When I started out on this journey I misunderstood self-compassion. I couldn’t understand why I was being asked to show compassion to myself or why I even needed too. No, compassion is not what I showed myself it was what I showed to others, or so I thought for a long time. So let’s talk today about:
This thing called Self-Compassion.
Self-love, self- acceptance, self-compassion… what? I had lots of love, acceptance and compassion to give to everyone around me in my life. I didn’t see their “perceived” flaws as problems because I had compassion towards them. If someone made a mistake and apologized I was quick to forgive them, to move on and forget about it. If they were having a bad day I was quick to point out all the good things they weren’t seeing. We have this tendency to have a wide frame of focus in life when it’s all smooth sailing but as soon as something starts to hurt inside that lens shrinks real fast and pretty soon all we can see or feel is that pain or maybe we chose not to feel that pain and deflect our hurt to others around us. Friends and family are often very supportive in these situations helping to point out the good we are missing or putting us in our place for being out of line. But whatever happened to forgiving ourselves, to admitting when we make a mistake, accepting that we aren’t perfect or in all honesty don’t need to be perfect?
What I came to discover is that somewhere along the way a lot of us (YES, THIS IS ME I AM TALKING ABOUT) forgot how to show ourselves compassion. But how can we expect to grow and move forward in life without this? That is where I got a big hand to the forehead wake up call. If I was going to continue on my journey I had to re-adjust my understanding of compassion. We always hear the phrase “you have to take care of yourself first, before you can take care of others” but how many of us really do this? I don’t mean going and getting a massage or going to the gym alone because while these are GREAT for self care I am talking about really taking care of yourself: emotionally and physically.
Remember that red eyed venom spitting monster I had living in my head? I am talking about taking care of that. That monster thrives on negative self talk, guilt trips, violent conversations (that by the way usually never leave our heads) and judgments (of ourselves and all those around us that we are comparing ourselves to). Fortunately, there is a way we can start to kill off this monster and that is though self-compassion. The monster will fight back and it will fight hard, after all we have been feeding it pretty well for many years. But each time we say “no” to the negative self talk and the comparisons and instead find forgiveness for ourselves we begin to win the battle.
Instead of berating ourselves next time a pair of pants feels tighter or we don’t make it to the gym we can approach ourselves as we approach a friend who is having these feelings. Next time you find yourself starting up the negative self talk, stop, take a breath and remember compassion. Speak to yourself just like you would to a friend or family member. I believe that for a long time I was unable to show myself compassion because I thought in order to “keep myself in line” I needed to be tough on myself! If I was going to able to hold myself at the standards I set or reach the standards I wanted to meet (speaking directly to body image here) I had to “stay on top of myself.” The tougher the better! Problem was this didn’t (and doesn’t) actually work. It turns out that I am happier and healthier when I treat myself and my body with kindness instead of hate. Finding the middle ground between eating and exercising because I love my body not because I hate my body is a way easier place to occupy and when I fall too far to one side I pick myself back up with a compassionate word and gentle hand. I have, in fact found a new companion in myself…… and I like her much better than the monster I hosted before.
Thank you to the following people who continue to guide me through this journey:
Michael Young of www.Alighthealer.com
Lizette DuBay of www.Damzil.com
Dana and Hilary of www.BeNourished.org