explore the emotions honestly.   The second letter is to pretend I am writing to an imaginary friend with that condition and what would I say to that person?   This is the part I resisted, I could not even think how to approach that, knowing that I am talking to myself, knowing that with each sentence I wrote that little voice in my head would argue with it.  Honestly not even being sure based on what issue I chose if I would be able to imagine compassion.   Here we go:

I feel weak, physically and emotionally.  That weakness makes me lazy, which is why I am not getting better faster.  I am not doing enough to strengthen myself and to take care of myself properly.   This makes me feel unable to contribute to other people's lives, it makes me feel worthless, and not worthy of being seen and heard.  I am not comfortable in my own skin right now, I feel so many limitations and think if I was better, smarter, stronger that I would be able to handle what is going on in my life and still have energy to do the things I want to do.  I feel ashamed of what I have become, I feel grief about losing friends, time and opportunities.  I feel frustrated that no one seems to have "the answer" and I am being told just give it time, just be patient.  I worry that I did something to create my health issue and that despite changing my lifestyle I am still missing something that is preventing me from getting better (self-compassion?).   

Okay I think that was enough to get out the feelings, I stopped because it felt like I started to just hit a reset button and was getting melodramatic.  Taking a moment to pause and breathe before jumping into this next part.  

Let's break this down a little bit.  Let us look at the physical aspect first, if you compare yourself to a year ago then yes in a lot of ways you are weaker, however in terms of body awareness and muscle balance you are much stronger and developed.  You physically struggle with some tasks that were "easy" a year ago, however there are things you can do now that you never thought you could do.  You can breathe in cobra, you are not forcing it like you could do a year ago when you were "stronger," you just do the pose.  It is true no one seems to have the magic antidote for what is going on and it is okay to be frustrated about that, it is okay to feel like there are not enough answers.  You have learned so much that can help, and you are not taking into account how much taking medication, changing a diet and lifestyle changes you.  You are forgetting to look at the fact that your body is working harder then it was before to process the medication and the herbs, even though they are helping it takes energy to absorb, process and remove the toxins assocatiated with this process.  It is understandable you are not comfortable in your skin, you have changed and are still not sure when it will end.  The things that you are learning about yourself are so personal and feel private it is understandable you don't know what to say to people.  However you keep focusing on the change, maybe that is not what people see when they see you, maybe when they ask how you are doing they aren't talking about your illness?  You are focusing on fixing yourself and getting better, you have forgotten to care and comfort for yourself too.   

The emotions are understandable and you are a human being, everyone has those feelings.  Those feelings don't mean that you are weak, they are just emotions.  It has been a tough year, and you have chosen to say "no" to a lot of opportunities but what did you say "yes" to at the same time.  You said "yes" to making yourself a priority even though that is uncomfortable, you said yes to taking the time and being patient with your doctors, therapists, acupuncturist, and loved ones.  Because they are being patient and caring with you.  You have had your life take sharp turns before, and each time you came out different and still happy.  You have managed to laugh in the ER and make people smile even when the pain was so bad all you wanted to do was scream, you are learning to be heard and seen, that is why you feel invisible.  You used to be okay with being invisible, now you are learning to advocate for yourself, to ask for help and to say when you are done and want to be left alone.  Every human being is entitled to that, every human being wants competence in being seen and heard.  

I believe you are doing amazing, you continue to take what you learn and apply it.  You continue to gather new ideas and discard things that don't work, and you continue to go forward, even if you don't see it.  The people around you see it; LISTEN to them more!

That is a good way to end this exercise.  Not sure what the rest of the book holds, something tells me more layers are going to be coming off.

Question of the day:  How would you define self-compassion?   What are your thoughts about that term?

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