Category Archives: Blog

Three Pathways to Develop Self-Compassion

2017 meditation shot smallI am in a course on “Mindful Self-Compassion“. I wish you could be there with me.

After the very first session, I noticed a shift…I felt softer, I felt more loving, I felt more patient and kind. Each of those feelings were directed toward mySELF…and I noticed right away how they affected the feelings I had to important people in my life.

Kristin Neff says that ‘self-compassion’ means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. Well, I’ve had a few personal failings. I’ll bet you have too. I know I have not been very kind to myself during those times. Have you?

Kristin goes on to say that “Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience.”

In Neff’s research, the three elements of self-compassion are:

  1. Self-Kindness vs Self-Judgment: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.
  2. Common Humanity vs Isolation: Recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
  3. Mindfulness vs Over-Identification: Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.  At the same time, mindfulness requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.

Here are three strategies from ‘Wake Up to Your Habits‘ that will provide practical pathways to develop more Self-Compassion:

If you want to be more: Caring, Compassionate, Tender

Ask yourself these questions to help Connect to Your Heart:

  • Who or what brings out tenderness in me?
  • What touches my heart?
  • How can I care for myself and/or others?

Try this body exercise to ‘Blink“:

  • Sit in front of a mirror. Close your eyes and imagine that you are sitting face to face  with someone you love. Pay attention to your feelings of care and tenderness. Now open your eyes.

If you want to be more: Loving, Affectionate, Liking

Ask yourself these questions to Appreciate What Matters:

  • What do I appreciate about myself?
  • What effect am I looking for?
  • What matters?

Try this body exercise to ‘Express Appreciation“:

  • Stand tall. Notice what you apreciate about your body – your feet, legs, torso, shoulders, head. What do you like about your senses – smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight? Expand your affection to all of you.

If you want to be more: Self-Confident, Self-Assured, Aligned

Ask yourself these questions to experience ‘Unconditional Acceptance‘:

  • What do I like about myself?
  • If I accepted myself unconditionally, what would be different?
  • What does life in alignment look like?

Try this body exercise to ‘Accept What Is‘:

  • Stand with your feed hip-width apart, with your arms and hands hanging loosely at your sides. Look into the mirror and say, “I accept all of who I am”. Now turn 90 degrees and repeat, “I accept all of who I am”. Turn 90 degrees twice more until you are facing the mirror. Repeat, turning in the opposite direction.

I love this quote by Rumi – I think it sums up what Self-Compassion is all about.

mm rumi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

The Three O’s of Optimism: Grow Through what you Go Through

Keri HatYou have a voice in your head. Can you hear it right now?

In neuroscience, the voice in your head is part of your Default Narrative Network. It’s the constant stream of thoughts (chatter, images, sounds, speech bubbles) going through your mind. The data in those thoughts is a record of what you have paid attention to over time, and how you have interpreted the observations around you. It is a never ending playlist of what has occurred in your life, and what assumptions, beliefs, rules, and truths you have attached to your life experience so far. Oh, and the voice also spends some time focused on the future, based on what has happened in the past and what assumptions, beliefs, rules and truths you can attach to what might happen tomorrow (or next week, next month…….you get the drift).

When you are faced with an obstacle or some adversity in your life, the ‘voice in your head’ dictates your pessimism or your optimism. In Martin Seligman’s National Bestseller, Learned Optimism, he details that the differences between optimists and pessimists is their ‘explanatory style’. In other words, the difference is what they say to themselves about the obstacle, setback or adverse situation.

Seligman describes that the explanatory style of a pessimist follows three themes, which he defines as The three P’s of Pessimism: Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personal.  Seligman notes that a pessimist is less persistent in dealing with setbacks or overcoming obstacles because when an obstacle presents itself, the pessimist believes that it will ALWAYS be an obstacle (Permanence), EVERYTHING is an obstacle (Pervasiveness), and I (the pessimist) will NEVER be any different (Personal). The result is a sense of hopelessness that negates any chance of personal growth or opportunity for change.
Seligman’s three P’s made sense to me when I read them; however, I found myself wondering – what are The Three O’s of Optimism?  Not finding them in his book, I decided to create them!

