Compassion for Yourself

by Andrea Chilcote

I love it when this happens: someone very wise states a basic truth in a simple and elegant way and I hear it anew.

Andrea Chilcote; Brene Brown

That’s what happened when I read scholar Brene Brown’s advice to examine my judgments, to see if they’re really self-criticisms that compare something I feel is inadequate in me to someone who I view as “worse.”

I’ve known about this mirror thing for many years. The things we like or dislike about others serve as a mirror for those things we like or dislike about ourselves. The judgments we have of others are really self-criticisms. It all make sense, yet Brown’s message gave me a tool to go beyond self-awareness – to transformation. And, it’s important because without the process she outlines, looking in the mirror just produces more self-criticism.

Like every great tool, her process lends itself to interpretation. I’ll share mine here, in the hope it will be practical and useful to you too, spirited women.

  • Examine the judgment. Ask yourself: “In what way does this behavior I’m judging in someone else remind me of something I don’t like about myself?” This step requires introspection. Don’t rationalize it – seek the insight, even if it seems illogical.
  • Give yourself a break. Practice self-compassion. Forgive yourself. This is the most important step, and it’s easier because you have company.
  • Then, (are you ready for this?) – feel empathy for the person you were judging. That’s easy too, if you acknowledge the ways in which you thought or acted in similarly. Compassion for the other person becomes automatic because – and perhaps only because – you just felt genuine compassion for yourself.

This new insight doesn’t change the inevitable fact that judgments will arise in me. It doesn’t change the need to practice self-acceptance. But in the week or so I’ve been focusing on this, I’ve transformed quite a few criticisms of myself and others – things that were sitting below the surface affecting my quality of life in some small way.

Brown says the practice will bring more joy. I welcome that. How about you?

“It starts with showing compassion for ourselves. Only when we feel comfortable with our own choices—and embrace our own imperfections—will we stop feeling the driving need to criticize others.” —Brene Brown

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Be in Joy (2014)

Andrea Chilcote

by Andrea Chilcote

Please join Andrea, as she reflects back to her 2012 holiday season experience sharing her timeless suggestion to simply step into the moment at hand and enjoy it! 

This is a season to celebrate love and compassion for all. It’s the time we pause to notice the simple joys of connecting with one another. Isn’t it?

Everywhere I go, people say “It’s such a busy time.” But why are we busy to the point of being stressed out?  I think it’s because our lives have no room for error – (consider the impact of a head cold or a flat tire) – and then the “holidays” come along, with gatherings to attend, gifts to prepare and greetings to write, and we’re over the top.

I don’t have any answers about how to make day-to-day life more manageable. (At least not today). But one thing I do know is this. It’s up to you to either enjoy this time or suffer through it. My suggestion? Enjoy. Be in joy.

Today was one of those busy days for me. When at last I was free to relax on the hiking trail with my friend and two dogs, I felt just a bit of guilt, knowing how many things I had to do. But if there’s one place I can quickly focus on the moment at hand and enjoy it, it’s my desert trails.

We had been walking for some time, letting the dogs choose the path. Suddenly my friend, who was ahead of me, said, “I’ll give you that hug now.” Earlier, I had sent her today’s “Note From The Universe,” which had advised me that one of the secrets to peace and joy is to give more hugs. I’ve never been one to hug a lot, so I don’t know what possessed me. The season perhaps?

Before I could reach my friend, my dog Kairos jumped up, embracing her in a hug around her waist. Kairos is a hugger, though I did not know his vocabulary was this advanced. I am proud of his obedience accomplishments, but had no idea he would respond to a hug request this quickly. It was an unexpected joy. The whole thing made me pause and try to experience the moment with all my senses. The desert sunset, the chill in the air and the spirit of the season. Enjoyment.

So, here’s my lesson, and one I’ll offer you. In these next days, when you make a choice to spend your time visiting, shopping, decorating or something else, do it with passion and presence. Step into the experience at hand and enjoy it. Be in joy.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger.

A Friend is Always There

A Friend is Always There 2by Andrea Chilcote

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday and spend treasured time with family and friends, I’m remembering one of my musings about friendship. Enjoy this encore post. 

My husband Arthur and I spent last weekend with visiting friends, one of whom I had not seen for several years. The moment I embraced her at the airport, I knew that the time that had passed was a mere blip on the screen of life. We immediately took up where we had left off.

The morning after she left, I found myself thinking about another friend I had not spoken to in several months. I felt that pang of guilt, and made a mental note to call her.  Minutes later, voilà, — my cell phone rang. You know who it was.

We quickly caught up on the comings and goings of each other’s lives and settled into the familiar. When I hung up the phone, I wondered to myself why I feel such angst when I miss a special person, versus smiling at the memory — then acting.

Have you procrastinated calling or writing a friend because it’s been too long and you’re embarrassed about it? Maybe you missed acknowledging her birthday or a son’s graduation and are feeling just a little guilty.

Here’s one thing I know for sure. If it’s a real friendship, reconnecting can only bring joy. The time that passed is irrelevant. Some friends are with us consistently during periods of our lives. Others appear at just the right time to serve some simple or profound purpose.

True friendship is a free flow of give and take. If you’re called to connect and energized when considering it, act. She will be there. If the thought of doing so drains you, let it go. Either way, allow no guilt, none at all.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.

“Yes, Piglet?”

“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh