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Hi again, this is Diane from Portland. My question is, what do you mean by self-love? My therapist asked me, what would you say to your son if he told you that he was going through what you are? I would tell him that I support him unconditionally. After I beat my therapist asked me, now, why wouldn't you talk to your inner self that way, walking around every day thinking you need to fix yourself pretty damn exhausting. Goodbye, 20, 20.


And then here's to bigger and better things in 20 21 from ABC.


This is the 10 percent happier podcast. I'm Dan Harris. Hey, gang, I know New Year's is still a few days away, but we're not waiting.


Starting today, we're kicking off a multi week New Year's bonanza and we have a very specific theme we're going to be hammering home in our programming self-love.


That's right. We're leaning into the cheese. We're diving into the fondue. We're serving the brie.


That's a phrase that you're going to hear one of our guests today coined in real time. And I'm stealing it right now. I want to be clear. This is not SAP for the sake of SAP.


This is SAP for the sake of science and sanity, as tens of millions of us go about the annual humiliating ritual of making and then abandoning New Year's resolutions, there is ample evidence that you are much more likely to achieve your long term goals if you pursue those goals not out of self-loathing or shame, which is the not so subtle subtext of the whole New Year New You thing, but instead with self-love or self compassion.


So like I said, we've got a whole bonanza of programming coming up for you.


First, our New Year's series, which starts today right here on the podcast. Over the next few weeks, we've got a blockbuster lineup, including scientists, meditation teachers and even Karabo from the hit Netflix show Queer Eye.


He's a vocal proponent of this whole self-love thing.


Second, we're going to be running a free New Year's meditation challenge built around this same theme on the 10 percent happier app. The idea here is that you can take all of the nuggets of wisdom you'll get on the show and gently pound them into your neurons while you actually meditate.


Over the course of twenty one days, starting on Monday, January 4th, our teachers will guide you through a series of simple, easy meditations that both demonstrate the benefits of self-love and self compassion and show you how to actually do it, how to go beyond the cliche and make it part of your life.


Here's how the New Year's meditation challenge works. Your goal will be to meditate at least 15 out of twenty one days. So daily ish every day you'll get a short video for me, often in conversation with one of our teachers, followed by a guided meditation about 10 minutes long. We've carefully curated these meditations and we're including a lot of brand new ones that will premiere in the challenge. If you miss a few days, no problem. Don't worry.


There's enough overlap here that you can pick it back up and continue to make progress. You can also, for the record, choose any meditation in the app and you'll still get credit in the challenge. Your home base for checking in on your progress will be the 10 percent happier app. And since we know some of you like gold stars and appreciate extra motivation, there will be bonus levels if you average more than five minutes and more than 10 minutes a day.


You can also invite your family and friends and do the challenge side by side, keeping one another accountable if you're a longtime listener, this meditation challenge is a great opportunity to learn directly from the expert teachers you know and love as guests on this podcast. The teachers this year are Susan Piver, Tourie Sali and Jeff Warren. And if you've never meditated before, this challenge is specifically designed to help you learn how to meditate. So everybody's welcome here. You can join the challenge by downloading the 10 percent happier app right now, wherever you get your apps or by visiting 10 percent.


All one word spelled out dotcom. By the way, in case I haven't said this, it's all free. And if you already have the app, just open it and follow the instructions to join. For our less tech savvy listeners, we've included detailed instructions about how to download the app and sign up in the show notes. So go check those out. All right. So to kick things off today, I'm going to talk to two of the teachers who will be featured in the challenge, Jeff Warren and Susan Piver.


A few weeks ago, you may remember this, we solicited listener questions, listener voicemails on the subject of self-love. And in this episode, we play those voicemails for Jeff and Susan and they give some fascinating answers. It's basically a huge meditation nerd fest. By way of background, in case you're unfamiliar with these characters. Jeff is a meditation teacher based in Toronto, Canada, and a regular teacher on the 10 percent happier app. He and I wrote a book together a couple of years ago called Meditation for Fidgety Skeptic's.


And Susan Piver is a meditation teacher based in Somerville, Massachusetts, and is the author of Nine New York Times best selling books. OK, so here we go with Susan and Jeff. Susan Piver and Jeff Warren, two stalwarts, thank you very much for doing this. So glad to be here. Very happy to be here. I think you guys know how we're going to do this. We solicited voicemails from listeners to this show and we asked people to submit questions about the rather squishy subjects of self-love and self compassion.


So going to play the questions we got.


And we're also going to play some clips from the New Year's meditation challenge that both of you guys participated in and in between the playing of the aforementioned clips, we'll chitchat and reflect and gossip and whatever else we feel like doing. So without further ado, let's play the first batch of voicemails we got and then we'll talk on the back end.


Hi there. Thank you so much for doing this. I think it's a great idea. You're right on that. Sometimes self-love feels like a platitude that I have no idea what that means. I don't know what it feels like. I don't know what it looks like. And while I understand love towards others, love towards concept, spiritual love, self love is the one I just don't have a handle on. What is it and how do we know we're there and how do we cultivate it?


Hey, guys, thank you so much for doing the podcast. I found it a little bit ago and it's wonderful. Just wonderful. So I have a question. Is there a difference between self-love and self acceptance? My query would be defining self-esteem versus self-love. Are they related? Is that different? Because I think of myself as having a good bit of self-esteem, but I don't know about the self-love much. Aloha. Thanks. Aloha.


Back to you, Susan. Let's start with you. It sounds like there is and I think this is legitimate. There's some confusion about what self-love is.


Yeah, these are such good questions. And the first voicemail said something really interesting. I have no idea what that means. I don't know what it feels like. I don't know what it looks like. And I think that is actually the perfect place to start, because if you're like, OK, self-love, I get what that is. I'm going to aim for it. I'm going to try to accomplish it. I'm going to try to feel it.


