Blog Post, Manifest Your Best Life, Written by Alé

5 Tips to Manifest Self Compassion

Brunette woman with her palm open with the words values, positive self talk, affirmations, touch, and self care printed on her fingers.  The header of the photo has the the title, 5 tips to manifest self compassion.  The bottom of the photo has the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.

By, now we’ve all heard the term “self care.” You may have heard it explained with quotes like, “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” or “You must put your oxygen mask first, before you can assist other passengers.” That is all great information, and very true. While self care is specific ways to take care of yourself, from the mundane like making sure your space is tidy, to splurges like a day at the spa, self compassion is more of a way of being.

Self compassion, as I define it, is fine tuning that voice inside your head to speak to yourself as you would a loved one. Extensive research has shown that the power of self compassion reaches farther than having high self esteem and those that are high on the self compassion scale are more productive and tend to procrastinate less. I would say that is a super power for any dream chaser and change maker!

1 Little Exercise Before we Dive In!

Stay with me, because before we get into the 5 ways to cultivate self compassion in your life we are going to do a little exercise. Think of the last time that you did not live up to your own expectations. What did you say to yourself? Really take a second to think of the self talk you used. I’ll be waiting right here.

Okay! Now I want you to think of someone you love very much, maybe your partner, your best friend, or a parent. Would you EVER speak to them the way you spoke to yourself? Probably not. Maybe you said something cruel about your appearance, or marked yourself a failure. These are lies and are not serving you in reaching your highest potential. Negative self talk does not motivate you to persevere, nor does it bring you any closer to joy or fulfillment. While self compassion is a way of being kinder and gentler with yourself, it is no means giving you an “out” to slack and not get things done.

So where do you start? Well, read on and I’ll tell ya.

1. Define your values.

An open journal to placed on the blog page to encourage readers to write out their values and explore their "why."

Now is a great time to dust off that old notebook or journal that’s been laying around your bedroom and write or even draw symbols of what is REALLY important to you. What is the driving force in your life? What are you striving for? Where do your priorities lie right now? If you are a student, why do you show up for class and complete your assignments? If you are a parent, what is the vision you see for your family? Perhaps you are an entrepreneur trying to grow your business. Whatever your circumstances may be, take this time to explore your “why.”

Being well oriented with your values will help guide and anchor you. When life gets complicated and important decisions have to be made, falling back on what is really important to you can be a helpful tool.

2. Nip Negative Self Talk in the Bud

We can say awful things to ourselves and not even think twice about it. I will challenge you here to be more conscious of that– I don’t want you saying mean things about my friend! So, you, my friend, make an effort to notice when you are using unkind words to speak to yourself. We train our brains, and while making a new habits like this we create new pathways in our brain.

When you do catch yourself, take a pause and ask yourself, “Is there another way I can say that?” For example, if you did not land a job you really wanted, or a presentation did not go the way you had hoped, instead of saying, “I am such a failure,” you could say, “I did my best and I have learned from this experience.” You tweak this to your specific circumstances, and make sure the kinder words you chose are also true. You want to believe in those empowering words.

The more you catch yourself and the more you practice speaking kindly to yourself, the more natural it will become. This is scientific fact folks!

3. Keep Calm and Use an Affirmation

An affirmation is simple statement often used to uplift and motivate and can be a really useful tool in cultivating more self compassion. There are tons and tons of affirmations online you can access with a quick google search, for example, “affirmations for a positive body image,” or “affirmations for bringing wealth into my life.” You can also write your own that is custom tailored to you. I think that makes it all the more empowering. You can repeat your affirmation to yourself as often as you like.

Find or write one or a few that speak to you and make them visible. Sticky notes are your friend! Often, I will suggest my clients stick their affirmations on their desks or work spaces, in the mirrors in their bathrooms, on their bedroom wall, or wherever they experience negative self talk the most. For clients who feel a little strange that people may see their affirmation I suggest they keep it handy on their phone and stick a blank sticky just as a private reminder to themselves to use their affirmation.

Sticky Note with an affirmation that says, "I surround myself with positive people who bring out the best in me."

Examples: I am powerful and loved. | I am enough. | My body is a gift that carries me through life. | Everyday I am attracting money into my life.

4. Touch Yourself!

Brunette woman wearing sunglasses and a scarf giving herself of a squeeze in an act of self compassion

I am not being funny here. Touch releases oxytocin, a chemical in our brain connected with love and positive feelings. When you feel like you need a boost you can give yourself a hug. It may sound strange, but again, we can’t argue with science! Stroke your arm, give yourself a little squeeze and release that oxytocin!

