Loving the darkest parts of ourselves

Loving the darkest parts of ourselves

For some reason there seems to be an underlying belief that we must not feel certain ways and think certain ways. That some ways are bad and some are good. I do agree that some things are helpful and some things less helpful, however there is a reason for your suffering, and the reason isn’t that something is wrong with you.

Some thoughts and feelings can be scary. Just because we are having these thoughts doesn’t mean we will act on them and if we can mindfully observe our thoughts and be curious about them, we become more skilled at not becoming immersed in them.

Many people try to stuff these thoughts and feelings away and think if I don’t entertain it, it will go away.

It doesn’t.

There is also concern about entertaining it too much, and becoming one with it, and immersed in it.

Where is the happy medium?

This comes with increasing the emotional tolerance to observe it and having compassion and curiosity about it.

Even suicidal thoughts serve a purpose and when understood and met with compassion, the thoughts decrease and do not become overwhelming.

How is it possible to have compassion for these dark places?

Usually the process starts out slowly because depending on your age, these internal systems have been working on auto pilot for quite some time. Therefore it is going to take a while to sort out the intricate foundation that has been laid in the mind and body. But know this system was built for a reason. It had an important purpose at one time in your life. It’s just that now the coping mechanisms are starting to cause other problems, so the system just needs some re-working and tuning up really to fit what your life looks like now, vs. what it was before.

Increasing our ability to feeling calm is paramount in this process. When we numb emotionally we numb out the calm too. Thus emotional exercises are recommended.

When we experience thoughts and feelings we don’t like, would rather not have, and find to be inherantly unhelpful, I encourage you to stretch your mind and be curious about what the benefit is. There is a benefit as weird as it might seem. When you realized the benefit, the emotion starts to lighten up a little bit and things start to make sense, and you feel more “normal.”

When things start to make more sense, and you feel better you now have more agency to dig in and provide compassion for these wounded parts of self, making room for healing.

This folks, is the process. It’s a difficult one and takes a lot to “go there.” If you want the amazing things in life, love and connection, happiness and joy, then working through the dark places are essential. Otherwise you’ll be left with an internal battle competing for space, instead of a community filled with diversity that always comes together in the end.

Why I bought an alarm clock in 2017

Why I bought an alarm clock in 2017

This isn’t going to come as a surprise to many people, but I have a Facebook addiction problem. I spend more time on it then one would recommend as being healthy. I know over the past couple years my use increased a lot – I mean I always used it a lot before and before facebook there was myspace and AOL instant messenger and I’ve basically been connected to the world at large since age 11 but there has been something excessive or unnerving to me recently and having the motivation and desire to want to change it.

Over the past year with stepping further into self-employment Facebook has been a means of connecting with colleague around the world, learning how to run a business and furthering my skills and education. I believe this really increased my use as before it was just a social thing and it has just gotten to the point that it has infiltrated so much!

I knew I needed to do something….. but what?

I’ve been experimenting with solutions because there is a lot of good and benefit that come from social media and FB use (for me I know others don’t feel that way). The first thing I tried was deleting my app off my phone so I would be restricted to desktop usage. Which resulted in me missing social functions and using FB too much while at work. I did this a few times and currently have decided I need to have it on my phone so step two was to take off my notifications – which is helpful – when I’m busy. But still not helpful when I’m “bored” aka “avoiding shit.”

This week I started my most recent step which is not bringing my phone to bed with me. I talk to clients about sleep hygiene all the time and for a while my sleep hygiene was on par but has gone downhill the past couple years and I need to address it. It got worse when I was nursing throughout the night because what else are you going to do? That’s right… go on your phone.

I have heard of the solution of not bringing the phone to bed but I’ve always just said “well my phone is my alarm clock.” I always thought it was stupid to have an alarm clock. I mean I don’t think I’ve had one in maybe 10 years! Therefore I never really entertained the idea of buying an alarm clock and leaving my phone in the kitchen upon bedtime. Until now.

Finally I got over myself and said “just buy a fucking alarm clock.” So I did.

I specifically googled “cordless” because I didn’t feel like dealing with cords and shit. I wanted to buy something small without the bells and whistles like a radio…. Pretty advanced stuff, I know. And I wanted something that looked good to me. $40 and a few days later I got my brand new alarm clock in the mail!