You can change the voice in your head to be more optimistic (hopeful, positive) by changing your explanatory style – by changing what you say to yourself in times of adversity or challenge.

The Three O’s of Optimism are: Occasion, Opportunity, and Ownership.

Occasion is a reminder that the obstacle before you is just that, an occasion… a moment in time. It is not ALWAYS bad, it just happens to be bad right now. The catastrophic language like EVERYTHING, ALWAYS and NEVER, which are used by the pessimist, will by themselves make you less persistent!  You will give up before you even start.  Really, think about any circumstance in which this generalized language is true, or even remotely useful.  It is disengageing language; if you believe that something is permanent, then it shall be permanent – because you will have made it so.  You can look at all the moments in your life as ‘occasions’ or occurrences: some are positive and some are not.

Opportunity is a reminder that setbacks or obstacles are just that – blips in the road, diversions along the way – which are often opportunities for greater learning and insight.  For example, if your relationship with your manager is becoming strained (an obstacle to your performance) that is an opportunity for you to pause, think about what you want from that relationship, and plan what you want to say to your manager.  The strain (‘problem’) is actually an indicator that you need to have a dialogue about how you work together.  This is an opportunity to go deeper to enhance your working relationship and make it better. At the end of the dialogue, you will undoubtedly have a stronger connection – impacting performance for you both. Unlike the pessimists dialogue about pervasiveness, the optimist knows that every occasion is an opportunity for learning and growing.

Ownership is a reminder that sometimes a setback or obstacle is a direct result of your personal actions, and sometimes it is not.  Sometimes, the setback is due to the actions of others. You are, of course, responsible for your actions along the way – and those actions will be easier choices for you when you realize that the setback or obstacle is not permanent or pervasive! As an optimist, you take responsibility for your experience, and you allow others to take responsibility for theirs.

Tune in to your explanatory style.  What do you say to yourself when you are faced with a setback or an obstacle? Are your thoughts helping you to grow through what you go through, or are they keeping you stuck in the muck?

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

 

Put a Little Love in your Heart

Heart…and the world will be a better place for you and me.

Do you believe that? Is it as simple as putting a little love in your heart? Will the world really be a better place?

I believe it. I believe that love trumps hate, that good trumps bad, that kindness trumps meanness….and I believe that we all benefit when we all have a little more love in our heart.

The lyrics by Jackie DeShannon provide a few insights about what you can do, like ‘Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand’, and ‘I hope when you decide, kindness will be your guide’.

I am reminded in this month of love, about another song by Haddaway called ‘What is Love?’ While I cannot help but think of the Saturday Night Live skit featuring Jim Carrey, Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell (with a huge smile on my face…and a little love in my heart),

..it dawned on me that we could all use a reminder of what love is, and how we might be able to put a little love in our heart. This skit is so engaging because it reminds us all of our search for ‘love’, for acceptance, for connection as we navigate our way through life. It also adds a humorous look at how we often don’t really know what love is. Rather than focusing on what love is NOT (love is not pain, like the lyrics, ‘Baby, don’t hurt me’ remind us), let’s focus on what love is and some things that you CAN do to generate it.

LOVE is strong attachment, attraction, warm affection, enthusiasm or devotion. When you think of this definition, what is ‘love’ to you?

Here is a little LOVE acronym with some ideas to help you put a little love in your heart:

L – Look around. On purpose, every day, choose to focus on what brings love into your heart. It might be a person, a pet, a place, a thing…take a few moments at the beginning and end of your day to focus on and ‘feel’ love in your heart. Remember to purposely focus on what you love about YOURSELF, and what you add to the people, places and things around you.

OOpt for compassion. You might not always ‘lend a helping hand’, maybe ‘kindness’ isn’t always ‘your guide’ – in fact, maybe you behaved down-right badly toward another person or situation. Show compassion to yourself (and to others when they might need that from you). Give yourself the oportunity to make an adjustment. Perhaps you will apologize, or maybe you will offer forgiveness. In all cases, let go and move on (with a little love in your heart).