Oh, now I'm judging myself for feeling it, not feeling it. Then you're already sort of out of the ballpark of self-love, as I understand it, which means rather than trying to like yourself or think that you are awesome in all cases, self-love means something more like being with yourself as you are in each moment when you like yourself, when you don't like yourself, when you're confused about self-love and when you're clear about it. So a good place to start is to sort of ask yourself, what would you do with a friend who is struggling with how they felt about themselves, how they felt about their lives.


You wouldn't shout at them. You wouldn't tell them you need to feel differently. You would just sort of listen and be with them. And that's what is meant by self-love here. It's not, again, self like or I'm awesome or I feel accomplished or successful. Sure. You feel those things sometimes, but other times you don't. And the indication of self-love is how quickly can you turn toward what you feel rather than trying to strong arm yourself into feeling something that you think you ought to feel.


So that's also really a great, I would say, consequence of meditation practice. The second person said, is there a difference between self-love and self acceptance? And I would say, no, there is no difference. And the key to both is allowing allowing yourself to be exactly as you are. And sometimes that feels marvelous and sometimes it feels excruciating and sometimes it's boring and sometimes it's beautiful. And to allow your inner experience to be what it is with a sense of companionship is so much gentler and more empowering than constantly tinkering with yourself to be this or that.


And that is very workable. That is a very tender and. Easier in a sense than I suck. Oh, no, what? I've definitely had the eyes suck, but we can get into that later. Jeff, Jeff, let me get over to you for a second, because I suspect that people get hung up on the word love. Love has been ruined in many ways as a word by, you know, Hollywood and pop songs.


And as soon as that word escapes your lips or enters your mind, you're envisioning something grandiose. It might be useful to define love down to something just a skosh north of neutral.


Yeah, I mean, that's why I think the self acceptance is really the ground of love, you know, it's the ground of just saying it's very sanes this is what's here. This is who I am. I'm going to accept the full messy contour or the full catastrophe, you could say. So there's this very generous decision to hold all of that as something that's already here. It's very loving and there can be a kind of neutrality in that. But then there's to me a kind of more active, sparkly piece which may or may not be there.


But this is this thing of like, can you begin to actually treat yourself as someone who is beautiful, whose various characteristics are the right characteristics, you know? And so there's a kind of sparkling this that can be there as well, but it doesn't have to go there. I'm speaking from my experience where I did a lot of straight up insight practice into seeing patterns and accepting who I was. But there was this there was still a kind of level illness in there, almost a kind of grimness in there.


And what I didn't see was any kindness to myself, even in the accepting. So I had to learn to begin to treat myself exactly like Susan said, as the way I would treat a friend with just a little more kindness. And that just opened everything up. That became a kind of path. A more human path is more of a way into my own humanity. Does that make sense?


It makes complete sense, and it absolutely tracks with my own experience where I was being, quote unquote, nonjudgmental.


Be aware, mindful of all of the junk that's coming up in my mind. But there was a coldness, a clinical journalistic stance there that I think concealed no small amount of aversion.


And when I turned on the warmth, which at first felt really contrived. And I had to practice it through meditation. It really changed things a lot. How does one turn the warmth on toward your own patterns, et cetera, et cetera? And what's the difference between having some warmth or caring towards your own suffering and ugliness and et cetera, et cetera? What's the difference between that and like self-esteem, you know, staring in the mirror and telling yourself how awesome you are?


Well, I think it's what Susan said, which is that, you know, self-esteem is a kind of evaluation. It's like these this is the way I am. And I like these things about who I am. You know, self compassion doesn't really care about who you are. You can be anyway. However you are is still worthy of care. However, you are still just exactly the way in which whoever your friend is, whatever qualities they may have, if you see them having a hard time, you're going to like you're going to show concern.


So in a way, the self compassion is like it's like leveling the playing field of care. You're no longer making a special, spiteful exception for yourself as someone you don't show it to. You treat yourself exactly the way you would treat anybody else. And so how you do that, you know how to do that is first of all, don't make it into this thing again. What Susan said, it's it's this very common sense response at first.


It's just noticing that you're having a hard time. You may not have noticed. I mean, that's been the work for me is less the work around generating some special compassion thing. It's been more of the work around noticing when I'm having a hard time in the first place, which can be super subtle. And I'm in some story about having a hard time. And then I'm either just trying to ignore that or I'm even worse. I'm berating myself around the fact that I'm having a hard time.


So self compassion is noticing that and breaking that cycle instead of continuing in this tighter loop of judgment, it's suddenly you're moving to this open space of more caring response. It's just much more pleasurable to be in that space. Let's dive more deeply now into how we can use meditation to get us into that space as as Jeff just said, I want to tap another clip here.


The clip I'm about to play is not from voice mails from listeners. This instead is a clip from the meditation challenge. We're about to launch the New Year's meditation challenge. And this is a slice of a conversation between me and Susan about how to link self compassion and meditation. Take a listen.


As you know, the theme of the challenge really is how we can create a better relationship with ourselves, not kick our own, but as much. How does meditation help with that?


Yeah, it helps better than anything I have ever discovered because it sort of turns on its head the normal idea that to work on ourselves, we have to find what's wrong and then apply a lot of self aggression to change it into something else. And meditation actually says the opposite. It doesn't start from the assumption that there's something wrong with you that you need to fix. But in meditation, the assumption is there's nothing wrong with you. And if you relax, you will see that who you are is already completely whole and worthy.


So it dispenses with the self aggression that so many of us turn to when a new year arrives. Like this is what I want to change and this is what I want to fix and excellent change and fix all the things.


But meditation, rather than fueling that effort, I would say, supports you to see what you can truly be confident right now in yourself, including all your brilliance and all your difficulties.


Just to be clear here, one of the ways in which meditation can do this is over and over. You're confronted with the humiliating racing nature of your own mind and over and over you say that's cool and you start again and again and again. And that really can change the way you are with yourself.


Well, said, Harris, when a cheating system sounds like a know it all, there's so much to unpack there. Before we do that, though, I just want to say, for those of you who are contemplating signing up for the meditation challenge, and I hope that's everybody, the way it works is every day you get a clip, a video clip, a short one with me talking to Susan or Jeff or tourists, along with another great meditation teacher.


