How do you practice compassion? Do you reserve your compassion for certain people or situations?
A few weeks ago a dear friend shared one of her upsets with me. She was feeling shame because she had stopped exercising, eating healthy and had gained some weight. She was annoyed that in only 6 weeks she was left feeling flabby and out of shape. Listening to her I realized that she was full of self-loathing and that she was considering just giving up and resigning herself to a life of being out of shape and overweight. She was coming to me out of frustration and was asking for my help and advice.
If this was your friend, how would you show compassion? What help would you provide?
What if this wasn’t the upset of a ‘friend’ but instead it was your own upset? Would you show yourself the same compassion and provide the same help?
This upset is really mine and not a ‘friends’. In the past, I would have reacted to my own upset without compassion. I would have evaluated what had gone wrong, sought advice from health related websites, and instituted new rules in the form of a new diet and exercise regimen. These actions would have relieved the anxiety I was feeling in the short term. Because of The Leadership Gift™ Program, I now know that this type of reaction is The Control Cycle. I also know that this approach is not forgiving and it leaves me feeling bad about myself and even worse if I don’t maintain the new regimen.
In my practice of The Responsibility Process, I spend some quiet time each morning before I start my day looking at my practice and thinking about what I want in the new day. It was during this time that I acknowledged that my actions were not in alignment with what I want my health to be. I stopped myself from going on The Control Cycle and I spent the next several mornings looking for the truth or clarity in my situation. I found it uncomfortable to do this looking because it was bringing me closer to the real problem. While I was looking, I felt a strong urge to seek advice which I pushed away. I also felt a strong urge to institute a new regimen which I pushed away.
What did I do? I started by forgiving myself for this upset and being compassionate with myself, the way I would have done for a dear friend. Next I trusted that I knew what I wanted to do to return to eating healthy and exercising and then I took just one step at a time. One day I took a walk with my dog. The next day I made healthy eating choices more often than not. Next, I resumed using myfitnesspal, a tool that raises my awareness about my eating and exercise.
Can you guess what happened next? One of my friends in The Leadership Gift community sent me encouragement in the form a myfitnesspal message. It was a virtual hug. One of the powerful elements of The Leadership Gift Program is that you become connected to a community of people who are also practicing The Responsibility Process and who support each other through upsets and acknowledge each other for growth.
What have I learned? I have learned that The Power Cycle is a more compassionate way of dealing with life’s upsets.
Cathy Laffan is a member of The Leadership Gift™ Program and recently accredited as The Leadership Gift Practitioner. She is a Managing Director with 24 years of experience working for a leading global financial services firm. She has 20 years of experience in the project management field and is certified as a Project Management Professional.
A champion of flexible work arrangements, Cathy has been working remotely full-time for 4 years. Cathy is also a Toastmaster and has earned the Competent Communicator and Competent Leader designations from Toastmasters International.
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