Be Kind, but Don’t Let People Walk All Over You

madewithover-4I have been collecting handouts for my own use and to give to clients for over thirty years. I’ve purged them many times, so only the best remain. This is one of them. It’s from a classic book, When I Say No I Feel Guilty.

Bill of Human Rights

  1. You have the right to refuse requests from others without feeling selfish or guilty.
  2. You have the right to feel and express anger and other emotions.
  3. You have the right to feel healthy competitiveness.
  4. You have the right to use your judgment in deciding your needs.
  5. You have the right to make mistakes (not the same old ones – but new ones).
  6. You have the right to have your opinions and ideas given the same respect and consideration others have.
  7. You have the right to ask for consideration, help, and/or affection from others.
  8. You have the right to tell others what your needs are.
  9. You have the right on some occasions to make demands on others.
  10. You have the right to ask others to change their behavior.
  11. You have the right to be treated as a capable adult and not be patronized.
  12. You have the right to not automatically be assumed wrong.
  13. You have the right to take time to sort out your reactions – to use your time space rather than others’ time space.
  14. You have the right not to have others impose their values on you.
  15. You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts and emotions and to take responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.
  16. You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.
  17. You have the right to change your mind.
  18. You have the right to say I don’t know.
  19. You have the right to say I don’t understand.
  20. You have the right to be illogical in making decisions.
  21. You have the right to say I don’t care.

Do you have any favorites? (I like #20) Any you don’t agree with? (I don’t know about #5–I make a lot of mistakes more than once before I finally learn.)

Hope you join me and others on The Self-Compassion Facebook page.

Smith, Manuel J., When I Say No I Feel Guilty. Dow press. 1975 (and reprinted many times).

*As a side note, I remember exactly when I got this handout. I was in an assertiveness training/therapy group for women while I was an undergraduate at Valparaiso University. The counseling center was in a charming old house on campus, full of old comfy chairs and overstuffed pillows on the floor. Judith K. Wells de Vargas (Judy) ran the group. She was a middle-aged woman at the time, changing careers and working on her graduate degree in counseling. I just googled her to see if I could find her. All I found was what I think was her dissertation. For any college students reading this, consider making use of your college counseling centers. Often staffed by graduate students (supervised by licensed psychologists), they have about 4 or 5 clients at a time, compared to when you’re out in the real world and you have A LOT of clients on your “case load”. Anyway, you’ll probably never get better care and attention. I know I couldn’t have survived college without Judy.

My favorite way to explain self-compassion

medium_280999386My favorite way to explain giving yourself compassion is the analogy of how you would treat a small child. Let’s say your child is learning to walk. After a few wobbly steps, do you criticize him or her and say, “Look at you. You’re so clumsy. What’s wrong with you that you can’t walk yet.”? Of course not. You offer encouragement. You’re excited! You might even clap your hands in delight.

Now let’s say your child wants to eat candy for dinner. You set limits and say, “no” because only eating candy will likely make your child feel sick and it simply isn’t healthy. People mistakenly think that self-compassion always means saying “yes” to yourself. Sometimes it means saying “no”–but doing so with kindness. It’s important to remember that self-compassion involves nurturing and limit-setting.

Here’s another post I wrote about self-compassion and limit setting.

Here’s an interview I did with Dr. Alice Boyes over at her blog, In Practice, at Psychology Today on The Self-Compassion Project.

photo credit:  via Photopin, CC

Self-Compassion and Limit-Setting

The Shifted Librarian photostream on Flickr

I think there are actually two aspects of self-compassion: the ability to nurture oneself and the ability to set limits with oneself. But when I think of self-compassion, I tend to focus primarily of the nurturing aspect.  For example, when I take a bubble bath, I view that as being self-compassionate. When I let myself rest when I’m tired, or when I take time to meditate—I see those things as practicing self-compassion.  And usually, since I tend to be overly serious and driven, it is the nurturing part that I most need to work on (as a side note: Greg said I must be the only person who puts a clock by the bathtub—I say, how else will you know when to get out?).

Right now I have several ideas for more blog posts to write. I have a gift certificate left over from my birthday, and I’d love to go shopping. It’s rainy and dreary outside, and curling up with the dogs on the couch reading sounds appealing. Not to mention, I just received in the mail some new Sharon Salzberg meditation CDs that I so want to try.  BUT, I also have a mound of paperwork to go through. I know you probably have this image of me that I’m super organized…that my “mound” is probably just one little pile. Not true. I literally have papers back from last summer still in multiple piles. Piles that have gotten so high that the contents from individual files have slid out all over the place; Piles that have migrated from the tops of the desk onto the floor.  The kicker was today when Greg said, “I can’t find our ‘Really Important Papers’ file.” Things have gotten out of hand.

I’ve always prided myself on being organized. And I’d be the last one to be described as a procrastinator (I always studied for tests and wrote papers way before deadlines). The truth is, I do procrastinate. I procrastinate by working. Then I can feel virtuous even as I’m procrastinating! I put off the mundane paperwork and housecleaning so I can pursue my creative interests, such as writing. While it feels good in the moment, when I walk into the rooms with all the piles, it’s unsettling, and I tend to keep a lot of doors closed.

In Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, she devotes whole sections to organization and getting thing done. She writes, “I was astounded by the dramatic boost in my mental energy that came from taking care of neglected tasks.”

So, right after I find the perfect picture to go with this post, I’m diving in to the piles of paperwork. And you know what, I think setting limits with myself will actually be the most self-compassionate thing I can do.

(P.S. In case my parent’s are reading this with alarm, while I was writing, Greg did find our “Really Important Papers” file.)