We also have a couple of clips that we're using from Kuramoto, who is one of the stars of that great show on Netflix, the reboot of Queer Eye. He's a very, very interesting guy who's worked as a social worker and is really interested in issues around self-love. So he'll be featured in a couple of the video clips. And so each day for the twenty one days of the challenge, you get a little bit of a video and then it slides directly into an audio guided meditation.


So that's how it works. But let's get back to the subject at hand here, which is how to use meditation to develop this self love or self compassion or self acceptance that we're talking about here.


Susan, you said something there that I got a little stuck on, not in a critical way, but in a maybe in a self-critical way.


You said, and I'm quoting here, If you relax, you'll see that who you are is already completely whole and worthy. And maybe I've been meditating incorrectly for the last 11 years, but I don't know that I've ever had that insight. Where's the disconnect here?


So. You had the insight that you hadn't had that insight, which I know sounds kind of circular. The insight itself is evidence in this view anyway, of your worthiness, wholeness, another word for which is wakefulness. So your ability to see who you are and how that shifts from moment to moment. It's called worthiness and wholeness, and it's basically how we were born, we were not born with preferences beyond, you know, I'd like to be warm and loved and so forth, but we can have a lot of opinions about ourselves.


And so I'm not suggesting we should go back to being big babies or little babies or any kind of babies.


But just this idea that you have a mind that works in a heart that is open and a capacity to see, that's the evidence. So I think what you're saying is just noticing. That you have this capacity to see your mind with some clarity. Is the Holness. Yes. Really, because I was just kind of guessing it's really, really sweet, I guess you know it I investigate this myself all the time. Like, do I really think this is do I really believe this?


Or am I just, like, parodying something that someone else told me? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.


But the more I try to look for well, actually, am I OK? Am I an OK person? Am I worthy? Am I good? Am I do on my whole and all that. I can come up with reasons all day long why I'm not. It doesn't seem useful in any way, but when I notice that I am responsive, I am receptive, I am open, I get a little closer to what I think it means. So we're born into a world that says you're not OK, whether it's a religious background or a cultural background or watching too many ads on TV, the message that we get all the time is not OK.


Actually, you need to purchase something or believe something to make yourself OK. And it just amplifies a sense of lack. What if I thought I am OK? Yeah, and all of my doubts were a sign of confusion. Could I at least equally claim that? And the answer is yes, chef. I heard you sort of agree, I think. Did you have something that you were thinking right now?


Oh, yeah. I'm just loving what you're saying. And I just what I, I mean, I think what we're talking about is what practice is all about. It's about leading us into a perspective in our life where things are OK, in a sense independent of conditions.


I love listening to guys talk. I've made the joke before on the show that I have this magical ability to channel the desires of the audience and articulate them on the show.


I have this sense that there may be people in the audience who are very much right back to that first voice mail.


Really want to know on a very, very, very basic and very, very granular level, how do I use meditation to cultivate this unicorn of self-love that we're conjuring here? So, Jeff, let me just go to you with that.


What if I want to sit down and meditate and start to turn on the warmth to get into that zone of just a little bit north of neutral? What what's the basic blocking and tackling there?


Right. So basically, meditation is the sitting practices, the training ground. It's this deliberate leave, very simple medium in which you can sit and get relatively quiet and begin to notice what's going on under the surface. The insights you generate there, you can then bring out into the world so you get better and better at doing that on the fly out in the world. So your first job, just from a straight up practical point of view, is to begin to develop a clarity of knowing when you're having a hard time.


That sounds very trivial. A lot of us think we know when that is. And sometimes it is very obvious. There's a dramatic thing that we're wrestling with. But what I've found in addition to that, there are more subtle ways in which we're in a story that's causing ourselves suffering and we don't even realize we're doing it. So we're in a story, for example, to use the theme of the show about how I need to fix myself, how how I am isn't really all that great.


You know, I kind of don't like how I am. I need to be better. I need to be like this. So in the middle of that, there's this little knife going, this little knife that's going into your heart again and again. This little judgment that you have for yourself or maybe another one is I'm worried about the future. And it's like this low level worried. I don't know quite how things are going to go, but there's this sort of panicked hyper vigilance going on under the surface where I'm having a and I'm having a hard time.


And it's just kind of it's you know, it's sort of flavoring everything else or whatever it is. You start to go in and start to see that there's this little layer of hurt. And what happens normally is we just go on with that. We either try to ignore that or we try or we have a judgment around that. So it's like we're feeding that layer of hurt. It just keeps going around. We're stuck in this particular loop. So the meditation is just first noticing.


There's that little layer of hurt there that's going on and then choosing this different response that's choosing to just be concerned about that. Again, you're not choosing to turn on the, like, fireworks of, like super love where you're going to squeeze yourself and massage oil and have some kind of party. This is all this is just saying is a wait. Actually, I'm hurting right now, just like my friend would be hurting this slight moment of concern, of turning towards and then and then from that place of beginning to just making a decision to practice what caring looks like for you carrying me.


Just look in that moment like repeating a phrase like, oh, boy, dude, you're having a hard time. I hope you feel a little bit better or that looks hard or whatever. It is a phrase that begins to kind of shift the tone of that inner world, or it may be a different strategy. You kind of learn what your self care things are. It might be that, oh, when I'm in this place, you know what I can do for myself that's quite caring.


I could go for a good walk in nature or actually I'm just going to lay on my back and I'm going to stretch my hamstrings or I'm going to watch the Queen's Gambit again. You know, whatever it is, some it's like if you were seeing a friend who had a hard time and you'd be like, yo, I see you're having a hard time. Hey, look, come on, let's go for a walk or let's you would just you might engage in some activity that helps some kind of shift tracks a little bit.


So I mean, to me, that's what it looks like. It looks like noticing when I'm having a hard time and just turning towards and going, oh, that looks hard. And right away that just creates a little bit of space.


