The Mindfulness Blog

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For years-- for decades-- we've been told that overachieving is what successful people do, in both work and life. And, regrettably, it's starting to catch up with a lot of us. How to deal with it? Well, we can start by giving ourselves a break-- something that meditators sometime refer to as self-compassion.

I know to many, that'll sound kind of touchy-feely, but actually, it's not. There are many different things-- important things-- that we're required to juggle, in a typical day. Children, work demands, home/spouse complications, struggling parents-- the list is seemingly endless. They're all things over which we have little or no control-- those are all "waves" that will come, like it or not. But we can learn to "surf"-- we can control the way in which we respond (rather than blindly reacting).

It's every day wisdom that we've all heard, and shared with others: "Focus on the things you can control, and don't get distracted by things you can't control". Easy advice to give-- much harder to follow. Lawyers are often engaged to deal with people or situations their clients don't feel they can influence or control, but that's a topic for another post. Today, we're talking about the general sense of overwhelm that weighs us down-- all of us-- when we allow ourselves to become victims of people, places or things over which we a little, or no, control.

Those waves will come-- they're inevitable, and seemingly constant. But can we learn to surf them? Not simply to roll with them, but rather, to ride them-- to somehow shape them? Sure, the waves will carry us in a particular direction, but we can choose the manner in which we are moved? That the difference between responding, as opposed to reacting-- it's a strategy we can train ourselves to pursue, through mindfulness and the practice of meditation.

How can we deal with the seemingly limitless reach of overwhelm? The only thing I've discovered is to focus on me, and my ability to skillfully respond, rather than react. As Jon Kabat-Zinn is quoted as saying, "We can't stop the waves, but we can learn to surf".

We can learn to give ourselves a break-- it's called self-compassion, and it is decidedly not self-ish !


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