V – Be Vulnerable. Rather than waiting for someone else to show kindness toward you, choose to go first. Put yourself on the line. Reach out. Help someone else. Make that call you don’t have time to make. Stop and chat with someone you might otherwise walk past. Offer a compliment or a word of encouragement to another person (and to yourself).

E – Nourish the Ecosystem. You Matter. What you think, feel and do makes a difference to you and to the ecosystems of which you are a part. Every moment of every day you are either contributing positively to the ecosystem (yourself, your family, your community, your workplace), or not. You determine whether or not ‘the world will be a better place’, or not. Choose positive. Choose nourishment. Choose life. Choose love.

And, if your mind and body are full of love….if the world is full of love….there is no room, no space, no chance for anything else to exist. And that is just better for you and me.

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

 

 

Why You Need to Write A Letter To Yourself

New Year 2017Lately, I have closed my keynotes by writing a letter from the future to the audience. The idea was inspired by Matthew Quick‘s book, “Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock”. Like George Bailey in the holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Leonard is contemplating suicide, and a caring teacher encourages him to write letters from the future to himself to remind him that he matters, to give him hope to live his life.

In both the book and the movie, we are reminded that life can be hard. There are challenges and obstacles that will continually confront us. And, there are beautiful moments, incredible people, and important lessons that can truly, positively, change our lives for the better. Life is hard, and we can live this life well if we pay attention to what’s really important to us.

Here’s a sample of a letter that I have shared with an audience. This one was a part of a keynote I had the honour of delivering to CAPSI’s PDW 2017 (Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns, Professional Development Week). The room was full of pharmacy students. and I chose in this letter to write it from me to each of them. The theme of their conference was ‘Beyond Boundaries’ and my message was filled with strategies for psychological resilience and positivity.

Dear (insert your name here):

You might not remember me – I was the keynote speaker at PDW 2017 in Winnipeg.

Over the years, I have heard such wonderful things about the work you are doing in Pharmacy. You have truly embraced the message of ‘Beyond Boundaries’ … you know that the biggest boundaries in life are those that exist in your own mind … you also know that is the same place to find the greatest opportunities awaiting your creation.

You clearly know what is important in life…it’s not the grades you got in school, but the people you worked with to get them; it’s not the material possessions you acquired when you started working, it’s the small moments sharing a laugh with a friend or helping someone in need that add the most to your life. You know that life is not a contest to be won but is instead a beautiful dance to create and enjoy with people around you. You know that with every boundary there is a pathway through, over or around – if you just pay attention – and remember why you are here.

On behalf of all the people you touch – the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the young adults on their own for the first time, and the senior citizens fearful about a changing world – I offer you our heartfelt gratitude. Thank you for caring, and thank you for connecting.

You will never know how important one smile, or one moment of kindness and compassion can matter to another person. It mattered to me when I visited your pharmacy the other day. You did not recognize me…I am much older now …but I recognized you and you made a difference to my day…and to my life.

You  Matter. Please continue to believe that.

Sincerely, Deri Latimer

Whenever I have done this for the audiences I have the privilege of working with, it has been a highlight for them. I add in some humour – generally reflecting on something that I shared in the keynote; but overall, people like the idea of the letter from the future. Many audiences ask me to send it to them after the event. We all need a reminder that we matter in this world; that we make a difference by the thoughts we think, the feelings we generate and the actions we take.

I encourage you to do this for yourself. Write yourself a letter from the future.

It’s the beginning of a new year. 2017. Bright, shiny and new. Why not write a letter to yourself from your future self; yourself on this day in 2018. What will you say to yourself…what has transpired, how have you lived, why are you grateful, who has mattered to you, and how have you impacted others?

Notice what happens.

(I am so saddened to hear of 12 year old Katelyn Nicole Davis‘s suicide on December 30. Perhaps a letter from the future might have helped her choose differently that day.)

