Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Light in the Wilderness

Here's my adaptation of 1 Nephi 17:13 in the Book of Mormon:

13 And I will also be your light in [your single years]; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards [your] promised [family]; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.

I'm so grateful I can be guided in anything, even (or especially) dating. =) And I have confidence He'll guide me in parenting too, and whatever any of the next challenges may be. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Self-Compassion: Week 3 (On Letting Go Of Perfectionism, and Embracing a Bright Future)

Hello all! I'd like to account for my self-compassion this week. =)

I didn't do a perfect job, but I was much more self-compassionate this week. My music therapy supervisor, Soozie, also helped me to be self-compassionate by assigning me to write down what things I did well in the children's group, and then share that list with her the next day. I wrote down the things I did well, trying to think of as many honest things I could, then I put the list aside. The next day I looked at it, and realized that my list described the attributes that I would want in a music therapist if I was hiring one. So that was a pretty happy moment! I think that writing it right after the experience means that I was able to remember all the good things clearly, but being a day separated from it helped me to evaluate it more clearly, and see it for how good it actually was. I could recognize the good, instead of being wrapped up in my thoughts of "How could I have forgotten the colored scarves? And why didn't I put the songs in a better order? And why can't I think fast enough on my feet, about what to do next?" Instead, I could say "I was really engaged with the kids in the group. And I was able to play songs on the violin without any preparation or written music, when the need called for it. And I included every child, even the ones who were quiet, and gave everyone a chance to shine. And I was authentic."

As I was thinking about this guidepost more this week and last, I remembered that the guidepost has a second part. The whole name of the guidepost is "Cultivating Self-Compassion. Letting Go of Perfectionism." Which gave me a little more direction in how I apply this self-compassion thing. I believe that I don't need to be constantly complimenting myself. I think that self-compassion is most important in those perfectionistic moments, those times when we get stuck in a circle in our heads, saying "Why did I make that mistake? Why can't I get this right? I'm not ___ enough! And now people have seen that!" My goal is to get into a habit of self kindness, so that when those perfectionistic moments come, I will be more easily able to say to myself, "Ali, I love you no matter what. You've got this. I know you will figure it out, in time. Breathe. =)"

I would like to share a quote about perfectionism that was very mind-opening for me. I share it on Facebook a few months back, and several others expressed it helped them in the same way. This is from Brene's book, "The Gifts of Imperfection," page 56:

Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It's a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it's the thing that's really preventing us from taking flight.

Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect. Healthy striving is self-focused -- How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused -- What will they think?

I've also heard her say in a video clip that perfectionism is a shield that prevents us from being truly seen.

The thing that started me on my journey to Chicago was actually a dream I had. The message conveyed to me in the dream was "Don't be afraid to truly be yourself. Those who care will accept you for who you are, and there will also be others who will not only accept you, but love you for it. And they will be loving the real you." And then the second message of the dream was "Do your internship in Chicago." I'm seeing that unfold in several possible ways, but I think the main one is that I am learning to love myself for who I am. And as I love myself for who I am, I imagine that all my relationships from here on out have the capacity to be infinitely more wonderful. I know I was supposed to come to Chicago, and I am so grateful for it. As I learn to do hard things and grow, while also loving myself through the uncomfortable growing experiences, I am coming to know myself more deeply, and recognizing a very bright and happy future more deeply than I have before. It will most certainly be hard, but my life is going to be more deeply joyful and exciting than I realized it could be.

Also, I wanted to share my morning reminder that I just posted on my wall (real wall in my room) yesterday.  Maybe you can say it to yourself as well. =)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Self-Compassion - Week 2

I'm here to check in and report about my efforts in self-compassion. I've had some good moments of self-compassion. However, I haven't even thought about it that much, because its just not my habit to be compassionate to myself. I hope to think of some ways to remind myself, or identify some things that may help trigger my memory of my commitment.

In thinking back, I got quite overwhelmed on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday mornings we have the pediatric music group, and that group is quite overwhelming for me. The music has to just keep continuing, in order to hold their attention, and needs to be high-energy most of the time as well. It involves thinking fast on your feet... and that's something that doesn't always come naturally to me. I'm a ponderer. And it's not very easy to ponder fast! Anyway, my stress was so apparent that Soozie put her hand on my shoulder and looked at me, saying "Ali! It's going to be okay!" Moments like that could use more self-compassion. Both groups that day ended up going really well, so my worrying was for nothing anyway. Which is just a good reminder to me for the future. Things go well the majority of the time, as long as I am putting in effort.