Easy peasy.

I just started using it on Monday and I know it won’t solve ALL of my problems, even my problems with phone and social media use, but I do believe it will be a solid step in the right direction.

I hope that by using my alarm clock I will
1. Improve my sleep quality
2. Calm my mind
3. Allow me to be present with myself and others and
4. Reduce dependency on Facebook
5. Increase productivity

I know that’s kind of a tall order but I know there are more steps to be taken, and I can’t take the next step until I take this one… I guess I could jump ahead, but jumping has always been a scary thing for me and sometimes I need to feel it out a bit in the beginning before I jump two steps at a time. Even then I go back to one step cause bigger steps are more tiring and sometimes I need a breather to recover.

I’m excited to give this a try for a couple weeks and see what this step it will provide me. I’m curious as to what my next step will be and what that is going to look like. But 2017 needs to have some simplification and focus… And I know I can’t simplify and focus when I’m scrolling through FB, whether it be for fun, or for business.

Dear Grieving America, 2016 election

Dear Grieving America

Dear Grieving America,

I understand you are scared. I understand you are sad. I understand you are afraid.

Fear does not bring unity. Fear breeds division. Fear is not rational. Fear is held in your amygdala providing you with body responses that you do not want to have.

Acknowledge it. Know it. Tend to it.

Your fear is an illusion on what you FEEL may come. It is not productive. It will not help our country. It will not help disadvantaged populations. It will not bring change.

Please tend to you fear. The country needs you to not be afraid right now. In a time of division we MUST come together and that can only happen with understanding, love and hope.

Share your fears with your friends, be heard and understood. Keep the fear off your newsfeed. Have a cup of coffee with a friend. Get together and talk about your values with like minded people. Meditate. Be mindful. Relax. Get a massage. You will be OK. The Country needs you to be OK. You cannot advocate for change if you are not OK.

When you are more in your “okayness” take a step back. Find values that you SHARE with trump and his supporters. That’s right, you share values with them.

Whether it be getting rid of lobbyists, implementing term limits, paid maternity leave for women… I’ve even heard him say he wants to protect and support our LGBT community. I know we can’t believe everything that comes out of his mouth (or anything?) but if we go by that logic we can’t believe the negative either. Yes, it’s a shot in the dark, we don’t know, but please lets start on the places that we DO stand together on.

If we can get behind the republican majority on the SHARED issues then that can be a focus and we can make something positive over the next 4 years and in that time maybe the DNC will get their shit together and not let greed inform their decision making.

Liberals have been so worried about the black population, the Hispanic population, Muslims, refugees and more that we have disregarded the white working poor who have made their voice heard in this election. They too have been suffering. We not only let them suffer but we ignored them and they got louder and louder until now, and their voices have been heard. If we KEEP ignoring them we will push them further away. Listen, activate, change, and bring together. To further understand what I’m talking about PLEASE listen to this podcast.

Yesterday a client told me that balance only happens in motion. Standing straight is not balance because it is static and balance is the coming back to the center.

The right have felt off balance for some time now and the country asked to come back to center. The country is trying to balance itself out. A whole group feels ostracized, ignored, and devalued. We can’t have people feeling like this in our country.

We MUST love them. We MUST be compassionate. We MUST love our country and ALL the people inside of it. If LOVE trumps HATE then we must act in accordance with our believes. Your fear is not congruent with your speak. You actions toward conservatives are not congruent with your proposed compassion.

Please. Take a deep breath. Tend to your fears and your wounds. Fear will not drive us forward, but healing and love will.

Will my mom ever understand me

Will my mother ever understand me?

Most of my clients struggle in their relationship with their mother by feeling unfulfilled, not understood, ignored… it is a difficult issue that is visited often in therapy.  My clients wonder if the relationship will get better, but the first part is understanding mom, her past and how that has a role in the process. Below I demonstrate this process via a made-up conversation with a client.  I talk a lot in this conversation to communicate the information but an actual session would usually look much different!

Dialogue:

Client: My mom was physically abused by her father and she favored my older sister – my aunt. They never get along – her an my aunt.  I shouldn’t have anything to complain about though, because I wasn’t beat. My dad worked a lot and mom made sure we had what we needed.  So my mom thinks I should be more appreciative to her. I try to be, but at the same time I feel like she just doesn’t understand me or even really knows who I am.  

