Compassion and self-love, is it all woo-woo? with Eva Visser Plaza
In this interview, Laurie and Eva Visser Plaza discuss Compassion and self-love, is it all woo-woo? and how you can become more self-compassionate and joyful for yourself and for others.
Eva has been working as a holistic coach for over 10 years, helping women to uncover their true desires, design lives full of purpose and wellbeing, and live in a balanced and conscious way.
She founded Eva Authentic Living after her own experience of burnout and a subsequent cancer journey, which led her to truly transform how she views and lives life. Through her own recovery she experienced the benefits of different kinds of therapies, and she began to see how disconnected many women were from themselves.
After she was diagnosed with cancer she experienced a profound shift in her perspective and her work became deeply grounded in the combined elements of mind, body and soul to offer healing and connection for your entire being, and to discover your true feminine self.
Eva is a certified Rebalancing Bodywork Therapist, certified Stress Coach and certified Talent Management Assessment Practitioner since 2010, and has gone on to expand her learnings to include courses in trauma healing and shamanic practices. She has also completed many different masterclasses in the field of body-mind-soul connection to deepen her skills and knowledge.
This is a transcription of an Instagram live conversation. You can find the full video on Laurie’s IGTV tab on Instagram and on soon on YouTube.
I’m back today with Eva. She and I are going to be talking about self-compassion and self-love and is it all woo-woo. I hear people talking about it all the time, so we’re going to dig in and you’re going to find out what self-love and self-compassion can do for us. Is it really helpful? How does it work?
Thanks for joining me today for this conversation. I’d love for you to just do a quick introduction of yourself. If you don’t mind, tell us why you’re interested in this topic.
I am half Dutch and half Spanish. I’m living here in Amsterdam and I have two children and a coaching business since seven years. I call myself a holistic, intuitive coach.
I’m interested in the topic of self-compassion and self love. Since a year, I have been fully on compassion, self love, and other feminine policies, because I see that it’s really important.
My journey on all of this and awakening was in 2010. If people used to tell me about self love, I was like, “Why is that important?” I didn’t feel that that was important. I didn’t feel that my relationship with myself was important, which is kind of strange.
If you think about it, the first relationship you have is with yourself, but I was completely unaware. I think that a lot of people are not aware of it, because we don’t learn about it. We don’t learn about compassion. I haven’t learned about compassion at school. Did you?
No. Also learning about it in school and seeing it modeled right from the people that are in our environment doesn’t really happen.
In the spiritual world and in the spiritual field, people talk a lot about kindness. You have to be kind and you have to be positive. For example, a lot of people at the workplace think, “They have done something bad to me. So why should I be kind to them?”
This is a very childlike attitude. It’s, I’m just giving what I receive.
But being nice and kind also has an effect, because if you’re being kind and compassionate with yourself or with others, for some, it’s easier to start to do it for others, it just gives us nice sensations, besides being judgemental.
Instead of attacking other people or saying, he or she is wrong, or doesn’t do the right thing. What about being a little bit more understanding.
We’re all human. We are all want the same things.
Yeah. I love talking about what it does chemically to our body, when we are not in this place. There are some changes that are happening within our nervous system and chemically within our hormones.
But I’d love to just start by talking about how as women, as people, how did we get to this place where we think it’s all woo or something that’s not important.
I go to the gym, I work out, I try to eat healthy. You have the things that you try to do to take care of yourself and why is it that self-compassion and self-love has become such a weird, mysterious thing.
When you say that I’m thinking of it on a collective level, because it’s not just individual. It is for a lot of people.
I think that we just haven’t learned. If our caretakers, our parents, haven’t been compassionate with us and have focused on our performance, as in what we do with our body, wellbeing, work or relationships, needs better, bigger and more. Then there is no paradigm in compassion. We don’t think about compassion or love.
The other thing is that we are being brought up by our heads. When we are born, we are infants and we feel everything in our hearts.
