In the past 20 years, I’ve had the good fortune of being a fur-mom to 10 golden retrivers. Don’t bother to do the math, I AM that dog mom. 8 years ago on New Year’s Eve day, we said so long to one of our beloved babies. This is me…a puddle of sobbing emotions lying on the ground to comfort our other dogs and just look at how they comforted me by forming that circle of love. Over those 20 years, I learned much about compassion from our beloved babies. And yet, yesterday morning while reading “Successful Aging” by Daniel J Levitin, I realized that I would have been hard pressed to define the word. It was this line “…to allow for the possibility that you might be wrong in attributing a trait to someone’s behavior.” that added to my thougths about compassion and had my brain doing somersaults.
I’ve replayed the line over and over again…when driving down an off-ramp and deciding that I would give all the cash I had (sadly, only $6) to the person I could make out begging on the corner…when walking past a neighbor’s stretch of the unsholved sidewalk with 2 excited golden retrivers in hand…when a vendor reached out cancelling 2 previously scheduled appointments this week…when another vendor sent a text 30 minutes prior to an appointment saying they’d be 15 minutes late…That line is so very powerful that I began deploying it. I’d catch my judgey brain and then the quote came fluttering back. Just as quickly as I judged, I sought and found alternative reasons for the “behavior“. As example, instead of the neighbor being lazy “trait“, I considered that they might be sick. Then most amazing thing would happen, each time I was literally overcome with a sense of peace. “Huh” I said to myself.
Now that you’ve rung in the new year, either on the heels of some reflection and goal setting or not, I’m here today to challenge you…
Over the span of my professional life between the restaurants and public speaking engagements, I’ve met thousands of people. If they shared one thing in common, and tended to repeat that thing over and over again, it would be how often they self-sabotaged. How often they got in their own way. How often their internal narrative was punishing. How often they said things to themselves that they would NEVER even think about someone they cared for.
Here’s the challenge CHANGE THE CHATTER! (full disclosure, I heard about a Peloton bike rider who chose that as their username, and I love it). Begin applying Daniel Levitin’s definition of compassion to YOU. “…to allow for the possibility that you might be wrong in attributing a trait to
someone’s YOUR behavior.” Folks, life has and will continue to deliver punishing blows, please don’t do it to yourself. Today, if you want to move towards the goals you set, or if you want to set a goal to work towards, or if the act of getting out of bed is what you do, then do that thing FIRST by extending compassion to yourself. Promise yourself that you won’t ever allow your internal dialogue to speak things to you that you wouldn’t think, much less say to another.
I’m telling you, this is a game changer and something I’ve been working on diligently for almost the last 3 years, I even named mine Ivy. A story for another day.