Me: It’s great your mom was able to make some changes for you by not allowing physical abuse in the house and I can see she wanted you to have a better life. It’s one thing to enforce no physical abuse in the home, but another beast to handle emotions differently.

Client: What do you mean, Stacey?

Me: There is an art and comfort level in working through emotions. Growing up, it sounds like your mother must have felt unsafe most of the time. Being abused, especially in the home is so tragic not only because of the act of the abuse, but because your HOME is not a safe place and that is a huge loss.

Being in a perpetual state of feeling unsafe increases anxiety symptoms and it is difficult to experience calm. Hopefully your mother developed some positive coping skills to feel safe that may have been activities in school, going for walks, or out playing with friends, but maybe she was expected to come home after school to make dinner, watch and manage her siblings and continue to be in this unsafe environment. I wonder how your mom coped with such a difficult upbringing.

Client: Well she did leave the house at a young age and I think some of her boyfriends at the time weren’t really that good. So I’m sure she was trying to escape from that.

Me: Let’s do an exercise (does affect management worksheet)

_________________________________________________________________________

Client: My mom would say things like:

“You shouldn’t feel that way”  or “no I didn’t do that” – she denies everything.  She doesn’t really remember what I have to say, and when I tell her how I feel she says I’m attacking her and never admits to blame because she is the mom…

Me: I can see why your mom didn’t want you to experience negative feelings as it’s hard to see loved ones suffering, however it sounds like you felt like your feelings are wrong which is negative judgement and essentially tell you how to feel and what feelings are “right” and what feelings are “wrong.”

I’m also wondering if mom feels you are attacking her because she was verbally abused as a child and her nervous system is just reacting because she hears she did something wrong.  Taking responsibility for how she is contributing to your feelings is just too much for her to handle because she would have to feel and based on the exercise we did it sounds like she shuts her emotions down a lot or channels them into anger or anxiety.  

Client: That makes sense, I just wish she would take the time to understand me.

End scene

__________________________________________________________________________

This is a rough example of the trauma cycle. We often don’t look at how emotions were handled in the home growing up and why emotions were handled so poorly. My clients often report not being able to manage their emotion (being too sensitive) or feeling cut off and disconnected (shut down). It takes a lot of education, knowledge, awareness and practice to make some of these changes that are deeply ingrained in the psyche.  It helps to understand not only a little bit about what mom experienced growing up but how it explains that she didn’t have the skills to be able to help you in the way that you needed to. It is an unfortunate circumstance but my clients report receiving a lot of insight and ability to make steps to move forward when there is a basis of understanding.  

Without understanding, self-blame happens easily.  It makes sense.  Usually we are punished when we did something wrong “you don’t treat your sister that way, now go to your room” you know you are punished and miserable because you did something wrong.  When you are miserable, feeling ignored, misunderstood and sad in your room and didn’t do anything you begin to find reasons to understand.  “Well if I do this,  maybe she will treat me differently; if I was only better at __ maybe she would love me…. If I only…”  This is the message that gets hardwired neurons firing creating highways to self-blame and low self-esteem.  By understanding the trauma cycle, we know our character is now flawed, we are not inherently bad or unlovable, we are figuring out how to make it in the world, how to be loved, how to be accepted and our behaviors just follow suit.

Welcome Video!

Welcome to my website! Please watch this video to learn more about what I do, what I’m passionate about, and how I can help you. When you are done watching this video, and have called me to make an appointment at 585-967-6996 head over to my office tour video so you know where you’re going :)

How to take a nap without feeling like you suck at life

How to take a nap without feeling like you suck at life

There is a lot of information out there about napping and it’s confusing.  There are power naps, certain rules on the best amount of time to nap, when to nap, if we should even nap at all!  It’s honestly, too much for me to handle.

While everyone is proposing the new and latest best way to nap (or not nap) I’d like to address a helpful tip that honestly, has nothing to do with napping, but can make all the difference.

First of all, I don’t really give a shit if you nap for 10 minutes or if you nap for 3 hours.  Do whatever your little heart desires to do.  The catch is when you wake up.

When you wake up from a nap are you saying:

“Fuck!”

“Why did I take a nap I have so much shit to do!!”