Yeah, the turning towards is key. Absolutely key, and to break that down to it's like most foundational qualities. That's what we're doing in meditation. We're turning toward by working with our attention and what it is resting on. So that's not just a device to make yourself into a better anything. That capacity to work with attention and make choices about where it is directed is super important in what Jeff is suggesting, because if you can't work with attention, if you get overrun, as we all certainly do, from time to time by the inner condition and you don't have any agency over where attention is going, then everything just becomes much more difficult.


One of my favorite things that any human being ever said was said by the poet and Zen teacher John Tarrant Roshi, who said Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it, we bless and are blessed. So as you know and as people who are maybe beginning meditation will know, we work with attention in meditation, not thoughts, not change this into that. But let me place my attention on my breath, for example. And that's a very simple thing to do.


And then, of course, your attention skitters away and and you come back or you notice you're thinking, then you let go. So there's something about shining the light of awareness on the notion that you are thinking, oh, I see that I'm thinking that actually seems to self liberate the thought, meaning you can let go. It dissolves. There's something so potent. About knowing where to turn your awareness. In the effort. To achieve self-love and friendship toward yourself, so I just will say again, because I think it's so powerful.


Attention is the most basic form of love. So it's not a mechanism. It's a gesture of love.


Yeah, I mean, attention liberates when you turn to anything with clarity and equanimity. It's like whatever it lands on, it sort of shaves the suffering out of it. It doesn't eliminate the pattern. It doesn't eliminate who you are. What it shaves out or eliminates, you could say, is what was fixated in it, what was driven. So it has this liberating quality that I mean, I see this again and again in my practice. I'm amazed at it.


You know, you find you're in some pattern of obsessive thinking or feeling and you turn this caring attention is generous attention towards it, and then you just stay with it, accepting it.


And if you can't accept it, whatever it is you're feeling, you can accept that. Yeah, exactly. You don't have to reject anything.


I find that very you can always back up to a broader perspective. There's just back up again. Whatever problem you're in, it's like but then you see that and back up again. It's like this continual recursive backing backing up seriously.


And just to say, though, because I you know, I have much less on the cushion time than either of you, but I based on what I've experienced thus far, I agree with everything you've just said.


And to bring back the point you made earlier, Jeff, that for some of us, myself included, and it sounds like for you and I suspect for many people listening the attention alone.


Is not enough or you're not doing you're not actually I use this language gingerly, but you're not actually doing the attention, right. In other words, there's a certain aversion baked into what you think is your non-judgemental.


That's what I'm talking about.


And that's where the extra steps that you listed before can be very helpful, like the saying a kind phrase to yourself, et cetera, et cetera, which I it feels for me at least feels really contrived.


And I didn't want to do it. I still don't want to do it.


And when I surrender to the cheese, it's when I dive into the fondue, it is much better. Let me give you an example.


I'm embarrassed to admit this, but that probably means it's worth admitting we taped an interview that's going to post in a couple of days.


It's going to be part two of this series with a scientist from Harvard named Chris Girma, who's phenomenal, and he is one of the leading experts in self compassion. He made mention of how occasionally he'll be feeling some pain, either in meditation or just in free range living.


And he'll actually put his hand on the place in his body where the pain is showing up. You know that some emotional pain has physiological ramifications. So maybe you're feeling, you know, somebody spilled a hot cup of coffee on your solar plexus or whatever. You put your hand there. He was saying and say something, you know, corny to yourself, like, you know, oh, sweetie, it'll be fine. I can't bring myself there. But I was I've been feeling anxious about something certain super not interesting for the last couple of days.


And yesterday I was meditating and I noticed that I felt really anxious. And that's kind of like dull thing in the center of my torso.


And I put my hand there really reluctantly and with a lot of anger toward Chris for forcing me to do this and said, like, it's cool, dude, you'll be fine.


I got you. Or this just sucks, you know, like, let's just acknowledge that. And the whole system calmed down.


I hate admitting this, but it actually worked because, Dan, you're a mammal. Dude, acceptance is cosmic. You know, act of love and care is mammalian. It's animal. It's the body wants the touch. It wants the care. It's the most natural response. So it's just add that extra little gravy, you know, and so you have to just surf that wave of Brehme. I mean you need to surf that wave of Bre-X with your pirate shirt and your hair flowing back.


I used to ride that mcmillion love wave keys to just really mix the metaphors there.


I am loving that visual I got to say. All right, let me change the subject just slightly and ask you a tactical question about challenges. Susan, you know we're we're doing this meditation challenge and we're playing some clips here from the meditation challenge along with voicemail's. And I just wonder if you have any thoughts, Susan, about signing up for a twenty one day challenge?


Is that can that be helpful to people and if so, how? Yes, I it's extremely helpful. In fact, it's absurdly helpful. And I know I'm not alone in this, but. I have trouble being consistent in my meditation practice, and I've been a meditator for years. It's like nineteen ninety three. It's like a seriously long time. But I still struggle with how do I know I don't feel like doing it.


Oh, I better do it. That kind of thing. And P.S., I've noticed that 99 percent of people I've ever spoken to about meditation, which now is, is quite a few. They also struggle with consistency and they think there's something wrong with them. And at one point I just remember realizing, wait a minute, I'm not a mathematician, but it's mathematically impossible for 99 percent of human beings who want to meditate to lack the self-discipline to do so.


That's just that doesn't make any sense. There must be something else. And so I thought about it a lot. And I think just to say to yourself, OK, you know, you should meditate. People say it's good for you. You know, you ought to do it, OK? Young man, young lady, you sit down there and you do it and you don't get up for ten minutes. Well, that that has some some utility, but that doesn't really help.


It's not going to make it stick. You need like two other things. And the challenge supplies those two other things. So you need to know how to practice. OK, that's number one. The challenge will teach you that you need to have some way of considering what happens to you as you practice, not from a therapeutic point of view, but just to reflect on what is changing and something nothing. So you hear conversations with people in the challenge and and you ask yourself questions and you have different experiences of meditation.