There is something I want to add in though. This morning I had a really good prayer experience, where I really was focused on wanting to hear what my Father has to say to me, so I wrote down the words that came to me. And the words that come from Him and through my mind were full of compassion. I want to include in the practice of self-compassion the receiving of compassion from God.

I like my idea of listening to "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" each morning. I didn't do that this week. I was running late many of the mornings this week. I will plan to go to bed earlier this week, so that I don't wake up as grouchy, and I can enjoy the morning and fill it with hope and compassion. I will also take time at lunch and in the evening to write down at least one self-compassionate statement. I will put an alarm in my phone to remind me to do that. My goal is ultimately to be self-compassionate spontaneously and whenever the need arises. But for now, I will start with a scheduled and structured approach, to get it on my mind more. It will become more natural and spontaneous as time goes on. I also plan to take a little more time for listening during my scripture study, instead of just saying a fast prayer and reading.

All in all, I do just want to say that I have had a really good week. I did a lot of things well, and I will continue to learn new things next week, in my internship. I also made some good healthy emotional choices about how to spend my time on Friday, allowing myself to have fun. I made lots of small good emotional choices in how I think about some of my relationships as well. I feel like I'm becoming a happier person as time goes on, and I'm really grateful for that. I'm grateful to be where I am in life, working on making both the world outside me and the world inside me more beautiful.

I think for next week's post, I'd like to explore the second half of this guidepost: "Letting Go Of Perfectionism." Look forward to it. =)

Sunday, January 4, 2015


This month I will be working on self-compassion.

The easiest way to explain it is: I will talk to myself the same way I talk to the people I love.

When I first tried to work on this last year, it was really hard. I tried to think of nice things to say to myself, and everything I would try to say would turn into advice or direction-giving. It was really hard! I've had a little bit of practice since then, but am excited to become more consistent and genuine with it this month.

At first I was hesitant to work on this, because it sounded so selfish, and I have issues about selfishness. As I've read the research and thought about it more, I've realized self-compassion is not a selfish thing. It just means we don't treat ourselves like an enemy. It doesn't mean we put ourselves and our needs far above everybody else's and tune out of their lives. It just means that we don't attack ourselves, especially in moments of weakness.

If we consider ourselves to be our own friend, we should talk to ourselves as a friend. If we consider ourselves an enemy, well didn't Jesus Christ say to love our enemies?

Self-compassion does not mean we take more and more time to ourselves. It just means that the time that we do spend with ourselves doesn't involve verbal abuse from within.

As awkward as it might be, this week when I am tempted to insult myself, I will either say "I've got your back, Ali", give myself a hug (seems silly, but has helped in the past!), or find something else encouraging to say. And I will start my commute every day with the song "I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me." =)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wholehearted Journey

I am intending 2015 to be a very healing year. I know things won't be perfect by the end of the year, but I know things will be better. No matter what the circumstances outside me, my life will be better internally.

I intend to do this through a focus on my Savior, Jesus Christ. I believe that through Him, my sins can be forgiven, my mistakes can be learned from and made beautiful or remedied, and I can be given the strength to grow and change. He sees me as "the glorious being [I am] capable of becoming."

I will be studying and applying His Atonement in my daily and weekly life. I also intend to study and apply the things I've learned from Brene Brown's research. Her research (without God) is not enough, because, as part of her research explains, spirituality is a necessary component. A belief in God and His love is essential in order for healing and resilience to occur.

For me, healing comes through Jesus Christ. And I believe that whether or not people acknowledge it, He is the source of all healing.

I'm going to be trying out each of the Guideposts to Wholehearted Living, one for each month, and living them, to see if these seeds are good. (See Alma 32.) I believe they are, but I will try and see. And I am very excited to see the fruits that I believe will come, as I plant these seeds. =)

Not only do I believe this will help me be happier, I feel that it will help me to bring light to others, and help me to serve people more powerfully, in my profession, my personal ministry, and in my everyday life.

--The guidepost I intend to embrace for the month of January is self-compassion. Which I will write about tomorrow!--