“That was a complete waste of time”

“I”m lazy”

“I suck at life”

“Will I ever stop having the needs of a 3 year old?!”

Now you feel like shit.  Right? Of course you do you just berated yourself for listening to your body and doing what it needed to do.  You have now likely undone any benefit of your nap because you are in a negative mental space.

When we feel like shit we are more likely to say, “oh man I slept 47 minutes.  I should have either slept 20 or 90 according to that article I just read online.  That’s why I still feel like crap.”

Well, maybe?  But let’s be honest.  You are probably feeling like crap from all that negative self-talk you just vomited about yourself.  And now you’re running around the house like a mad person pissing everyone off in your path in order to make up for that 47 minutes of lost time in which you probably weren’t going to be productive with any of it anyways because you were too damn tired.

Panic attack ensues…

I (hopefully) painted a lovely picture for you.

How to take a kick-ass nap:

Take a nap whenever you want! If your eyelids are drooping and you just “can’t even” take a nap.

If you’re at work… don’t take a nap.  Someone will fire your ass.

If you have a small child who is outside playing… don’t take a nap.  Your kid will get seriously injured, lost, or die.

If you’re driving… don’t take a nap.  Pull the car over first in an area where it is safe to pull your car over…

Hopefully common sense can take over from here.  Otherwise, if you are tired and say “I need a nap right now” and if napping would not cause death or serious harm to yourself or another, or job loss or some other social catastrophe, then go ahead and take a nap!

Now for the real work…..

The real work comes in when you awake from your nap.  The first thing to do is just be mindful of your thoughts and observe them.  If you notice any negative shit floating around then recognize that and challenge the thought.

“I’m not lazy, I work really hard” (maybe even provide an example or two)

“I don’t suck at life, I’m obviously performing so well at it that I needed to take a break for a minute”

“Yes, I’ve got shit to do, but it isn’t the end of the world and now I feel better and have more energy to be productive.”

Get the idea?

Just like magic that nap was suddenly a grand idea, you’re not beating yourself up, you are refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.  Maybe even with a smile :)

And that is how to take a nap without feeling like you suck at life

How to use mindfulness while you're taking a shower and your toddler is crying

How to use mindfulness while you’re taking a shower and your toddler is crying

Once you really get the hang of mindfulness practice, you realize you can use it anywhere, even in ridiculous situations (such as the title of this blog post).  You don’t have to stop what you’re doing in order to be mindful (but you do have to change what you’re thinking).

I think the shower is a great place to practice mindfulness.  It is full of a lot of sensory input especially with touch and smell (unless if you use all unscented things). The awesome thing about a shower (or bath) is that your biggest organ (your skin) is getting a lot of attention!  The nice warm water hitting your skin over and over again…..  It’s pretty awesome.

New moms (and dads too) talk about how they can’t even shower in peace.  And for me that is true.  My little one stands by the shower screaming because I am not available to her.  But with some singing and playing peek-a-boo with the shower curtain, showers can be tolerable.

I don’t want to be singing twinkle twinkle and playing peek-a-boo with the shower curtain, I want to go back to my peaceful, mindful showers….

My solution may sound silly to most people, but hey, I do what works.  I’m all about efficiency.

The other day I experimented and decided to sing my mindful thoughts in the shower.  I sang about the warm water hitting my skin, the white soap bubbles on my legs, the lovely smell of lavender shampoo…. And much much more.  I basically just sang everything I was noticing about my experience and engaging the use of my senses.

Mindfulness doesn’t need to be a relaxing serene experience.  It can involve singing what you’re noticing while your child is unhappy.  It is in that moment that you are not thinking “this is the worst shower in the world” or “will you please stop crying, I’m right here!” You’re noticing what you’re experiencing, and simultaneously calming your child with you’re amazing vocal talents. The serenity comes from the absence of negative thoughts.

I hope this example illustrates that mindfulness can be used anywhere, all the time.  I have clients that are the overly-busy sort and sometimes send messages like, “I don’t have time to do your skills but fix my anxiety anyway.” One of the most difficult things about anxiety treatment is taking the time to work on getting better. These “hacks” come in really handy if you feel you don’t have the time to use the skills.  Parents especially complain of this so I thought this funny example would be helpful as often people might ask how to me mindful when there is a toddler around… or child or any other time demanding responsibility…

If you can’t make lifestyle changes yet, or if your circumstance doesn’t allow you to quietly sip tea outside and watch the leave rustling in the light wind, you can still be mindful, you can still stop the negative thoughts, and you can still experience peace of mind.