So you start to develop a relationship with a path that starts to unfold for you. And it's very particular to you. That's the second and the third. And this is so weird because I'm like, wait, that can't be right. This is a solitary practice. Why do I need a community to make it sustainable? But it from my observations, that is the linchpin to know you're practicing with others as part of a community. Whether you ever talk to them or ever see them or not doesn't matter.


But to know that you're doing this together seems to create a strong foundation. So it's it's important to know how to meditate. It's important to contemplate or consider what happens as a result. And it's important to be part of a group. Whether it's temporary or not, it doesn't matter. But to know that you sit with others, those three make a practice sustainable and the challenge provides all three. And all you have to do is just click on something.


So, yes, in other words, that's a long winded way of saying, hell, yeah, I think is extremely useful. Beautifully said.


Yeah. I like the way you're framing it there, Susan, because again and again, I don't want to be too Scelzi about this. I mean, it's totally fine if you don't sign up for the challenge. But I do think it's a kind of the way you describe it, an act of self-love, an act of self compassion because you're helping yourself put up a practice that's really beneficial.


Getting back to the self love angle here, many of us have blocks here, a variety of blocks.


And so there's actually a this clip I want to play now that is from the challenge where Jeff and I this is one of the challenge videos. We're going to play you an excerpt from where Jeff and I talk about some of the blocks to self-love.


So here it is, something I've noticed that is a little bit annoying is that all the cliches tend to be true. I mean, there's a reason why they became cliches. So I'm going to give you a lesser known cliche today. That is very true, which is that comparison is the thief of joy. Really. If you walk around, compare yourself to other people, it's going to make you miserable. And it's particularly relevant at this time of year because many of us are motivating ourselves to make or break habits out of a sense of comparison.


We want to look like our local Instagram influencer or some celebrity we've seen, or maybe we're even comparing ourselves to a younger version of ourselves. For example, I'm often trying to get back the body I had at age thirty five, which is incredibly frustrating and probably impossible. So let's talk now a little bit about how to manage what meditators often refer to as the comparing mind with Jeff Warren. So. So what are your thoughts about how we can work with this painful trend?


I think many of us view internally about comparing ourselves to other people.


I mean, first step is noticing it happening in the first place. And that's not a trivial step. It's very subtle and sneaky the way it kind of happens. A lot of this is about using mindfulness to see what stories you're walking around with. The comparing yourself stories often emerges from a kind of story of not feeling good enough, not measuring up. So noticing it is the most important thing. The next thing is to give yourself a break to like this is the person you are.


This is the place you're at. What would it actually feel like to accept myself where I'm at? Who I am right now, and that that acceptance is really the ground of compassion, and then if you do have changes that you want to make small, realistic changes, they're much more likely to land from that ground.


So we're talking here about the many blocks that exist for many of us when it comes to self-love.


We referenced earlier the fact that a lot of us find it just. Irretrievably corny, and then we just talked about the fact that comparing ourselves to other people can play self-love even further out of reach, we heard from Jeff there. I want to bring in Susan Daouda to riff on what you just heard. Susan, does that land for you?


Oh, 100 percent, yeah. And it is so incredibly painful, the comparing mind and we live in a world, as I don't have to explain to anybody that is inviting those comparisons constantly and what I find useful, usually because sometimes I just cry. But what I usually find helpful is first, don't try to remove the comparison. Then I'm in a fight with myself. I'm like, oh, I don't feel that feels something else. So if I dig into the comparison, well, maybe actually that person is not really awesome and you really are now also not useful.


But if I feel the quality of the comparison, which is sometimes I feel it in my body, like you were describing earlier than about you felt something burning and you placed your hand and it was helpful. So what is.


I never said that, OK, that and I never said that. That wasn't me. OK, I must have fallen asleep and had a little weird little dream there for a second. OK, I'm awake now if you feel it in your body.


OK, I feel this comparison to someone else who I think I ought to be. What's happening? Are my shoulders tensing up? Is my stomach clenching? Or sometimes people don't feel these things in their body. They feel them in the environment. Just this suddenly seemed like a scary place, more dangerous tune into the sensation of it is really an important way to begin softening toward it.


And then the key this is the clincher is really hard is. Not the story of it, the feeling without the story, so you may tune in to what you feel, you know, less than whatever it might be, and then your mind starts making thoughts while it's because of this or because of that or they're not so great, you're great or vice versa, whatever it might be. No, those will let go. Just let go of the story of the comparison and instead attend to the feeling of distress, whatever you might call it, that comes with the comparison.


And as we were sort of talking about earlier, just the fact of attending and this is also another word for attending is feeling, feeling. This is not assessing. It's not analyzing. It's not disproving or debating. It's how do I feel in my body or in my world right now? Let me just be with that. Let me just spend some time with that. And that introduces a note of softening. Also, as Jeff was mentioning earlier, that creates the space for something else.


What I find for myself, and this is just me, is as I attend to it, it starts to dissipate a little bit. And then often some part of me goes, well, you know, you actually you really should be better at this or that. OK, ok. OK, young lady, I hear you. But let me go back to the feeling of it being with my in my body and it starts to dissipate a little bit more so.


That's what helps me is, as I was taught, feel the feeling and drop the story, and that is a super amazing seed syllable instruction.


Yeah. Notice what's here. Yeah, notice what's here, notice what's here. Let that just be the basic guidance, you know, instead of getting all intellectually cut up. And what is the right way to work with this kind of problem in this kind of thing? And you end up just creating more noise in the system. Just notice was here again and again, turned towards it and notice it and learn for yourself experience through your body. What happens when you do that again and again and again.


And you need to hear that instruction again and again and again and again and again.


So true, because you're always going to forget and then you're going to remember and then you're going to forget and then you're going to remember. And that's the human game.


Yeah, well, that forgetting is what's keeping me in business. So that's where all of us and businesses. Speaking of business, we got to take a break to get paid with some commercials here. We'll be right back with more from Susan and Jeff.


