Anxiety and Self-Compassion

I’m a quote junkie. I know that just amped up my cheese factor by 48%, but it’s true. I love words of inspiration. It’s probably because I’m a writer. My soul kind of screams out for words of encouragement on the reg. It’s like, “Feeeeddd meeee niccceee worrrdddssss!”

Did you know that those of us who surround ourselves with motivational quotes, words, prints, etc. are actually more likely have issues with anxiety than our counterparts who don’t? I learned that one when I was reading that book Snoop, I talked about here. Display of motivational and inspirational quotes are pretty solid predictor for anxiety.

Guess what the background image was on my laptop when I read that?

So yeah, the secret is [kinda] out. I am an anxious individual.

I think it goes with the territory. We don’t become counselors because we’ve never had problems with our minds. We become counselors because we have, we’ve seen “the light” (it’s the color of the prettiest body of water you’ve ever seen, fyi), and because we “get it” when other people have these problems, too.

Self-disclosure time: My anxiety is strongly rooted (i.e.: Redwood tree roots) in my opinion of myself. I used to be that person who could not take a compliment. Any nice thing you’d say about me and I’d brush it off or belittle it. I didn’t realize until I was much older how 1. rude that was, and 2. how damaging that was to my opinion of myself. I thought it was arrogant to say “thank you,” like I was saying “Yes, I know. I’m fabulous!” when in actuality I kind of thought I was worth very little.

jussssttt kiddddinngggg. obvs.

This is probably why I got in relationships where I wasn’t treated well and I spent a good portion of my late teens and early twenties kind of miserable.

What is anxiety anyway?

Anxiety is simply your mind’s manifestation of fear (It’s also super terrible for your body). So, do you think it’s any surprise that my background was constantly reminding me that “I had the answers and I know what I want”?

I’m in recovery from crippling self-doubt. I have had an internal dialogue since I was young that I wasn’t good enough. I could [probably] write an entire post on why that is, but we’ll save that for another day. :)

The thing I learned that has helped me infinitely with this?

Self-compassion.

It’s a radical concept to those of us who can be mentally cruel to ourselves. When I first learned about the idea of self-compassion, I was like, “Heh, what a joke. Be nice to yourself. What a pansy mentality.”

The further I thought about it, the more it made sense. How far had thinking “I can’t” really gotten me? When I added up the list of successes from the “I can’t” attempts pile and the “I can” attempts pile, the numbers were astounding. No surprise I had no entries in the “I can’t” pile.

(source)

So as always in my long-winded posts about this stuff, I have a point. So make it, Jen.

Self-compassion is not just something you acquire overnight. It’s something you work on through a variety of mediums. My friend Michelle talks about it very often on her blog, which is always an amazing reminder for me.

The biggest tip I ever learned was to NOT JUDGE MY THOUGHTS.

Say it with me, “I will not judge my thoughts.”

Instead of taking every single crappy thought I had about myself and judging myself for having it even enter my mind and then evaluating it as a truth (because hey, I thought it, it must be real, right?) I challenged those thoughts with something I knew to be both 1. a fact and 2. a good thing about myself.

Example:

Crappy thought: “I couldn’t make it to my friend’s birthday party. I am a shitty friend.”

Challenge: “Jen, you called her and sent her a gift. She knows you care. Stop it. You are a caring friend.”

The goal for those of us is to eventually have those thoughts flit through our minds like a feather on a breeze (holla, Forrest Gump). There really is a lot of wisdom behind, “In one ear and out the other.”

This takes a long time to get to as a regular practice. Self-compassion is what Buddhists work on when they are in their 6th step to nirvana or something. It’s definitely hard work if you’ve been hard-wired in a way that conflicts with this ideal. If you’ve ever practiced yoga or read about meditation, then you are probably familiar with this concept.

So, in this new year as you work on your resolutions and stumble (or skip!) as you move toward your goals, remember to challenge those thoughts of “I can’t” with things that both challenge that thought with something positive and something true about you. Then, imagine that thought as a feather and let it float from your brain. Get that garbage out of your mind. 2012 is the year you start cleaning house on your mind.

It’s totally cheesy, I know. But, I promise you it works.

Another quote for you quote-lovers and anxiety riddled fools (like me!) out there for your Friday. Have a great weekend, friends.



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Posted on by Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA Posted in Body, Individual, Mind
Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

About Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a mental health counselor newly residing in Seattle, Washington. I strongly believe in the mind-body connection as the cornerstone of my professional ideology, along with the healing possibilities of puppies, a good glass of red wine, the smell of a new book, and the importance of travel.

  • Mary

    Hey Jen! I stumbled upon your blog after Julie posted it in pbfingers! I am a majoring in psychology for my undergrad at UT-Austin so I find all your blog topics incredibly interesting! Also, I will be taking a small class taught by Sam Gosling this Spring on Personality Assessment. I’m pretty excited. I look forward to reading your blog!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Mary! Oh my goodness, so glad to have another psychologist swing through and say hello! Wow, Sam Gosling. You will be getting quite the lesson, I’m sure. Feel free to keep me in the loop with anything you learn in your class. I’m fascinated! Thank you for visiting!

  • http://www.YogaHealthForLife.com Michelle @ YogaHealthForLife

    Revolutionary post, I looove it! I’m rowing in the quote boat with you, but that kava kava tea sure does ease the choppy waters. Your motivational words really hit me right tonight, I love the perspective and your sharing of it so honestly. Of all the images I love in this post, I think I could indulge in the first one daily and love it just as much a year later. Thanks so much for the shout-out, and I’m so glad we’re getting used to this self-compassion thing together!

    • Anonymous

      love you, girl. always happy to share the shout-outs when they’re so well-deserved.

  • Debbiejwelsh

    Hi Jen, I’m a 25 year old gal from New Zealand- a reader, not a blogger. I just discovered your blog through PBF, and i’m lovin it thus far. I can totally relate to a lot of the issues you have talked about – so interesting! Not to mention you are hilarious, can’t wait to see what else you come up with it! Got yourself a new reader!

    • Jen!

      Thanks, Debbie! Thank you for reading! I look forward to seein’ ya around. :)

    • Anonymous

      Hi Debbie!

      Thank you so much for reading, I’m glad you’ve found stuff that speaks to you on here. Look forward to seeing you around! :)

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