Compassion for an Agitated Brain

"A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can cange the course of your life." - Christopher K. Germer

I’ve had some challenges recently that triggered old, habitual defensive, fear-based thinking. If the thoughts were a character, it would be Glum from Gulliver’s Travels. “This is the worst thing ever. We'll never make it.”

I got really caught up in the stories and it felt like solid truth. It was painful, so as my brain tends to do, it offered up more stories about how I’ve learned nothing and will always struggle. Gee thanks brain for throwing gas on the fire.

Innocently I used to think emotional pain was proof that there was something was wrong with me. I probably acquired the idea from growing up in a home where no one knew how to deal with uncomfortable feelings and it was reinforced by our culture and marketing. We compare our insides to people’s outsides. I didn’t know that part of the human package contains an abundance of energetic emotions that move through us.

When I remembered to give myself space from the scary stories, I saw that I was having a lot of painful thinking creating painful feelings. Here is where my brain wants to jump in and say, “it’s just thought, you know that….why do you keep getting caught up in it….”

But because there is space from the stories now, instead of jumping on that thought, I extend compassion to a brain that is just trying to figure things out. Sweet brain. It is relentless in its quest for survival as that is what it is wired to do.

Understanding that our thoughts create our experience isn’t meant to be dismissive or blaming. If we are struggling, as humans do, self-compassion feels calming. I believe my heart (wisdom) and my brain (intellect) have a beautiful relationship when I know their strengths and weaknesses.

My heart wisely feels compassion for my human struggles and innocent misunderstandings. My brain has a lot of data stored. Some of it is useful, some not at all.

When they work together, there is balance, kindness, and a sense of being grounded.

Knowing this when I do get caught up in fear-based thinking, I’m less apt to become defensive and spiral down into a victim stance.

In the spaciousness of my heart, I extend compassion to an agitated brain rather than try to change my circumstances. Changing my circumstances from a place of reactivity usually doesn’t work out too well for me.

One of my very favorite Ram Dass quotes is, “We are all just walking each other home.” Isn’t that beautiful? That’s all we’re doing. When we understand our hearts and our brains, we are home. Maybe relationships are to help us find home within.

Do you ever catch yourself being dismissive with yourself?

Do you have compassion for your struggles?

Do you know your home within?

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