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Hi there. Well, thank you so much for the whole program that you put together. It has been wonderful. And thank you for letting teachers join for free. It's the best to thank you so, so much. I guess I would love to know how do you just move beyond whatever you feeling bad about? Say you said something to somebody you regret or you did something you regret having just let that go and move forward and start again? Hi, this is Stephanie from Vermont.


One of the things that I'm looking to develop is meditation practices around my self esteem in regards to productivity and time management. I think I have a whole lot of negative thoughts unconsciously going from like my brain, which makes me even less effective in tackling my procrastination techniques that I've perfected over the past fifty five years of my life. So anything in them would be interesting to me. Hi, my name is Kim. First, I want to thank you for the opportunity to submit questions and thoughts for the self-help series in January.


My question is how to give yourself self-love when you're not happy with what you've become. For me, that is gaining a lot of weight this year. So much weight, in fact, that I am don't have the confidence that I'll be able to get it off. So this, of course, for me triggers fear, resentment, negative self talk and of course, more eating. So I would be interested in hearing how to cultivate self-love. When you find it hard to even look in the mirror because you're not happy with what you've become.


Thank you again. And I look forward to seeing and hearing what you have to say in January.


But why does a great voicemail's I really appreciate you guys, the audience for being game to call in and. And. Let loose like that, it's a we value it immensely. Susan, let me start with you. I don't think it's going to take much to to see the trend there at all. All of them have to do with the inner critic. Rather than formulating a precise question what you would, what's your response after having heard all of that?


Yeah, my first response is just. Besides, I relate, it's just the heartbreak. I mean, it is just it's so painful to not like yourself and to think, oh, I'm going to look in the mirror, I'm going to see someone that's going to make me feel pain. It's just we can all relate to it. We can all totally relate to it. I certainly can. And it's it's just I just first want to acknowledge the excruciating.


Nature. Of just not liking yourself. And. Sometimes the first impulse is to try to debate yourself. Well, actually, you can do it or you're not that bad or or or to beat yourself up more should be harder on yourself. And both of those are weird forms of self aggression that are a kind of rejection. And it can be tempting to think, well, I should just embrace myself, even though I don't like these things. Well, that's also that's kind of sappy.


And there are things that we want to change about ourselves 100 percent. I teach meditation and writing retreats sometimes and often people come with such a circumstance. I'm struggling so deeply with this thing that's happening within me about how I don't like myself. So this may sound a little. I don't know, cheesy brie like what I have found helpful to suggest and to do myself is to sort of isolate this thing. I don't like how much I've gained weight.


I don't like my procrastination. I don't like feeling regret for something I did or said. If you have any interest in writing or have any sense of comfort with writing, you don't know when I was going to read this, you don't have to think I'm a good writer, a bad writer. That's irrelevant. But if you take this instance and write about it, but not from the first person. From the third person, she said this. She did that.


Then this happened to him. They went over here. In other words, just sort of take it out of me. I this is bad. How do I fix it and frame it from a little bit of a distance in the third person? Tell the story of what's going on with you as if you were writing it about someone else. There's something really powerful in that one step back from eye to her, or they are him that creates a kind of purview.


That includes. Softness. That is missing when you just own it from the first person perspective, I have found this very useful and I've seen people do it to good effect. That's one suggestion. And the main idea behind that suggestion is to do something, whether it's writing or something else, to get out of the fight with yourself. Like I'm going to beat myself up to be the person I want to be, whatever you can do. And sometimes writing about it is useful because no one's going to win that fight because it's you against you.


I like it.


Jeff, I want to bring you in on that and other techniques for dealing with the inner critic before I bring the you that's here in this interview.


And I want to bring in the other you from a clip of me and you chatting for the New Year's meditation challenge. So this is one of the clips you'll see if you sign up for the meditation challenge, which I hope you will. This is from day six. And this is me and Jeff talking about the inner critic. So we'll listen to this and then talk more to Jeff on the backside.


It's sort of like we have a mass self-harm epidemic happening out there, except it's all happening on the inside, so nobody knows it. So there should be pissers about this self-harm epidemic happening now. I mean, that's our inner critic.


You know, it's the if not the obvious voice that's sitting there criticizing you or criticizing the situation, then some more subtle begrudged feeling that kind of ends up filling up your experience. So it's for real.


And what do we do about it? I mean, how exactly, in your view is meditation useful here?


Well, what we do about it is first we notice that's happening. So we notice what the stories are that we've got going inside. You know, I'm wasting my time. You know, I can't believe that I got impatient. I hate myself for getting impatient. I hate myself for hating myself or getting impatient.


Like you start to tune in to whatever the story is and start to see the harm in it and start to notice the, in a sense, the violence in it. And that's the just that noticing in and of itself sometimes can cool it out. So that's for real. And it may not be enough. It may be that you want to do a more playful intervention. The inner critic often has a sort of one dimensional quality. It's sort of a caricature.


So I think you can kind of turn up the gain on that caricature quality by slightly sort of playfully making fun of your inner critic. I have an angry part of me that I just kind of call the cartoon Hulk. And just experiencing it like that changes the way I relate to it. I'm not kind of as inside it. The other thing you can kind of do is sort of playfully or lightly make fun of the critic as it's happening.


So I call this the Swedish chef move.


So as the voice is going on in there, I kind of start to imagine that it's sort of like the Swedish chef, kind of like a smaller, more keyboard keyboard, you know, or like the adult from Charlie Brown or every time an adult, which you never really see the adults, you just hear the voice.


I why, why, why, why? Just seeing it and begin to kind of being more playful around the presence of that voice can change the experience of it. And that's what you want. You want to kind of disarm it. You want to take the charge out of it. Yeah.


Under your tutelage, you and I took a bus trip across the country and you recommended I do this, that I get my inner critic a name. I thought it was a really dumb idea. Maybe that was my outer critic speaking and but I did it begrudgingly. And I named my inner critic after my curmudgeonly grandfather. And I have found it to be phenomenally helpful.