When we get raised, it is more about what you can do. What can you do, what do you know? The school system is like that, everything in society is like that.
We lose touch with our hearts. We lose touch with this warmth, compassion, love and what we do.
We get out of touch with that. So what we say is, “Oh, but that’s actually a woo-woo,” because it’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to feel our hearts. It’s uncomfortable to feel love and compassion, because we are vulnerable.
People feel too vulnerable when we are kind or compassionate, and that’s what we want to protect.
What I see a lot in my clients is that they are protecting that. When I ask them if they can be compassionate with others, they think that it’s easier than being compassionate with themselves.
So basically, from what I’ve seen in my practice and in myself it’s actually very safe to not be compassionate.
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This question of vulnerability, I get it. I see it in my practise and I’ve experienced it myself, that vulnerability in relationships. How is that with a relationship with yourself?
I think that the moment that we grow up, our convictions about ourselves are stronger than how we feel about ourselves.
So the focus is outside and on other people and not so much on the inside, it’s very uncomfortable to look within, to look into your inner garden. Some people say that in itself already like yucky. So what we do is we say, “Oh, that’s woo-woo.” We don’t want to go there. Which is fine. It’s too uncomfortable. It’s very vulnerable. It’s yucky. It’s uncomfortable.
Compassion is not just, “Oh, let’s be kind.” You first have to navigate through hardship and to things that you don’t want to feel, which is uncomfortable. It is not like, “Oh, let me just be compassionate the whole day.” No. Compassion, real compassion comes from when you went through sadness and hardship.
For example, my biggest change in compassion was when I heard that I have cancer. When I heard it, I had to stay in a hospital. This was at four o’clock in the afternoon. In the evening I thought, “Wow, I’m a human being and I can die.”
I thought that I was invincible at 39 and never had any big illness like that. That really changed. It changed over those moments or when I became a mother.
When I gave birth, it grew a lot of compassion in me for others, but also for myself. But it doesn’t come from, “Oh, I’m so happy. I’m here at a barbecue. I’m at a wedding seeing people in love.” No, it came from when I felt hardship. That’s when I felt compassion.
You recognized what you were going through. I think sometimes we don’t even recognize that we’re going through a hard time.
I guess we are not aware of it at that moment. No, we realize it later.
But you were realizing it in the moment of those particular moments.
So what kind of difference does it make in our daily lives when we decide to bring in more self-love and compassion?
I think it makes all the difference. I don’t know if people are familiar with the terms, contract or expand the self, but instead of suffering and starting your day with, “Oh, I have to do this and this and this,” it comes from gratefulness.
I think compassion and gratefulness are very linked with each other. So it’s, “There is a new day. I can breathe. I have kids. Okay, now let’s get going.” But it’s a completely different sensation to start with ease. I’m also really talking about the small things and not talking about the big things. The little things, like smiling at other people when you cross the street, make a difference. It comes from kindness and compassion from, “Hey, I see you. You’re a human being, let’s enjoy life.”
We can also do that for our inner selves. We can do this for sure.
“Hello. I see you. You’re a human being. You might be going through something tough right now and that’s okay. We’re going to get through it. And I’m going to give you the space that you need, the time, and the support.”
Yeah. Instead of the inner critic, the drill sergeant, “Oh, you’re lazy. Oh, you’re not organized enough. Oh, you’re not a good enough mother. You’re not good enough.”
We tell ourselves that it is also there. Let’s be realistic that we also have that inner voice or persona in us that is slashing us and has helped, but it’s not really nice to hear that voice the whole time.
There is also this compassionate voice saying, “Hey, how are you doing?” It comes from a different space. I don’t know where, but it comes from a different space. It comes from the belly, or it comes from me. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s somewhere in our psyche or system.
I like this idea there. I mean, we do have both inner voices. It’s not like we can quiet one and never hear it again. It’ll pop back up.
How do we bring in more of the compassion and self-love, so that it’s driving us more often than the other voice?
