The Art Of Self Compassion

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Not every morning is the kind where you throw off the blankets at the crack of dawn whistling a happy melody as bluebirds land on your shoulders and furry little woodland creatures scamper about your feet.

No, some days you wake up and you begin to mentally calculate exactly how many hours it’s going to be until you can crawl back into the comfort and safety of your bed.

We’ve all been there.

One of the most important things I’ve learned over the past several years of personal training is the need to meet clients where they are. There is great value in spending a couple of minutes at the beginning of each session to get past the perfunctory, “How are you?…I’m fine,” conversation to which we have all become so accustomed.

If I ask someone how they are doing and the words coming out of their mouth don’t match the tears welling up in their eyes, there needs to be an immediate change of plans to whatever I had originally scheduled. I never go into a session with someone without having a plan in place. But the ability to remain fluid and flexible is paramount to ensuring that they get what they need out of their training that day. Whether that’s just stretching and talking, or punching the hell out of a heavy bag. Both can be very therapeutic and extremely beneficial.

Many of us have become overly concerned with getting the best workout possible. We forget that, ultimately, being physically active should make us feel better. 

And sometimes, what makes us feel better is moving a lot of weight around, or running like we are being chased by a pack of hungry zombies, or hula ­hooping, yoga, or just wildly dancing to whatever music moves our soul. Our idea of what fitness is should be expanded to include how it makes us feel emotionally, not just seen as a way to combat extra calories or “sculpt a sizzling summer bod.”

While it’s useful to keep track of your workouts through various methods, it’s also useful once in a while to just lighten up and have some fun with them, to find the joy in movement. It doesn’t always have to be so serious, and it certainly doesn’t always need to be a competition, even if it’s only you that you are competing against.

There are days when you can push yourself harder, and there are days where you need to cut yourself a little slack. Learn the difference between the two.

The ability to be compassionate towards ourselves is a skill that takes some getting used to, but it’s a skill worth cultivating. The more adept we become at practicing self-compassion, the mornings we jump out of bed whistling and watching out for those scampering woodland creatures have a tendency to increase. And perhaps more importantly, the ones where we can’t wait to get back under the covers will begin to dwindle.

 

Posted on July 12, 2015 .