I love Jeff's idea of auto tuning your inner critic. That's awesome.


But let so let me go back into my semi facetious role of magically channeling the thoughts and desires of the audience, because as I think back to those voicemails, we got one woman regretting something she'd said, another really beating yourself up about procrastination and a third feeling badly about having gained some weight.


I suspect some of them might say, OK, I hear you, Piver, Warren Harris.


I got to stay with the feeling, stay with the feeling, be warm toward the feeling. But I also need to deal with the problem, you know, the apology to the person, the getting back on track with whatever project I'm working on, with getting myself healthier, et cetera, et cetera. So how can I engage in what you're saying? I'm sold. I should love myself a little bit more, but I don't want to slide into a puddle of sloppy resignation.


Jeff, what would you say to that? Well, I guess I would try to articulate the case for meditation, which is on the one hand, there's a way in which we just talked about working with the inner critic. That's a more active intervention. But then there's just the basics of sitting and learning to open and be with your experience and notice what's happening, your experience. And just that alone does something. It's like it kind of trickles out and it cools out the nervous system and it calms things and it creates more space for more intelligent, more creative, more appropriate responses.


So that to me is the answer you this is why meditation is so wildly helpful for so many people. It's that you don't have to know what the particular thing you need to do is in this particular situation. You practice to create space, to reset the looping mind. And then from that place you suddenly see the way to be to address this problem at work. A more Clear Channel for making some adjustment to this relationship or for saying this thing.


It's out of that space that these new sets of creative responses kind of emerge. So it really I mean, this has been my experience from practice that the more I have a place where I can kind of reset into that open, just seeing and being an awareness, the more when I go back to my life, I am just able to deal with whatever the issue is across the board.


Yes. To that. And I would add just based on my own experience, that I need to keep reapplying what I've learned in meditation to, you know, let's just take the. The productivity thing, because that's a huge issue for me. I'm trying to write a book and it's taking years and it's very hard and I can see myself getting into loops of, you know, you're never going to finish this. You're not doing a good job, et cetera, et cetera.


That storyline keeps coming up or the storyline around, you know, the thickening that happens to your body as you get older. And I've had lots of sort of toxic inner criticism around that just keeps coming up. No matter how many times in meditation, I arrive at a more Quantum's place. As soon as I leave the cushion, it comes back up in my day to day life.


And you just need to be ready over and over and over again to gently counteract your habitual storylines with, you know, a warm phrase with Autotuning, the voice of the critic, because it takes time to change these storylines.


You're trying to undo decades and decades of conditioning that's happening inside your own mind and then within that's been injected into you by the larger culture. And so you need kind of self compassion on top of the self compassion as you try to do this self compassion thing. Am I making any sense to either of you?


You're totally making sense. We all have these things, just as you're saying that we repeat and repeat and repeat, and they are culturally ingrained and it does take time and it doesn't just one thing I would add is that those changes don't seem to happen on the cushion.


We're all having the same experience on the cushion, whether it be meditating for one day or one decades. Just you see the incredible cascade of thoughts and think, how could this be helpful? But then when you look back, you see, I don't know how, but it was incredibly helpful in shifting the power of this. Supercritical inner voice and to do the things that we want to do, whether it's become healthier or complete a project or apologize to someone.


As we've been sort of talking about noticing the feelings of discomfort and shame and pain that you have is a really, really good starting point.


Even though it doesn't feel good, a sort of softening toward yourself gives you more self compassion also, as we've been talking about. But it doesn't seem to end there because self compassion is hugely important. It needs also some sense of confidence in yourself and an ability to be brave, to step out of your comfort zone and do the things that you want to do that you have been so far unable to do. So I found it interesting that meditation, in addition to cultivating self compassion, also seems to give a kind of inner fierceness, a sharpness, a willingness to take chances, a kind of confidence that I didn't necessarily expect from this very sweet practice.


And that confidence and sharpness and so on has made it easier for me usually to take chances or to. Change patterns or to confront the things I don't like. Well, just to say, your assertions there are backed by science and listeners will hear the aforementioned Chris Germar talk about this, the expert on self compassion. That study after study has shown that if you're looking to stick to long term goals, you're more likely to succeed if you have a self compassionate approach as opposed to an inner drill sergeant who's constantly self lacerating.


So this isn't just, you know, woo woo nonsense we're spouting, although we do have a lot of that, too. But but this happens to be backed by science.


I do want to as we vector toward the close here, I do want to talk about one more issue, one more block that many of us have towards self-love, which is that we can have this suspicion that somehow it's selfish. And Jeff and I talked about that during the meditation challenge. So I want to play a little clip of that. Here we go.


So line up the coping strategies, sort of like the medicine shelf, what is the stuff you can do when you're inside some intense discomfort and challenge? What are the kind of medicines that you can apply that you know are going to help you, that kind of that involve pulling away from some of that intensity and taking care of yourself? So it might mean watching a Netflix, it might mean your daily nature walk. It might mean laying on your living room floor and doing stretches or whatever it is that works for you should have you should know what those strategies are.


I mean, the tricky balance here, and I'm not telling you anything you don't know, is the line between sort of useful, caring indulgence and overindulgence that actually just makes everything work exactly. So well.


So I would say basically you have two roles inside you. If you really want to take care of yourself, you got to kind of activate both these sides of yourself. One is the caregiver. That's the part that knows when to withdraw from the intensity and kind of nurture and take care of yourself. And like you said, it can be it can end up leading to its own problems if it if that's all you do. But the other side is the warrior.


This is a part of you that I don't mean the warrior like bear down and gret kind of warrior. I mean the part that opens to your discomfort, the part that opens to the challenge and that you need to really balance the caregiver with the warrior. So what that looks like is sometimes instead of reaching for the Netflix or whatever your medicine is, sometimes you actually want to practice staying with that intensity, opening to it the warriors where you build capacity.


So I really think that taking care of yourself in hard times means being very explicit about both those sides of yourself and implementing both the kind of turn towards the intensity and the deliberately turn away strategies.


