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Handling "new" with compassion

Self compassion is quite the buzz word these days in both coaching and therapy spaces. For many people, it means being "soft" when we really need to "toughen up." For others, it means I have to stop pursuing my dreams because I can't be successful without being hard on myself. For others still, it is "being gentle" with ourselves and how we talk to ourselves internally and loving all of us. For me, though, self compassion is being able to look at ourselves as one who is flawed, loved and continuing to grow and change and giving ourselves the grace to be a little messy in the middle. Transitions provide a lot of opportunity for self compassion because they are often very uncomfortable spaces, fraught with mistakes and learning new skills.

A new job

A new relationship

A new church

A new health diagnosis

A new baby

Loss of a loved one

A relationship ending

A friendship changing with a new season of life

Being out of our comfort zones, adjusting to a "new normal" or even just having to endure an uncomfortable feeling can bring about big feelings that need our compassionate attention. Whether you see them as big or small transitions, your brain is working extra hard to adjust to your surroundings. Our brains were made for us to stay in homeostasis, to stay the same. That is how our brains know we are safe is if we know what to expect. When discomfort or something new, even when it's good, comes into our lives, we must learn to create compassionate transitions.

Compassionate transitions are those in which we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We recognize that we are living in a difficult space and allow grace and space for our brains, bodies, minds and souls to adjust to what we are experiencing. We see clearly all the "new" we are navigating and give ourselves credit for all we are doing well and let go of the things we are still learning.

It takes work to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and allowing our internal resources to grow. However, every time we approach a transition or big feeling with compassion rather than harshness or contempt, we are growing and expanding our window of tolerance for the transition experience and, therefore, increasing our ability and capacity for growth, healing and, eventually, connection.

End of summer and early fall have lots of transitions for families. I hope you find this and my upcoming newsletters helpful as you navigate all those transition spaces with compassion.

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