Compassion in Action

This week, in two separate back-to-back incidences, I had the honor to hold space for women who were dealing with overwhelming personal challenges.  One who had numerous serious issues and limited financial ability to address them; the other who, along with her husband had been laid off months ago, had deflated self-esteem and major relationship stress and strain.  They each carried heavy burdens, heavy hearts.  A few moments after greeting these women, they were sobbing uncontrollably and apologizing to me for it.  Why is it that we feel we must be strong all the time?  Why can’t we just admit that sometimes life deals us more than we can bear at the moment?  It doesn’t make us weak, it makes us human. 

Honoring the space they were in, giving them permission to be human, without judgement, showing compassion is all that I could do besides handing them tissues.  And when they were ready to hear it, I encouraged them to make a gratitude list.  To write out absolutely everything they have to be grateful for and then read it twice daily.  More if necessary.  And add to it as things come up.  You see, they were so mired in the negative, they couldn’t see the positive.  It happens to the best of us, and sometimes it takes a word from a perfect stranger to reset our perspective.  Such was the case with these ladies. 

When life gives you lemons, how are you coping?  Are you wallowing in self-pity and negativity? Or are you squeezing those lemons and making some sweet lemonade?  It’s ok, even important, to acknowledge feelings of disappointment, frustration or despair but then you must get some perspective.  It’s a glitch, a minor (or major!) setback but you can get back on track.  Remember what you’ve got to be thankful for! 

PS – Later that day, I found out one of the women received a referral for a free MRI to assess her injury.  The power of positive thought!



2 thoughts on “Compassion in Action

  1. I just finished reading The Self Compassion Diet by Jean Fain, and would definitely recommend this book. For those who have tried many diets and are tired of losing weight when you’re on the plan and regaining the weight when you go off the plan, Fain offers a different approach. This is more of a non-diet and more of a lifestyle change and attitude adjustment. It’s not something that you go on and go off, but more of a different way to approach the way you think and feel about the food you eat. Instead of labeling foods as “good” or “bad”, Fain suggests listening to what your body wants and being kind to your body by giving it nutritious delicious food. She suggests treating yourself like you might treat your best friend, with loving kindness rather than being critical and self loathing. She says by doing this, you will naturally lose weight. I was skeptical at first, but throughout the book she mentions many of her clients who have tried this approach and have been successful. She herself was one of those roller coaster dieters who had tried everything, but nothing worked long term until she used her approach of self compassion and loving kindness to lose weight and keep it off. This is not a quick fix, but more of a long term solution to slow steady weight loss. While reading this book, I’ve found myself paying more attention to my hunger and have been paying more attention to what I’m eating and how it tastes and have started to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I’ve also had the desire to eat more delicious nutritious foods and have found that my cravings for sweets have decreased. I will keep this book as a reference to refer back to and will continue to listen to the audio CD to reinforce these practices. I think this book was well written and would recommend it to those who are frustrated with their past weight loss struggles.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree that the yo-yo dieting doesn’t work and that listening to what your body is telling you is a good start. So many of us are conditioned to not listening, like when parents tell you to “clean your plate”, when you’ve intuitively realized you were finished. We also need to realize what we think is hunger may be thirst. And, of course, being kind to ourselves is always a more effective way to encourage behavioral change!

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