Today we have a special treat! We are celebrating my pal Mike Robbin’s brand new book: Nothing Changes Until You Do: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way. I have known Mike for many years and have always admired his ability to be vulnerable + real and do his soul work. I’m so honored to know him and appreciate his powerful + compassionate voice in the world. Enjoy this interview!
Tell us about your new book, Nothing Changes Until You Do:
I’m really excited about this new book- my first in 5 years! This book is about what I believe is the most important human relationship we have – the one with ourselves. Sadly, many of us don’t have a very healthy, empowering, or positive relationship with ourselves – and we spend a lot of time thinking that our value is based upon what we do, how we look, what people think about us, the status of our relationships, our outward accomplishments, and more. None of this is true. In Nothing Changes Until You Do I share stories, insights, and lessons about how we can have more compassion for ourselves, accept our lives as they are, and take responsibility for making healthy and positive changes.
How did this book evolve? And was it hard to share so much of yourself in it?
This book came about over the course of a number of years. I wrote my first book, Focus on the Good Stuff, in 2007 and my second book, Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken, in 2009, but took some time in between my second book and this new book for a variety of reasons. There have been some big ups and downs in my life in the past 5 years, we went through some challenging financial times, including doing a short sale on our house, my mom died of lung cancer a few years ago, and my wife and I had two miscarriages – all of which were very painful and difficult experiences, yet they taught me a great deal. We eventually got ourselves out of debt, figured some things out about parenting and marriage, and my business really took off in a wonderful way. In addition to all of the external highs and lows, I feel like my own sense of myself and my own growth has deepened and evolved a great deal…in addition to my awareness of others and what lots of people are going through.
At the end of the day, I think that the most important and challenging human relationship we have is the one with ourselves…and this is what the book is all about…making peace with ourselves. I shared so much of my own experience and so many vulnerable stories because that’s just how I roll in life. I also believe that we often teach best what we need to learn and my approach with this book (and most of my work) is to share my process in a real way, with the intention of both touching and teaching others in the process. It does feel a bit scary to open myself up like this, but it is also liberating and it is, what I believe, is the best way for me to connect with others in a way that can make a difference for them.
The subtitle of Nothing Changes Until You Do is “A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way.” Do you think we’re the biggest obstacle to our own growth and success?
Most often, yes! Much of what we do in life is fairly easy, it’s dealing with ourselves that is often the hardest part. When we’re able to treat ourselves with kindness, love, and respect, we set ourselves up for true success. When we look outside of ourselves for success, we always fail or at least fall short, regardless of the circumstances or situations around us. The more able we are to make peace with ourselves, let go of limited thinking and negative behavior towards ourselves, and embrace our own beauty, power, and strength, the more life can flow with ease and abundance. Although this is a fairly simple concept that many of us understand…it’s not always easy for us to remember and practice in our daily lives. However, when we do remember, practice, and embody self-compassion, our life tends to flourish.
How do you describe self-compassion?
Self-compassion is made up of three primary components:
1. Awareness – we have to be aware of how we are thinking about, talking about, relating to, and feeling about ourselves.
2. Kindness – a sense of being kind, forgiving, and loving towards ourselves – regardless of the circumstances, outcomes, or situations we are experiencing.
3. Common humanity – remembering that we are not alone, we’re part of the human family, and whatever pain, challenge, or difficulty we might be facing or experiencing – we have shared emotional experiences with the rest of humanity
What are the benefits of self-compassion?
The benefits of self-compassion are huge. When we’re compassionate with ourselves, we cut ourselves some slack, give ourselves a break, and let go of the erroneous and damaging perfection demands we often place upon ourselves. This allows us to let go of unnecessary pressure, stress, and negativity. Self-compassion also gives us space to make mistakes, be vulnerable, and ask for (and receive) support from others. It is a much more peaceful and healthy way to relate to ourselves and life. And, maybe most important of all, when we are compassionate with ourselves, we have the ability to have authentic compassion for others. As the saying goes, “We don’t see other people as they are; we see them as we are.
In chapter 17, you say “Imagine what our lives, our careers, our relationships would look like if we stopped blaming our experience on other people or external circumstances.” You suggest we take 100 percent responsibility for our experience…how can we do this when we are so impacted by external circumstances. Any quick tips for doing this?
This is another thing in life that is simple to understand, but not always easy to practice.
One way I like to remind myself about taking responsibility for everything that shows up in my life, is to change the word “to” to the word “for” in the question, “Why is this happening TO me?” which we often ask in our heads when things aren’t going the way we want them to. Asking “Why is this happening FOR me?” changes the entire context of how we are relating to life.