In fact, recently, and despite all of my best intentions and hopes, I’ve felt more like a contestant on Takeshi’s Castle than a successful, inspiring entrepreneur and person.
Remember that show? Contestants voluntarily lined up to be pummeled, crushed, flipped backwards, etc. all while eliciting laughs at their expense from the audience.
Well, I’m thankfully not dealing with an physical slippery wall and avalanche of rocks (click on the link above if you have no idea what I’m talking about). But that doesn’t mean life is letting me chillax in the back seat of a limo.
If I look at the past 6 months, I can count a few failures.
– My startup in Africa failed to prove a viable market in the three-month timeline I had been given, so it was shut down.
– Another startup, my own this time, was successful, but I closed the doors because the partner was MIA and my own energies were needed elsewhere.
– And most recently I had to put my in-flight e-course on hold because the technology Gods and my own move back to the US were just not cooperating.
Now, if I were younger, I would be stressed about the barrage of seeming failure. My internal perfectionist physically revolts at the first whiff of ‘eau de failure’.
But one of the many beautiful parts of aging and self-improvement is the ability to embody the butterfly while stinging like the bee. Or, in my case, the scorpion.
Which brings me from Takeshi’s Castle to Care Bears and Compassion.
Light Internet research provides this definition of compassion:
Sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it; a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc. (Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compassion)
In my opinion, Merriam-Webster has it totally wrong.
Compassion manifests in an increased ability to understand and empathize with others, but it always has to start with you.
Self-compassion is the source of all compassion. If you can’t learn to be gentle and forgiving with yourself, how do you expect to do so with anyone else?
This is what I’d like to call the Care Bear Effect.
Another throwback here: Care Bears are cute, cartoon bears with various insignia on their bellies (and a huge Saturday AM cartoon in the 80’s). When the Care Meter is running low (i.e. the world needed more caring), they come together for the Care Bear Stare. Powerful rainbows of caring energy came out of their bellies and upped the Care Meter. Rather cute…and easy to Google.
And just like the Care Bear Stare (aka Belly Magic, and here I’ll call it the Compassion Stare), compassion has a few components:
1) It always starts with you. First make peace with your own decisions and reality. Only then, can you think of others. This is just like those overhead air masks in an airplane: affix yours before thinking of others.
2) You can feel it most in your belly and heart. To me it feels like a warm embrace and feeling of safety and stability.
3) When combined with other’s compassion, it increases in power and radiance.
This also brings me full circle to Takeshi’s Castle and its crazy obstacles.
The reality is this: Life is never going to stop throwing you obstacles like Takeshi’s slippery wall. It’s just up to you how you tackle those obstacles.
And success doesn’t mean pushing forward no matter the cost.
In fact, when I made the decision to hit Pause on my e-course, I was really surprised at the generosity and understanding from the participants. One Gritty soul wrote the following:
‘What a great idea to pause and regroup rather than plowing ahead and forcing something that is giving resistance right now. This is such a valuable lesson and seeing you do this helps me realize that I can make this choice as well when I need to. Love it!’
I love walking my talk! And given that feedback, I thought it would be a great idea to provide some ideas for how you can begin a practice of self-compassion.
1) List. Write down all of your current activities in one, collective list. Include in-flight projects, ideas, and standing commitments.
2) Identify. Read each one out loud, and notice any tension in your body, voice, and mind. Mark these activities somehow (highlight, star, etc.).
3) Release. Go back and look at what you marked. Is it an in-flight project that just needs completing? Can you put anything else on hold while you get that one item off of your list? Is there something you can share with someone else to help it get off your plate? Is there anything you can give up all together?
Sometimes it is best to relax in to the turbulence and ride out the rapids for a bit.
For me, that meant stopping a course and sending personal emails to all applicants to tell them what was up. It meant allowing a business idea to be put on hold. It meant moving back to the US. It currently means accepting that business and life move at a certain pace, and that is best to be compassionate and patient with my own development and growth. Only then do I embody the ‘authentic’ label so many people throw around today.
I’d love to hear how you incorporate your own Compassion Stare and Compassion Meter in your daily activities. Leave a comment below with your own twist, and I’ll see you on the next blog.
PS: I can go on for days about failure, why you shouldn’t shirk from the word or glam it up, and why it’s an amazing part of any inspired and gritty life. In fact, it sounds like a great blog!