Well said, Jeff. And let me just add on to that, that, of course, this process is more art than science and sometimes you're going to get it wrong and that's cool. You just learn from that and start again.


I want to throw in one more listener voice mail here before we hear from Jeff and Susan one last time. And it's related to what Jeff was talking about. So here it is.


Thank you so much for doing this. My name is Andrea. I've often thought about the difference between self-love and selfishness in my life. Anything that you put yourself first or what we might call self love was considered not a good person. So my question is the difference between self-love and selfishness. Thank you. So, Susan, there seem to be two issues here, and I'll let you pick which one you want to tackle. There's the line between self-love and selfishness and the line between self-love and self-indulgence.


You can take one both dealer's choice.


Yeah, it's it's it's a tough one. It's a it's a tough one to elucidate. I think when it comes to self-love and selfishness, let's say we don't always know and there is no formula. Well, if I do these three things, it's selfish. And if I do those three things, it's self-love.


So it takes some experimentation and knowing that you're going to think you're doing one, but you might be doing the other and you'll figure it out, you'll find out. And I guess one tell for me when I notice that I am thinking about something that's really important to me, that I'm very concerned about, that I really need to happen or not happen.


When I have lost all sense of humor, I'm in the wrong place, I'm doing something selfish, I am bearing down on myself. I do. It's not good. It's not good. But when I'm considering these concerns from a place of self-love, there's more of a sense of sort of lightness. I don't mean light heartedness necessarily, but a sense of, oh, yeah, I can have a little sense of humor about myself or a lot of sense of humor about myself.


And I see how important this is to me and I care about that. But again, when I just get so grim that I can't even joke about myself, then I know I'm probably tipped over into the into the selfish part of the spectrum. Just to say before we get a final word from Jeff here, it is not uncommon this concern about selfishness and it is a hard line to draw sometimes, but. There's one sort of baseline truth you can keep your eye on here, which is, while it is imperative to want to be of service to other people, it is hard to really do that and an abiding way if you're a mess.


So it is worth taking care of yourself because in some ways this care, this is now here. I'm going to flag early. I'm getting I'm about to get super woo. But this capacity, we have to care. Or you can call it love. It's all the same thing, right, whether you're caring for yourself or other people, it's omnidirectional. Jeff, I love when you disagree with me, it feels like I'm a runner rounding third.


That's a baseball reference for your Canadian Canadian there.


Hopefully there's a hockey application. I just have to assume that.


Any final thoughts here? But, yeah, I mean, this is. Really important to recognize that for me, the most healthy response to suffering is care, and you don't care where that suffering is coming from. It comes from yourself. Oh, yeah. Care that comes from someone else. Oh, yeah, care. So it's not selfish to level the playing field to to just recognize that there's hurt and then there's the response to it. Having said that, life is a balancing act between balancing taking care of yourself and taking care of others.


And it's an active process is an active dynamic process. Sometimes like I'm in a place right now as a new parent where I'm spending much more energy towards taking care of others, taking care of my son, taking care of my family. That's how it needs to be. Sometimes I get a bit crispy because of that. But I had an earlier part of my life maybe where I got a little more being able to take care of myself and maybe that would come down the line.


So there is this dynamic, active balancing that happens. And I think that's just part of life, is everyone's got to kind of figure that out on their own. You're never going to you're going to get unbalanced at different times. And then you notice it happening because you have that principle of care and then you do the best you can to bolster up the resources on your side or bolster up the resources on someone else's side. And I mean, is there that is life.


And I don't think there's a perfect answer to it. There's just a living through it with intelligence and care and kindness. And that's what the practice helps with. Beautiful place to leave it. Let me just say in closing here that. I love both of you, and I'm very grateful that both of you are part of the family, so thank you. Thank you.


It's always so wonderful to connect with you. And great to know you, Jeff. I feel the same way. Big thanks to Susan and Jeff and thanks to everybody who submitted those excellent voicemails that we used in today's episode, you can hear even more from Jeff and Susan by joining the New Year meditation challenge today and putting into practice much of what you just heard. As a reminder, you can join this free challenge by downloading the 10 percent happier your app wherever you get your apps.


Or you can go to 10 percent dotcom, all one word spelled out 10 percent dot com. If you already have the app, just open it up and follow the instructions to join. And as I said at the top of the show, if you're not super tech savvy, we've got detailed instructions on how to download the app and sign up in the show, notes hearty.


Thank you to everybody who works so hard on this show all the time, and in particular on this episode. Samuel Johns is our senior producer, D.J. Cashmeres. Our producer Jules Dodson is our associate producer. Our sound designer is Matt Boynton from Ultraviolet Audio. Maria Wartell is our production coordinator. Hat tip, as always, to our colleagues who regularly weigh in on our content here. They include Ben Rubin, Nate Tobey, Jen Point and Liz Levin.


And, of course, another hat tip to my ABC News guys, Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohen. While I'm at it, I also want to thank a bunch of people from the 10 percent happier app who have been working really hard to make this podcast series. And then the challenge, a reality. They include Maggie Moran, Alison Bryant, Julia Wu, Kimberly McNish, Nico Johnson, Amy Brackenridge, Jessica Goldberg, Jade West and Matthew Hepburn. Joshua Berkowitz, Crystal Isaac.


Connor Donahue, Liz Woodwell, Kelly Castagnetti, Derek Haswell, Eva Breitenbach Rey Housemen Yang Oh Transgress. Liz Farmer, Victoria Kerry and Kalila Archer. Thanks again. Everybody will be back on Wednesday with a great episode.


We've got a Harvard psychologist who is an expert. One of the world's leading experts in self compassion is going to talk about the science based case for this often misunderstood skill. We'll see you then. Oh, by the way, Friday, Kurama. But coming up. Life is full of possibilities. You just need to know where to look now streaming on Disney plus is the movie critics are calling peak Pixar, Disney and Pixar. So is visually glorious and a joy to behold.


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