Cindy Hoard

Inspirational Author and Psychologist

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When I am overwhelmed by a situation, I feel anxious, maybe even scared and I know my perspective and perceptions are off, just based on how I feel physically. Our physical sensations are important barometers of how we are being affected by a situation.

Am I stressed-out or excited about something?
Certainly one consideration I must give to how I feel at a given moment, is whether I am overwhelmed by fear or charged with excitement. Physical sensations in both of these situations can appear similar. I KNOW I have to step back and BREATHE. This brings the attention back to my body which is full of feedback to help me sort out whether I am experiencing stress or excitement. I keep in mind that even if I am excited, I may need to step back and BREATHE to make sure that I am taking care of myself and hopefully being as objective as possible about how I am feeling.

How can “Stressing-Out” help me?
Even when I feel really worked up, fearful, overwhelmed or even “out-of-control”, I have learned to pause and check in with myself. Of course, deep breathing is always a first line of responding for me. Even just focusing on my breathing is a form of self-compassion that is available anytime, anywhere. It can be an immediate way to redirect my attention and energy. So listening to my body is an excellent source of feedback about how I am feeling and even potentially what I” need” at a given moment.

How else can I show myself “Self-Compassion”?
Present moment awareness and breathing may be viewed as the initial “emergency” response. Breathing helps me redirect my attention. But then what? Avoid self-judgment and admonishment for any reactions I may have in the moment. These times call for self-kindness discussed in detail by Dr. Kristin Neff. It is helpful to remember that I am human, and my reactions are common in most people.

What are some misconceptions about self-compassion?
It IS NOT selfishness! Individuals who practice self-compassion have been found to have more giving behaviors and attitudes towards others. It is NOT just being “overly optimistic” rather it is a sign of self-improvement. It can involve accepting personal weaknesses and focusing on personal change. It is NOT self-pity. It can be an expression of curiosity and interest in developing new skills.

Keep learning about self-compassion and most importantly, prescribe activities for yourself to foster your personal self-compassion. There are many resources on the internet if you just google “self-compassion”.

Photo credit: Cathal Mac an B Heatha (Unsplash.com)