“When you’re self compassionate about your failure, it allows you to learn more from the failure. It’s such a truism that failure is our best friend.” A great perspective from author and guest Kristin Neff PhD, in her conversation with Peter Attia on the “The Drive” podcast. Keep listening to hear what cured Peter’s abusive inner critic, how to reparent yourself with self compassion to become a more securely attached adult and why self kindness, self compassion and connectedness can affect your quality of life for the better.
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So I don’t think I mentioned this in the last few episodes but I wanted to tell you about the party I held for myself throughout most, if not all of February no, you didn’t miss my birthday. It was actually a pity party. That’s right, a whole month to feel sorry for myself. Because nothing says “I heart you” like a 46 year old woman walking around in her pajamas all day whining about the unfairness of life while stuffing her face with gluten free chocolate chip cookies. Good times.
Until recently, or two days ago, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Quote of the Day Show with “Yo, What’s Up Y’all”, host, Sean Croxton. And it featured motivational speaker and preacher, Eric Thomas who was giving a talk about previous generations and how much harder life was back then, compared to now. How his great grandmother worked herself to the bone cleaning houses for other people and working out in the cotton fields all day. And he goes on to ask the audience “what do you have to complain about? What is really so bad in your life right now that you need to complain?”
And I start looking around my nice ass apartment thinking, oh my God! What is wrong with, not me, because there’s nothing wrong with me but what is wrong with my thinking lately? I’m not sick or starving. All my body parts seem to be working just fine. I have beautiful healthy, happyish kids, I shop at Whole foods for fuck sake. And what I don’t get there I have delivered right to my damn door from a company halfway across the U.S. I also take acting classes. Yes, I actually pay a guy to teach me how to play and pretend to be someone else. Oh, and did I mention that I could probably support an entire third world country with what I spend on all the latest and greatest health and beauty products? And what about the amazing and I mean truly amazing women that I’m surrounded by. Not that I would name any names...Rachel, Amy, Tam and Marian.
So, yeah, I’m pissed at myself for getting stuck in my suck for so damn long. It’s ridiculous. A moment, a few moments, fine. A week, a month, longer? Oh Hell no! I have it so friggin easy. it’s insane. And to give a little context, while I’m sitting here talking there are guys working in the apartment next to me hammering and banging away, that earlier, I’m not gonna lie, I was cursing them. Yeah, it’s like they were purposefully trying to annoy me with getting up at the crack of dawn, schlepping all their shit here, 3 flights up, doing hard manual labor and working their asses off all day until dark while I sit here in my cozy apartment and complain without a care in the world. I’m done!
Okay, I’m not trying to minimize how I feel or the thoughts I have but really let’s put things in perspective. I have it pretty darn good and the only person I hurt when I feel sorry for myself is, drum roll please... me. It’s just... enough already. Do we all have challenges? Of course. Do we all struggle with our own shit? Yes. And that’s okay, that’s more than okay. It’s completely normal. But come on girl, the hardest thing I have to deal with is my own endless chatter that makes up these dumbass stories I tell myself. On the bright side, at least I have a good imagination, right? Silver lining? Yes, no? Whatever.
In the middle of all this I joined a Facebook group dedicated to women over 40, just for shits and giggles and to see what other women like me are struggling with. And while many of them have a pretty healthy, positive attitude, there's still a lot of complaining and whoa is me going on. And while I appreciate and understand that people are going through some stuff and life gets hard, it can be difficult not to get sucked into the negativity. I want to serve and support anyone that needs it because, well I’m sick of serving myself and there’s no better way to get out of your own funk than helping others to get out of theirs. But I can’t forget that who I surround myself with is who I become. I’m not saying I plan on leaving the group but like Sean says, I’ll go less often and not stay as long.
Here’s where our topic comes in. Self compassion and gratitude because the last thing I need to do is beat myself up for, beating myself up! And from the discussion between Kristin, an expert in mindful compassion, and Peter the host of the show, there are definitely more loving, nurturing ways to go after what you want without beating the crap out of yourself and making everyone else miserable along the way. That’s what I’m interested in. Getting there without the crazy highs and lows that come when using grit and will power alone inevitably fail me.
But isn’t life supposed to be difficult? Shouldn’t we just be able to power through with discipline and self sacrifice to get the thing and then self flagellate if we don’t. Maybe, to some extent but what if there’s a better way? A way that builds you up rather than cuts you down. I’m sick of the little bitch in my head that tells me that I suck. In the same but not same words of Seth Rogan in Knocked up, fuck you “mean Tracy”, you’re a crazy bitch “mean Tracy”. You actually could insert the word hormones like he does and it would probably still fit. And, yeah, I know, I need a better name for that little “evil me” inside. I was thinking maybe Darla or Carrie...what do you think? Maybe Damien, you know, from the Omen, but it makes me think of the tv series, not the creepy movie from the ‘70’s and he’s so handsome in it that it’s hard to think of him as evil. And then of course because he’s cute my mind automatically goes to sex and the fact that I’ll probably never have it again. So it’s really a rabbit hole I’d rather avoid. I’ll stick to mean Tracy for now and keep workin on it. All suggestions are welcome. You got a name for yours?
Anyway, I want to have fun and be in fucking love with myself. I want excitement, joy, and appreciation for who I am despite the struggle and maybe even because of it. I don’t want to rip myself to shreds, It sucks! It makes me feel like crap and the only thing it serves is to give me a hit of anxiety laden motivation that lasts a quick minute like an addict who gets their fix. So I say, screw it! Life’s a never ending experiment till we die so why not try a bunch of shit and see what sticks. Especially, as Kristin says, it’s based in science.
Now, If someone were to ask me, Tracy, “what’s your superpower?” I know what I’d say... Why, self compassion and gratitude. The good news, we all have access so we can all be superheroes. The bad news, we can all be superheroes. So much for being a special snowflake. How’s it used? Well, next time you’re in the middle of a little mental torment, in like what, 5 minutes if you’re anything like me, stop, catch yourself, like Peter does in the clip. Flip that conversation and focus on the positive in it. Lately, I’ve even been using the voice memo app on my phone to record the opposite of whatever negative thoughts I’m having. Just do what works for you. It feels awkward at first but gets easier with practice. And practice makes comfortable.
If you’d like to learn more about The Power of Self-Compassion, check out the full interview with Kristen Neff and Peter Attia on “The Drive” podcast. Links to that and both their social media are in the show notes below along with a link to Eric Thomas’s talk on “The Quote of The Day Show.”
If you enjoyed today’s podcast please subscribe and share with someone you think might benefit and until next time, Thanks for listening.