5. Yes, and Self Care!

Although self compassion and self care are not interchangeable terms, self care certainly would fall under the umbrella of self compassion. If self compassion means treating yourself as you would a loved one, taking time to meet your needs is essential.

What your self care looks like is up to you, as you are the expert on you! Mine ranges from making sure I am staying connected to friends and family to making sure I pick up my prescriptions are filled and picked up on time. If you want more information on what self care and what it may look like for you, again, google is our trusty friend. Maybe it is yoga and mediation, maybe it’s more sleep and well-rounded eating. Maybe you are a busy parent and it is setting boundaries to make sure you’ve had the time to bathe and sit down for a meal. The point is, ask yourself what you need and prioritize that.

Brunette woman in fancy bathtub practicing self care
Self Care in a Fancy Hotel Tub!

Dr. Kristen Neff (literally) wrote the book on self compassion. For more in depth information and the research behind this stuff head to her website: https://self-compassion.org/.

By Alé Cardinalle | LMSW Candidate NYU 2019

Blog Post, Manifest Your Best Life, Written by Alé

Be Kind to Your Body, The Kids are Watching

by Alé

A brunette woman standing in front of some plants and a brick wall, wearing sunglasses and standing next to sunflowers.

Betty and I have been working hard to create a community surrounding the Dream Chasers and Change Makers podcast.  I have been doing research on how to engage more social media users who would be interested in brave and vulnerable content.  One thing I have learned, from social media guru, Jenna Kutcher, is that users like to know the faces behind the pages they are interacting with.  That translates to: we need to post pictures of ourselves!

In my past taking photos was something I loved to do.  It was my self-care before I even knew that buzzword.  It may sound superficial, but for me it was therapeutic.  When my life felt out of control, and I was anxiety ridden and depressed, when I had the energy, getting glammed and having my photo taken just felt really freaking good.  If I couldn’t get a handle on how I felt, at least I could control how I looked.  Pictures were a way for me to encapsulate this.  Actually, my dear friend, who has since passed away, Kevin, would sometimes say to me, “Do you want me to take your picture?” when I was feeling down.  He knew me so well.

In the past few years, for the most part, this has not been the case.  I tend to shy away from the camera.  My body has grown and aged some.  When my picture is taken I get pangs of fear and think horrible thoughts, that I would never say about anyone else, like, “Oh God, I hope I don’t look disgusting in that picture.” 

It’s funny because, as a clinical social worker (in training!) I tell my clients all the time, to try and speak to themselves the way they would a friend and in this situation I am totally not taking my own advice.  Realizing this, and then learning that a way to start a community online is to show people who you are I decided I was going to have to get my picture taken.

I recently spent a couple days in in New York City.  I brought a couple cute outfits with me and decided I was going to fake it until I make it and pose in cool looking places all over the village.  I was feeling very self conscious and worrying about what passerbys may think, like, “What does this girl think, she’s a model?”  I really wanted these pictures to come out nice, so I threw caution to the wind and posed my little heart out.

A woman posing joyfully looking over her shoulder.
The moment she passed by!

I was doing a pose where I was looking over my shoulder (what a professional, I know) and this tiny little girl, maybe three years old passes by perched on her dad’s shoulders.  She has this fleece hat Velcro-ed around her cherub face and she squeals, “Daddy look!  She is SO pretty!” 

My heart melted into a puddle, obviously.  It reminded me that all the little kids and babies riding on their dads’ shoulders are not born hating their bodies.  WE teach them that.  Every time we say how unhappy with our bodies whether it’s because parts are too big or too small, not firm enough, too wrinkly, we normalize shaming bodies. We are teaching children to look at their little bodies and the bodies of other children and comparing and judging and eventually hating.

These past few months I have been reading and learning about diet culture, and how as kids we were indoctrinated into this belief system about what a body must look like in order to be beautiful and healthy. That’s why I was an eight year old looking at my thighs underneath the bubbles in my bathtub praying to God to make them thinner. I stepped away from learning about these things because it was a lot of information and honestly very overwhelming to take in. One thing that has been good for me is following people on social media that have all different kinds of bodies, and not necessarily body positivity pages exclusively, just all types of people living their lives with purpose in the skin they’re in.

Unlearning what I learned about bodies is a journey, and that little moment on the street was truly a gift from the universe. Joy is beautiful. A free spirit is beautiful. I am so pretty, and in the words of my three year old niece, “Because I said so.”

A brunette woman wearing sunglasses and red lipstick in a black and white striped dress in front of a blue brick wall.

By Alé Cardinalle | LMSW Candidate 2019