Slowing down. I always ask myself and my clients, what is the best thing to start with?
It’s slowing down, slowing down and just stopping what we’re doing and just having tea, or just sitting quietly and just processing.
Then with the slowing down in five to seven minutes, I always use a breath technique.
I say, “Okay, slow down. Pay attention to your breathing. Pay attention to your feet,” because then you land more into your body.
In your body, there is a lot of ease and there is a lot of love. Not romantic love, because people think compassion, romance and love are about romantic love. It’s not that, it is ease and peacefulness.
From that place, then you can be kinder, because the nervous system is also getting in a calmer mode, in a different mode where the stress levels are lower and there is less anxiety.
So if you are anxious, you have an inner critic in your mind.
So I always tell people to slow down and pay attention to their breath. To put their feet on the ground and ground themselves.
Then when there is a little bit more clarity, you can start with compassionate and self-loving phrases that you have thought about before, as in this what I’m going to say to myself. It doesn’t have to be natural at the beginning. It is okay. What you just said is okay. Everything will be alright. Just take the first step.
Consider yourself as your best friend, how would you then take care of yourself? That way the conversation with yourself changes.
Yeah. Shifting, slowing down, bringing in more awareness. That can be hard, like you were saying before we could end up going to that place of, “Oh, self compassion, self love. It’s all woo-woo.”
We act this way, because we want to avoid it. So it’s also easier to avoid things when we are just rushing through. When we’re rushing through it all, we don’t have time to sit, feel, figure it out and figure out what our body wants and needs.
I also think we should listen to the other voices. We have the inner critic, but we also have what I like to call the inner mentor or the inner champion. There’s that inner champion, championing you along too. It’s there too, but sometimes we give more attention to the negative voices.
I always use the simplest form, because some people are developing it and they have never heard their inner mentor.
That’s why I always start with, “See if you can slow down.” Even if it wasn’t possible, like you said, we are rushing through things, maybe do it later. Then you can say, “Okay, you know what? I tried. That’s the start. I tried to do it differently.”
Compassion is not about having to change yourself. It’s about more acceptance of yourself and embracing yourself for who you are. There is no right way.
We can’t use compassion for, “Oh, then I have to be only loving.” No. Then you would still go to a place of suffering.
It’s going to look different for each. I’m always very hesitant to say that this is exactly how it is, because there is not only one truth. I can only share what has worked for me, what has worked for clients I work with, but there are so many other elements that are every individual. Every person knows what works best for him or her.
What kind of shifts do you see in your clients once they really start to get a better grasp of how to bring this into their lives?
It’s even in the moment from contraction, from tension to more relaxation and expansion immediately, there is a smile.
So as simple as that, there is more smiling. There is more joy. There is more ease. There is less stress. There’s more perspective. There’s more resilience. There’s more confidence.
But it all starts with a smile.
I love it. It’s so simple. We can all start there.
Yeah, exactly. It is simple.
It’s not about taking ourselves so seriously. Don’t take yourself so seriously, man. You’re part of a bigger world. Just be easy with yourself, because that’s also compassion. It’s joy being more joyful.
I love it. This has been such a good conversation, thank you Eva.
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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, manage, or treat disease or serious conditions. Always check with your doctor before making any changes. It’s important to consult a well-informed health practitioner for personal advice about your situation before relying on general information — we’re all wonderfully unique.
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Laurie Villarreal, FNLP, CHWC, FNS, LMC, CPT, RYT
Hi, I'm Laurie, a functional nutritionist and health coach, athlete, dog-mom, and biohacking adventure-lover. After having struggled for years to find lasting solutions for my own debilitating hormone-related symptoms, I created my online practice to begin helping other active, driven women get the support they need. I now help women around the world elevate their health, energy, business and life by optimizing their hormones with personalized nutrition and lifestyle tweaks. Together, we discover new tools and strategies that keep you showing up at your best so you can play even bigger in your life and work.
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