Author Archives: Nanci Besser

About Nanci Besser

Nanci Besser, MA is an Emotional Intelligence Specialist, Author, Speaker and Mindfulness Teacher, with a passion for kindly aligning who you are with what you want to accomplish. She is certified in the art of Conflict Resolution and Mediation and teaches mindfulness via Pilates and Psychobiomechanics. She has trained over 1,000 private clients. Her heart belongs to philanthropic outreach to support US Veterans. Join her 32 Favors Project—help share kindness. Follow her on twitter at @NanciBesser. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

The Secret to a Blissful First Date

-Cue The Mood Music-

Toronto Psychologist Healthy RelaitonshipsClose your eyes and envision the following scene: It is the first date for you and your current crush. Tonight holds the possibility of transforming each of you into the other’s significant. The air around the two of you lingers with an intoxicating mixture of random scents (perfume, cologne and lots of perspiration), lofty expectations and dim lighting, that is to say; it is the ideal environment to see what is not there and miss what is present.

At this point in your budding relationship you probably know the crucial basics about one another: Human? –Check; Approximate age/height? –Check, check; Occupation? –Check; Absence or Presence on FBI’s Most Wanted? –Most Likely; Do you practice self-compassion in your life? ? -Uh, no…why on Earth would that matter?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

-Why We Should Do It-

Practicing self-compassion might be a strong indicator of the presence or absence of empathy in an individual. Empathy is the ability to see the world through the eyes of another person. Empathy is what we are all seeking from our relationship partner: the space to be who we are without judgment.

Doesn’t that sound alluring? The freedom to be who you are without fear…I know what you might be thinking: Sounds too good to be true. Guess what though? It is the singular truth when you are engaged in a relationship guided by self-compassion.

Take a mental “snapshot” of your life at this moment. Who are you? What are you doing? What makes you smile? What makes you, you? Can you embrace each part of you without hesitation? I am not encouraging you to blissfully deny what “is” but instead to accept what “is” and who you are without exception. Acceptance is not condoning behavior. It is you “being” without the need to be anything else.  Self-compassion encompasses gentleness of self via introspection, not judgment. It bids you to take a role guided by neutral observation rather than by critical analysis.

Now that you are an expert in all things self-compassion…ok, perhaps a pseudo-expert is more apropos… Regardless of your ranking, let’s explore the most important way to apply the principles of self-compassion to a first date experience.

-Psst, Don’t Defend-

Remember how I emphasized practicing self-compassion by being the observer rather than the critic? Use that same intention with your date. If he or she poses a tough question to you or offers an “offensive” comment in response to something you shared, pause before doing or saying anything. Draw upon the self-compassion you’ve been honing and extend compassion to your date.

The only reason we defend is if we feel we have been attacked. Do you really want to give your date the power to take away your peace of mind? I am not advocating quiet suffering, in fact, I suggest you being perfectly present and aware. No matter what, do not defend. You did nothing wrong.

Your date might not see it that way or might not agree with you, but you have options for how to respond. It is not your job to point out your date is wrong any more than it his or her job to judge or attack you.

If the “offense” was intentionally cruel, then choose an exit strategy that seems most in-line with who you are, but do not defend. Leave if you want, express your feelings are hurt if you choose, but do not defend. In my experience, these consciously cruel comments are rare, but do exist and do merit a response, but not a defense.

However, if your date is like the majority of people in the world and had a “slip” of the tongue unconsciously, due to first date jitters, foot-in-mouth syndrome or some other social awkwardness, do not defend and choose a response. You might employ a mixture of humor and sarcasm and quip, “I was not aware you had an evil twin.”

Unless your date is completely obtuse or a psychopath, he or she will realize you are upset and will most likely seek to remedy it. We all get nervous on first dates. We all want to make a good impression. Extending your date the chance to start-over by not responding with defense allows you to see who is really in front of you. Wouldn’t you want a second chance if you did the same as your date completely without intention?

-Play it Again…With Self-Compassion-

Revisiting our ideal first date scenario, Close your eyes once again and envision the following scene: It is the first date for you and your current crush. Tonight holds the possibility of transforming each of you into the other’s significant. The air around the two of you lingers with an intoxicating mixture of random scents (perfume, cologne and lots of perspiration), lofty expectations and dim lighting, that is to say; it is the ideal environment to see what is there and recognize what is present.