Give it a try… let me know how it works for you :)

Can I be my authentic self if I wear makeup

Can I be my Authentic Self if I wear Makeup?

I felt inspired to write this blog post after my friend Anne Van Dusen  posted a picture of herself in her natural hair color, gray (or silver if you will).  I am not at that point in my life of making the decision that many women go through of, “do i dye my hair? Or let it turn and show the world my age?!”  Personally I could not relate; however, it brought up an issue that I HAVE struggled with that is similar and mainly another female struggle.

I value authenticity (no duh).  I have been on a journey of working toward my authentic self and plan to continue on this journey for quite some time.

If you know me, you know I’m not a “makeup person.”  I have friends who are makeup people and I have friends who don’t wear makeup at all.  There are a lot of beliefs that people hold about makeup.  Why we wear it, how much we should wear, what kind to wear.  It’s actually pretty complicated (or so it seems to someone like me).

I first started wanting to wear makeup when I was an early teen and would take my moms stuff to try and hide my breakouts.  I really never got “fully” into makeup.  A part of me always felt guilty for wearing it.

Why guilty?

I would hear things like “well, you don’t need to wear makeup… I need to wear it… but you don’t”  Or “makeup is fake, you don’t want to be fake” or “makeup makes some people look so ugly”  and on and on negative comments about makeup.

I was afraid of the message I would send if I wore makeup.  Am I telling the world I’m not pretty?  What if I do it wrong and look worse?  I don’t want to seem fake….

Down and down into the spiral of the makeup conundrum.

Over the past 15+ years I’ve always worn what I consider to be minimal makeup and often don’t wear it as well.  I’ve never developed a good relationship with makeup but we have coexisted as part of necessity to cover blemishes, part of being a woman, and being careful not to overuse for fear of fakeness. (that doesn’t seem to be a word)

A few years ago I wanted to try and give up makeup.  I can’t remember the exact reasons but maybe because my husband isn’t a big makeup fan, or maybe because I wanted to save time in the morning, or maybe it was because of the person I wanted to present to the world as not caring about how I looked and being OK with the natural thing.

I went a while without wearing makeup, but after a week or so I found myself wanting to put it on.  Not because I HAD to, but because I WANTED to.  There was learning here but I didn’t adequately reflect upon it.

The question remains, can I be my authentic self, if I wear makeup??

Does your authentic self wear makeup?
Do you like makeup?
Do you WANT to wear makeup?
Are you wearing it out of necessity?
Do you do it because you think you’re ugly?
Do you wear it because it feels good?
Does someone else want you to wear makeup?
Does someone else NOT want you to wear makeup?
Are you experiencing “BUTS” like  “I want to wear makeup but….” or “I don’t want to wear makeup but….”

By going through these questions and analyzing more about WHY you wear or don’t wear makeup, you’ll come to realize more about what you truly WANT to do and if your authentic self is someone who does or doesn’t wear makeup or anything in between!! Remember answers don’t have to be black and white!!

You might find that some days you want to wear makeup and other days you don’t!

Am I authentic if I change my mind like that?  Shouldn’t I be the same every day?!

I think this is a myth too.  We find what we like and then we need to stick to it, unwavering, or else we might be seen as the flip flop politician.

Newsflash, you’re allowed to change your mind.  You don’t need to be the SAME every day.  We are not the same every day!! We learn, we grow, we experiencing things…. All these things require change!

Does your authentic self wear makeup?  Yes, no, sometimes… only you can answer that question.  Hopefully this blog post will help you through the makeup conundrum or something similar.  As it doesn’t have to be about makeup…. that was just the example I used :)

Ultramarathon Life Lessons

4 Life Lessons from running my first Ultramarathon

I’ve read a good number of race reports in the recent years as I have gotten more into trail running and longer distances.  I always enjoy hearing about what people learn about themselves on these adventures and generalizable life lessons.  Having just ran my first long distance of that kind, I wanted to reflect on some key points that I was able to take away from my race.

