Finding self-compassion

There are moments in life where we have already applied all of the coping skills; we have acknowledged, validated, and attempted to soothe all the feelings, we have reached out to our network to hold us up – and we still feel miserable. After enacting all of these interventions on ourselves, we still feel underwater, in quicksand, beat down, worked up, unsettled and undone. 

When there is nothing else to do, we have to feel for and care for ourselves the way we would someone else. We have to have compassion and grace for our hurt feelings, tender spots, chipped shoulders, and angry angles. We have to forgive ourselves for our own humanness, our own mortality, flaws, and shortcomings. We have to have this self-compassion for ourselves because when we have tried everything else – there is only one thing left to do, accept ourselves and all that we are.

That place, the one that hurts even though we have tried everything to make it better, is where many of us are right now. Tapped out, spent, frenzied, panicked, and raw.  A place where there is nothing left to give and not enough to receive. It is time to pause the fixing – and in stopping our attempts to cope, we will be forced to be compassionate and kind to ourselves. Without intervening, we will be who we are in all of our raw, unpolished form. Finding self-compassion will be the only solution, and therefore the exact antidote.

It is alright for this to feel hard, especially for some of us, who have never paused the fixing obsession. Many of us will initially dismiss this concept as obvious or useless or both. That belief will persist until we try it and feel relief. And by try it, you have to try to provide yourself the same caring and compassion you would your friends and loved ones you care well for. That piece is important. If you don’t provide actual self compassion and care, you won’t feel relief.  

Oxford defines compassion as “sympathetic concern for the sufferings or misfortune of others.” In this time of recovery from a pandemic with more feelings and sensations than ever before, we have to spend some time accepting and caring for ourselves as beings that have suffered and had misfortune. These periods of self-compassion will lead to less and less suffering and misfortune.  

  1. Agree with yourself that in your humanity you have experienced suffering and misfortune.
  2. Acknowledge for yourself, these experiences might be flaws or missteps of yours, but they might also be no one’s fault, but rather just life.
  3. Explain to yourself that these experiences might turn into positives or even perfect and that the way you perceive them may drive the experience.
  4. Observe, learn, and replicate people around you who give themselves grace.
  5. If self-compassion is hard to find, keep breathing and reaching for it.  We are all born with it and learn to tamp it down.  It is in you.  It is inside you.  This is a practice in uncovering not creating.

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