-Blissfully Ever After?-

The first question echoing from both of your lips simultaneously: “Do you practice self-compassion?” Nodding tacitly in union with one another, eyes locked and smiling, you both know tonight might be the beginning of your Blissfully Ever… Hold your horses; there is no hurry to experience bliss. Stay present and don’t defend. OK, back to the moment right after the pivotal question…

Upon your ideal partner’s affirmative response, you will be entering into a relationship with an ability to look at each other’s actions with empathy and without judgmental interpretation. We all make mistakes and we all want second chances and second dates.

Resisting the temptation to take offense or defend during the first date might not guarantee a second date, but it will facilitate a self-compassionate experience regardless of the outcome. Each moment of a self-compassionate first date brings you one moment closer to finding your lasting soulmate bliss.

Beyond a first date, what are other settings to practice extending the lessons of self- compassion?

By: Nanci Besser


How To Be Kinder To Your Loved Ones Without Saying A Word

toronto-psychotherapistHave you ever noticed how promoting kindness seems to be seasonal? The concepts of compassion and being kind are touted in abundance during the holidays. Why is kindness not heralded year-round? What if movies chose kindness as a theme regardless of it being “in season?” Or a more apropos question: When is kindness ever not in season? The answer: Never. This fact is especially true in relation to your family and loved ones.

Opportunities to cultivate kindness towards your loved ones are ever-present. And, believe it or not, you don’t have to say a single word to any of your loved ones in order to demonstrate being kinder.

-It Starts With You-

If you want to work on your relationships and on being kinder to others, first work on yourself. By working on yourself I mean dedicate time to get to know you and to reflect upon how you can be kind to yourself.  This inner moment frees you to let go of your judgments about yourself and fosters a willingness to extend kindness to others.

Sounds complicated, right? Well, it isn’t. It’s actually very simple.  Simplicity does not hold our attention. We give our rapt focus to complexity without pause. Complexity means change and simplicity equates with consistency.

Who of us desires consistency? Very few of us are comfortable without change, but do not to worry. There is a meaningful way to add consistency and therefore present moment awareness of being kind, to our daily lives.

-Lucky Number 7-

Here are 7 affirmations, ideally one for each day of the week, but be kind to yourself if you forget. Don’t mix-up the order though. Just start at the 1st and progress until you reach the 7th, regardless of the actual day of the week.

Consistent practice will lead you to apply this new healthy habit. You will only need a few minutes of dedicated time each day.  The purpose of these exercises is to quiet the chatter of judgment within your mind so as to bring the present moment into your focus, allowing you to see the possibility to be kind.

Our practice session initiates with you taking 3 deep breaths. On the next breath, your 4th inhale, close your eyes and repeat the affirmation of the day to yourself. Repeat this process 2 more times. By this time, you will have taken 6 total deep breaths. On your next breath, the 7th as you inhale visualize yourself being kind and compassionate from the center of your being.  Then, exhale out all feelings of judgment.

-Ask, Pause, And Listen-

How do you feel after this process? Does that feeling remain with you during the day? Do you feel more aware of the present moment? What is it like to carve out time just for you to be kind to you? These are just a few of the myriad of questions you may pose to yourself after your affirmations each day.

Whenever anything distressing arises throughout your day close your eyes for a moment and recall the day’s affirmation. Being kind to you and practicing the affirmations does not guarantee anything in your outside world will change. It may or may not. But, your internal world and your ability to experience inner peace will dramatically improve.

Being kind to you empowers you to face any hiccup in your life with kindness as your guide. You will see possibilities rather than limitations. You will be kinder towards others because your actions are guided by kindness. Without saying a word, those closest to you will recognize your intentions as kind. Like attracts like; love attracts love; kind attracts kind. Maybe being consistently kind really does pay-off… Let’s get started.

7 Affirmations For You Journeying Towards Being Kinder:

Monday: “Being kind is letting go of judgment.”
Tuesday: “Judgment is not kind.”
Wednesday: “I choose to be led by the gentle guide of kindness.”
Thursday: “Kindness is always an option I may choose.”
Friday: “Everyone is worthy of receiving kindness.”
Saturday: “Kindness demonstrates love.”
Sunday: “I choose to share kindness with everyone.”

-Timeless Journey-

There is no set timeframe for this practice. There is no urgency or hurry. Trust that you will know when you are ready and trust that you will be willing to demonstrate being kinder to anyone, in any circumstance.

One kind hint though: when you find comfort in the consistency of the practice, you are ready to let go of it and to move forward.

How do you share kindness with others? How does it differ from how you share kindness with you or does it? 

By: Nanci Besser


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