Hand Over Heart

This morning I attended a training, and as it often happens, I learned something of value that goes beyond the reach of helping my clients. I learned something about myself.

We started off the morning by putting our hand over our heart, closing our eyes, focusing on taking even breaths and asking ourselves a very simple question in nature, “what are you feeling?”. Yup, I’m sure this is exactly what you imagine would happen in a room full of therapists. Immediately it felt like taking a deep dive within. Between brunches, breweries, and bachelorettes life has recently been very busy and very fun. I’ve been grateful for that. I needed that after a season of big effort to discover the little joys. But as it happens so often with our spirits, we live in the extremes. Slowing down to check in with myself I realized that I haven’t tended to my wounds and I have stopped asking myself challenging questions. And that’s probably ok but it was important to realize that I need to start again.

Asking myself “what are you feeling?” was like realizing I had left a candle burning all day. The flame of the hurt was no longer bold and bright. It is dim and flickering. But no matter how small of a flame, if you come close to it, you feel the heat. If you touch it, it still burns. Finding out the candle is still burning is disappointing and frustrating. How long does this last? I’m pretty sure I blew it out?!

Then, the voice of the facilitator disrupted my thoughts. She said, “ask yourself, what do you need?”. I decided to ask God instead of myself. With my hand still over my heart, a word came into my mind: Self-compassion. So I sat there for a few more seconds feeling my heart and realizing I still needed to be sensitive and attentive to myself.

Maybe a month or two ago self-compassion meant giving myself a break from thinking about the problem and letting myself do some impulsive shopping. Maybe earlier this month it meant taking a risk and trying something new. What I’m realizing now is that being compassionate towards myself is not going to be a formula. The same actions will not always yield the same results.

Self compassion can mean saying ‘yes’ to new things. It can also mean saying ‘not yet’ and most importantly it means that whatever I need is good and it’s ok. Self-compassion is not selfishness and it’s not self–centeredness. It’s a kind, gentle, and healing kind of confrontation.

For anyone who knows me, or is a fan of the Enneagram personality types and is familiar with what being a 9 looks like, you know that not only are these realizations for me huge but actually putting them to practice are life changing.

So I invite you to do the same. Travel to the center. What are you feeling? What do you need?

I don’t totally know the answers to these questions myself but asking them is the first step.

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