Start with Compassion

When-an-idea-reachesIt’s very hard to make a life shift if you’re feeling awful about yourself, but if life isn’t feeling or looking the way you want it to, it’s challenging not to get down on yourself. What do I want? What am I doing here? When am I going to figure life out? We live in a great but crazy time when so much happens over social media. It can be wonderful to connect to old and new friends, to share thoughts and conversation, to reach out, and to find a community of people with similar ideals. All of that can be so uplifting, but it can also make you feel pretty terrible about yourself if you’re feeling vulnerable already. Not everything is glossy and shiny and wonderful, but people rarely post about their deepest fears, their shame, guilt or the choices they wish they had to make over again, differently, nor do they commonly post pictures of themselves on Instagram when they just roll out of bed, pre-shower. It’s no wonder people can get online and end up feeling worse than they did before they turned on their phone or opened their laptop.

If you feel pulled to make some big changes in your life, you’re going to need the energy and the focus to see them through. Also the inspiration. If you’re busy beating yourself up, it’s going to be hard to get motivated. Lots of people get stuck in the blame, rage, shame cycle, which leads nowhere. You really need to start with compassion for yourself, and a shift in perspective can also be a game-changer. It’s easy to get caught up in what we don’t have yet, what isn’t going right, all the breaks we aren’t getting, and every way we’ve been blowing it. A much better way to go is simply to focus on what is going well, what we do have, what is right about us. One train of thought weighs you down, the other lifts you up.

If you have a place to call home, that’s a gift. If you have just one person in your life who really knows you and sees you and celebrates you, that’s another gift (and you can definitely have one, because you can do those things for yourself). If you have a family, even a crazy one, even one you’ve chosen, another huge gift. Your health if you have it, what a blessing. The ability to breathe in and breathe out, to walk from point A to point B if you can. I bet you have a gorgeous smile. I’ll bet your eyes light up when you laugh, or something or someone wonderful surprises you. Maybe you’re a great friend, you certainly have the potential to be. You might be someone’s mom or dad or sister or brother or son or daughter or boyfriend or girlfriend or good friend. You might be the world to someone. The sun at the center of it all. You could impact the life of a total stranger today, just with your kindness. Connection in life is the greatest gift we get. Relationships are what matter. Shared laughter, tears, hugs, conversations. If you start to turn your attention to all the beauty in your life, your heart will fill with gratitude, which feels so good. When we’re feeling thankful, we’re realizing we do have so much, and there’s something very motivating about that.

Think of just three things for which you feel thankful. They can be anything, and then think of three great qualities you possess. Just start there, it’s enough. Write it down if you need to, but allow yourself to really sit with those feelings. You aren’t stuck. It’s never too late to move in a healthy direction, to follow the pull of your heart, to choose the thoughts that strengthen you, to pay attention to what you’re feeding yourself. You just have to give yourself permission, and the material to start–gratitude, and the willingness to take ownership of your own life.

Sending you so much love,

Ally Hamilton

4 thoughts on “Start with Compassion”

  1. REALLY needed this today, Ally. I spent a lot of time the past few weeks feeling like I was the only one who remembered that real life happens in real time with the people we build relationships with. I was feeling really bogged down by the internet, the massive amounts of choices and information out there, and the pressure to portray an image. I just wanted to be enough without those things. To be still. To count just because I am. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone. Sending love as usual.

  2. Thanks, Ally. Not sure how I originally found this blog in the last couple of weeks, but so glad I did. Felt like this post was written directly for me today. Came at just the right moment. Working hard on some pretty huge emotional shifts and felt like I had a major setback today and have been pretty down on myself for seemingly losing all the progress I had been making and then some. Still struggling, but am trying to shift my focus now to one of gratitude and reminding myself of what is good and “right” and that it’s never too late to choose a different way. It’s not easy, but I DO really want to make the changes.

    1. I’m so glad it came at the right time, Jessica. And it is so hard not to fall into the trap of beating ourselves up, but it never leads to anything good. I’ve always loved the proverb, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” Onward and upward. Sending you love and a hug.

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