Welcome to week three of plantalogies, thank you for growing with me!
Today I’m going to share five easy, repeatable mantras for non judgement.
These can help you dig in to your self compassion and strengthen your compassion for others.
We know that if we want to learn a skill we must repeat the movements over and over to teach our brains what we’re doing. The same goes for thought patterns and mindsets. So often we give up because it doesn’t come naturally, and decide that it’s just not who we are, but that’s not true! It takes just as much effort to purposely inject compassion into our days as it does to learn a new instrument or sport.
The graphics to follow are sized for iPhone wallpaper! Feel free to save one or all of them to have a regular reminder of whichever mantra you're internalizing.
I mentioned this first one in last weeks post, but I’m going to repeat and feature it here because it’s just so powerful:
Brene Brown introduced me to this concept in her book “Daring Greatly”. She shares a narrative of a horrific rooming experience at a speaking engagement, and then how her therapist asked her if she thought people were doing the best that they could, with the information they had in any given moment? Her (and my) automatic response was oh HELL no…
However the question has stuck with me. In traffic, on the phone at work, when That Person is doing the Thing that is Ruining My Life / Day, it was in the back of my mind. What if they’re really just doing their best right now? When I was stressed over my lack of productivity, or the fact that I got to work five minutes late, or that I didn’t cook a homemade dinner, the question gently prodded me “how would you feel if you could accept this as your best for today?”
Grafting this concept in has been a challenge, but it’s also been so rewarding. It gives me a way to release my frustration both with myself and with others. Also, I try to keep in mind that when I get frustrated with other people for being... people... that my frustration with them only messes up my day, it doesn't do anything to them. Getting upset with other people for mundane things only hurts me.
This is something I’ve struggled with intensely. Scarcity is that “not ever enough” feeling. There are really nuanced reasons we feel this way. (There’s a whole chapter on scarcity coming in my book!) However, social narratives teach us that one person’s success means that there’s less available for everyone else. This is especially true as women in patriarchal systems. We are taught that we must be the prettiest, nicest, smileyest, most acceptable (whatever the heck that means) to get anywhere in life. Since men run this show, we take our cues from them, and find ourselves in direct competition with all other women.
So let’s take a step out of the narratives, and look at our lives in light of there being Enough. Enough for everyone to live fully embodied, joyful lives brimming with purpose and love.
Enough to be whole.
This shouldn’t sound like a foreign paradigm, especially for those of us who participate in Christian faith. However we all fall prey to the narratives of scarcity. The sad thing is, we shut ourselves down from fantastic supportive relationships when we live this way. I can tell you that out of my current friend group, several women are those I was at one point intimidated by.
But now they are some of my biggest supporters.
The only thing that changed in those situations was me, and my willingness to reach out authentically.
It’s a natural function of our brains to fill in unknowns and blanks. It’s a basic part of our reasoning. But sometimes we get in our own way when it comes to other people and their stories. We act out of the belief that other people are mostly like us, so they should do things like we do, right?
The reason human beings are so fascinating is that we are all different. We all hold different experiences and stories in us. We have different backgrounds, preferences, and different DNA.
We can never assume we know another person’s story or history. Finding out someone isn’t like us is something to be celebrated and respected.
Let’s be secure enough in who we are to hold that space for others to be themselves fully too.
Making others experiences about us is a really easy thing to do. It can feel like identifying with them. It can feel like offering advice in what seems like a similar situation. But so often we don’t really have the relational tools to take ourselves out of the equation and just be there for THEM.
I’m not a mom (yet) but I see this all the time with pregnant women. On a dime, group conversation goes from what the woman in transition is living, to a parade of war stories and badges of motherhood honor from surrounding women. None of them mean badly, but they have completely made conversation about a life altering event for one woman about their personal validity and worthiness as moms.
So here’s my own rule of thumb - I ask questions and affirm what’s said to me conversationally at least three times as much as I talk about myself. I don’t assume that I know what someone else is going through. I don’t assume that they need me or my experiences. If the conversation shifts, and they start asking me questions too, then I open up more, and know we are tracking.
Have you ever felt just a little (or a lot!) jealous of someone who achieved something BIG? Maybe something you would like to achieve in your life? Whether it’s the friend that actually went on that dream vacation, or graduated from grad school, or runs a successful business… OR, the friend that decided to do compete in bodybuilding and now has washboard abs.
I have. But for the most part, I’ve stopped being jealous of others successes with just a few subtle mindset alignments. This is a big one. Remember the struggle. I’m very rarely jealous of low body fat physiques, because I know exactly how much effort and focus would go into obtaining that, and I am OUT. I’m not in for obsessively tracking every calorie and macronutrient I eat, or bringing tupperwares of my own food to family occasions. Or spending half my weekend making food for the week. I can look at people who have done all this and say wow, that takes a lot of dedication! I can admire their achievements without remotely wanting to go down that road.
When I do get that stab of “I wish that was me”, it’s actually directive. It can mean that I’m not fully living into my purpose, and I can plan to include similar elements. It can mean that may be a future goal I can look towards. It can mean that there’s some element in what that person accomplished that I’m not being authentic and standing in my integrity in. So when that feeling DOES, come it’s an invitation to greater self awareness, not something I sit in.
I hope these five mantras serve you as you increase your capacity for compassion.
Thank you for walking with me!
Megan is a writer and creator from Wallingford, CT. She is passionate about empowering women to step into the full power and identity they were created to embrace and claim.