What intrigues me about ultra running is similar to what intrigues me about therapy.  I am fascinated with humans and what we are capable of both physically and mentally.  Being a therapist I get to go on so many journeys of people’s most vulnerable, darkest, intimate, thoughts and feelings and ultra running facilitates vulnerable, dark, intimate thoughts and feelings! Running is just one component in my life that I use to understand myself, life, pain, humans, and internal processes.

Why running and not something else?????  – Because I’m not coordinated. Haha :-P

Without further ado, here are my life lessons learned from running my first ultramarathon:

1. Say, “I’m not Okay” when you’re not OK.

To make a long story short the course was harder than I expected it to be and I fatigued earlier than I expected I would resulting in feeling defeated sooner than I hoped and the slew of negative emotions that came with it.  I realized the course was harder on the first loop.  I ignored it.  I ignored it so much I ran slightly faster the 2nd loop.  I started to realize I couldn’t keep that up and ran the 3rd loop well, but not as fast.  Then I was TIRED! And only halfway through.  It wasn’t until a couple miles in my 4th loop at the midway point aid station that I finally exclaimed “I’m NOT Okay.”

It’s important to give yourself permission to not be OK and voice it.  Society seems to look down on us when we don’t have our shit together.  This adds a lot of stress because not only do we not have our shit together, but we can’t even admit it and have to live this fake life of having your shit together… causing even more stress.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Pretending everything is fine gets you no where….

By finally accepting I wasn’t Okay and voicing it out loud I was able to address it and receive support from others which brings me to my 2nd point.

2. Accept help from others

Americans have an unhealthy attachment to independence so much that I think we progress slower as a society because we are not a team that works together but an independent, narcissistic, power hungry, capitalist competition machine…. But I’m not going to go down that road.

We don’t get ahead in life alone, we get help and it’s OK to get help, it’s normal to get help and hell, life is easier to receive help, so accept help from others (which can only be had by admitting we need it and we aren’t OK – see point 1).

Anywho, back to my run.  On my 4th loop after I exclaimed “I’m not Okay,” I was able to receive encouragement and support from others.  One particular runner was very helpful by giving me permission to slow down, let go of my ego goals, recover, and focus on the main goal at hand – finishing.  This leads me to my 3rd point.

3. Be flexible

I’m a stubborn person and if I’m determined I don’t let up.  This leads to things like never ending arguments with my husband if he doesn’t agree with me… I don’t let up.  The first 3 loops I was determined to get to my goal of under 7 hours clocking a pace that would get me there for sure.  After I admitted I wasn’t OK, and got support from others, I was able to be flexible with my goal and settled on my main goal of finishing.  I had to detach from whatever ego goal I had that had no bearing on my self-worth and just focus on the task at hand – finishing.  So I was still determined and making progress, but not so hard and rigid with myself.  Because as Brandon Boyd so eloquently tells us, “to resist is to piss in the wind, anyone who does will end up smelling.”  This leads me to my next point.

4. Be kind to yourself

To recap: I’m not okay, accepting support from others, being flexible with my goals, and as a result need to be kind to myself.  I couldn’t beat myself up for slowing up and doing what my body needed to recover because beating myself up would have resulted in more negative self-defeating thoughts and it’s hard to run an ultramarathon with negative self-defeating thoughts.  Also, it’s hard to live a happy fulfilling life with negative self-defeating thoughts.

I had to say thanks body.  You’ve gotten me this far.  You can get through 31 miles – I know it. I will help you out by walking for a while and recovering as I should have listened to you the first 3 loops when I realized the course was harder than I expected for my sub 7 hour time goal.  So I was nice to my body, and kind to myself, and my body rewarded me!  How awesome is that.

By the time I got to the aid station again where I had had my mini breakdown, I was feeling better.  My body recovered and I was back to running and feeling good again like I did in the beginning.  I had lost too much time to meet my time goal, but I finished my race and felt strong though the finish line.

By being nice to myself I was able to finish with a smile and feeling good rather than feeling defeated and unworthy. Kindness goes a long way.


So those are my life lessons from this particular 50k.  I’m really thankful for that difficult time I had during the race because I learned more about myself and the lessons I outlined above.  If everything was hunky-dory, I wouldn’t have had that experience.  It is the experience, and in those rough moments, that the learning happens and the process of overcoming that makes being human super awesome and super special.