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

 

5 Strategies to Make it a Jolly Holiday

Feeling Numb?

Feeling Numb? Chilly? Out of Sorts?

The holidays can be stressful. There’s alot to do, and the pressure is on to prepare food, entertain, and decorate your home. That’s all on top of the shopping!

Many of us love the holidays! We relish in the merry songtrack playing in the malls (with all the online shopping, isn’t it amazing that the malls are still full!!). We notice and respond to the warm and happy demeanour of the people we meet. We get excited about visiting friends and family.

Some of us dread the holidays. As Ray Williams reports in Psychology Today, “For some people, they get depressed at Christmas and even angry because of the excessive commercialization of Christmas, with the focus on gifts and the emphasis on “perfect” social activities. Other get depressed because Christmas appears to be a trigger to engage in excessive self-reflection and rumination about the inadequacies of life (and a “victim” mentality) in comparison with other people who seem to have more and do more.  Still others become anxious at Christmas because of the pressure (both commercial and self-induced) to spend a lot of money on gifts and incur increasing debt. Other people report that they dread Christmas because of the expectations for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they’d rather not spend time with. And finally, many people feel very lonely at Christmas, because they have suffered the loss of loved ones or their jobs.”

Whether this is a tough time of year or not for you, you can always benefit from some strategies to engage positive emotion. And, the bonus is…these strategies work all year long!

LOOKING FOR ‘HAPPY’?

Strategy: Think Gratitude

Thinking Questions:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What makes me smile?
  • What are my blessings?

Body Exercise:

Start a Gratitude Journal. Each day, write down three things for which you are grateful. What do you notice in a week? In a month?

LOOKING FOR ‘CALM’?

Strategy: Focus on Breathing

Thinking Questions:

  • How can I let go?
  • What images/sounds help me feel content?
  • Where does calm reside in me?

Body Exercise:

  • Relax into a favourite position. Touch your thunbs and forefingers and interlock them to make two rings. Rest here for 1-2 minutes.

LOOKING FOR ‘JOY’?

Strategy: Focus on Pleasure

Thinking Questions:

  • What is the source of my delight?
  • What brings me joy?
  • What uplifts me?

Body Exercise:

  • Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth. As you breathe out, allow the sound ‘Haaaaa’ to come out. Experiement with sounding softly and loudly.
  • What else happens in your body as you do this at least 8 times?

LOOKING FOR ‘UNDERSTANDING’?

Strategy: Observe and Honor the Other

Thinking Questions:

  • What emotion am I noticing in the other person?
  • What does the other person need?
  • Where do I feel connected to the other?

Body Exercise:

  • Step into the other person’s shoes by experimenting with mimicking the person’s standing, sitting, walking, gestures. Put yourself in their posture. How does it feel? What thoughts come up?

LOOKING FOR ‘LETTING GO’?

Strategy: Focus on Now

Thinking Questions:

  • When do I feel most free?
  • What do I do to let go and be in the present moment?
  • What opens me up?

Body Exercise:

  • Stand tall, balanced on both feet. Place your hands behind your head, fingers laced together. Press the back of your head into your clasped hands. Notice the sense of uplifting and opening in your chest and upper back.
  • Choose a strategy, or try them all. The key is….pause and notice the small shifts that might be occurring…and then appreciate and allow them to integrate within you.

As an added bonus, check out a wonderful book written by Kevin Rempel, Paralympian and Founder of the Sledge Hockey Experience. In his book, Still Standing, Kevin tells a compelling and authentic story of overcoming adversity. In one of the final chapters, he says “I get it. I’ve lived it. We all have down days. It’s part of human nature. I just want you to know you can take control of the situation. Here’s how I did it. 1) Accept everything. It allows you to look forward. ; 2) Get your priorities in order. Sleep. Exercise. Eat. Socialize.; 3) Journal. Get it out of your head. ; 3) Reach out for help, then accept help.

So, now…go out and create the kind of holiday (and life) you would like to create.