“Today I began to criticize myself and look at myself with a judgmental eye… but then instead of going all out in that direction, I stopped and I began to understand me. And then I began to be patient with me. And then I began to feel a softness in the middle of my chest. So then I concluded that I can understand and be patient with me, just like how I am always understanding and being patient with everyone else. Why? Because I deserve that, and more.”
~ C. JoyBell C.
Recently I was able to participate in two online courses about self-compassion. Even though I felt that I had made great strides in this area, when both of these courses almost simultaneously hit my Inbox, I thought I would explore this topic a bit more.
Surprisingly at first, I encountered all sorts of resistance within. But this only confirmed, I needed more work on self-compassion, and I knew I was going to learn more about this very important topic. As the above quote says we deserve understanding, patience and above all else love. And not from outside ourselves….no we must seek that love inside first.
In life we all face circumstances that are difficult to handle…challenges like the death or illness of a loved one….pressures at work or of losing a job. Busy schedules where we try to juggle more than is humanly possible. And with these trials, we also find failure. All of these can seem to happen at once until we fall into a heap thinking we can’t handle much more.
And what I have discovered in these impossible moments, is that I need to turn inward, and tap into my hidden reserves. What powers these reserves, and allows us to survive? Quite simply it is love. Not just love from others, but love of ourselves….really the most important gift we can give to ourselves and others. For when we love ourselves, the tribulations of life can seem to melt away, and our capacity to love others increases tenfold.
One of the most important things we can do when building our self-compassion, is to identify the barriers to love we have created. For me the need for perfection used to bog me down. Starting from childhood, and on into my adult life, I would berate myself for making, what I viewed as, stupid errors. I have had a long history of putting myself down that was perpetuated by some well meaning adults and teachers who continually pointed out my mistakes.
Changing an answer on a final that resulted in a grade of 98 instead of 100% would put me in a tailspin where I would call myself ‘stupid’, say ‘how I knew better’…’what was wrong with me’…and causing me to obsess on this mistake for months. Nothing was acceptable to me but perfection.
And there were other thoughts and emotions that built up barriers causing more negative talk. The list can be endless: resistance, worry, fear, self-doubt, procrastination and frustration to name a few that have plagued me. I have worked hard over the past 5 years or so to break through these self-imposed barriers.
What did I do? It really is quite simple, and a bit brave, if I say so myself. I recognize these moments where I engage in negative self-talk, and I stay in the moment with them….I feel them, where they reside in my body, and then I give myself a bit of self-love. I tell myself, out loud usually, ‘I am doing the best that I can in this moment’. Then I recognize that indeed I am doing my best….and I let go of the emotions tying me down.
Sometimes when I would rush and drop things or make a mess, I would look at why this was happening….and again this would require me to stop, focus and be in the moment. It became easily apparent, that I was rushing because of time constraints or wanting to finish…. so I would tell myself to take it slow and be in the moment more. And when I slowed, and focused, I would enjoy the task.
Each time I focused and stayed in the moment I sensed an easing of these negative emotions and self-talk. There are many practices to help with this process, and I have learned some new techniques, from the courses I took recently. I highly recommend Open Your Heart To You from Sandra@Always Well Within, and Self-Compassion taught by Kristin Neff & Brené Brown@Courageworks. Check these courses out to see when they will be offered again.
We can easily turn our self-doubt around, and embrace our own inner love. We just have to have a little courage to stay in the moment, and break through any barriers we have encased around our own hearts. And you can start by smiling at yourself a bit more, and realizing that you deserve love too. Speak to yourself as you would a good friend…..you wouldn’t berate them, right? Give yourself a few words of encouragement by being your own best friend…..you will be amazed at what that self-compassion can do for you!
How do you give yourself the love and compassion you need and deserve?
Special Note: The pictures here are of different purple irises that bloomed in my garden this spring. In the Language of Flowers, they symbolize ‘Compliments to you’. I can’t think of a better way to express self-compassion.
I leave you with a few additional words self-compassion. I welcome you to download this photo and share it.
All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016. Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.