Thanks for reading my fun random life lessons.  Not planning on running another 50k in my immediate future if you’re wondering.  Going to focus on work and family for a while, but may visit a 50k again sometime in the future. :)

Body Compassion Athlete

How Body Compassion helped me to become a better Athlete

Some of you know that I’m training for my first ever 50k.

I tried to do something different during my training and since I’m currently tapering, I’m especially focusing on it now.

It’s body compassion

What is body compassion??

It is self-compassion focused specifically on the body.

If you asked me if I hated my body I would tell you “no.”  But after becoming more aware of my self-talk regarding my body you would really question that answer because I realized I don’t say anything positive to my body and have been pretty demanding toward it. I’m sure if I never said anything positive to you and only negative and demanding things, you probably would think that I wouldn’t like you.  I realized my body must feel that I don’t like her.

How do you be nice to your body?

Compliment it, thank it, recognize its achievements and accomplishments.

Now, I’m going to be completely honest with you guys, having a baby really helped me to start my body compassion journey.

I think it was the first time ever in my life I was able to say, “wow body, you’re freaking amazing. You just made a baby and you continue to sustain its life by providing all the nourishment it needs.”

You don’t have to have a baby to practice body compassion, it helped bring my awareness for me personally that it was something I needed to work on.

Endurance sports or any sport or physical activity is a great means to practice body compassion. I think if you do engage in sports it is beneficial or I would say even necessary to practice body compassion! It has really helped me to enjoy the sport better and sit in the positives rather than getting caught up on the negatives.

Compliment it, thank it, recognize its achievements and accomplishments….

I do a weekly workout called FIT1, an outside boot camp of sorts with this super awesome instructor named Gustavo.

I often struggle with body compassion during FIT1. Because I am asking my body to do difficult things, it is easy to be MAD at my body for not performing to expectations. For WANTING and EXPECTING it to do more.

DON’T BULLY YOUR WAY INTO IMPROVEMENT

I have realized that when it comes to working out, I have constantly been bullying my body into becoming a better athlete. And let me tell you this, IT DOESN’T WORK.  At least not for me

What does work?  How are you coming a better athlete?

Body compassion.

I know when I think of working out I think of PUSHING HARDER.

GO PAST YOUR LIMITS

DO MORE

DIE AND KEEP GOING

Society somehow taught me this.  No one specifically told me to do this.

I pushed…..for years….. and as I did I experienced Injury after Injury….

Which just increased the body shaming……“You piece of shit body, you can’t do anything, you can’t even RUN and that requires no skill”

Body shaming was at its peak and I was in a downward spiral of injury and negativity.

Compliment it, thank it, recognize its achievements and accomplishments….

The difficult part is that improvement takes time. It took me a couple years to finally say to my body, “great work on consistently performing double bunny hops; you couldn’t do them for so long. I understand it was hard for you to do and I’m grateful you can do them now, even at the end of class when you’re tired.”

You don’t have to be making improvements to be compassionate.

“Thanks for getting me through my workout today, I noticed you were struggling more than normal, WHAT DO YOU NEED?”

Instead of berating your body for not meeting your expectations, be compassionate and find out what it needs in order to perform better.

Is it rest? attention? love? nutrition? relaxation?  Who knows, talk to your body and listen for the answer.

Stacey, my body can’t talk, you’re crazy.

I disagree.

Your body is talking to you all.the.time.

Listen to your body.  What does it need? What is it telling you?

Might seem weird, or “hippie” like but really, listen to it, watch it, notice it, get to know it so when something is wrong you are more aware of it and can respond to it appropriately.

I have to do this with my daughter.  Being pre-verbal it is difficult to communicate and understand what she needs.  So I have to learn her, know her, and be in tune with her body in order to respond appropriately. Even as her verbal skills are emerging, it is my job as parent to help her connect within herself so she can best communicate her needs.

Children need this – you need it too.

When you connect with your body and give it what it needs it will reward you by performing better and it will be happier.  A happy body helps promote a happy mind and a happy mind promotes a happy body!

So next time you notice yourself start to berate your body for not meeting your expectations I challenge you to be nice and compassionate to it.  Thank it for the hard work it expelled.  I’d be interested to know how this changes the dynamics of your workouts and your relationship with your body and yourself.