Each month of my blog has a different focus; October is all about learning to be self-compassionate.
But what does it mean to be self-compassionate?
Put simply, having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. It is about treating ourselves with the same kindness, caring and compassion we would show a good friend or even a perfect stranger. The bottle of wine & tub of Ben & Jerry’s you bring to your bestie after she has a fight with her boyfriend or the coffee you hand the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk in the middle of winter? That’s compassion. It is the act of noticing and being compelled to alleviate the suffering of another.
Now let’s say you miss a deadline at work, gain a few pounds or break up with your significant other, is your first thought to stop for a moment and tell yourself,
“this is really difficult right now”
“how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”
Most of us would skip straight to the part where we call ourselves degrading and hurtful names, berate our shortcomings and compare ourselves to other more seemingly “perfect” people. Sound familiar?
Self-compassion teaches us to be kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings.
Because honestly, who the heck says we have to be perfect all the time??? It is inevitable that I’m going to make mistakes, get frustrated, fall short of my ideals, get heartbroken, experience loss, become derailed…and the list goes on. Self-compassion involves being kind to ourselves at the very worst of times and rather than suppressing painful feelings, allowing the pain to flow and then calming ourselves with gentle words or soothing touch.
I finally began to see changes when I stopped being so fixated on the state of my skin and the severity of my acne. When I finally said: “F this! I can’t and WON’T live like this anymore.” The day I stopped waking up hoping my skin would miraculously become perfect again was the day I began to heal. I would look at myself in the mirror, let the feelings of sadness and anger wash over me and then give myself the compassion I deserved. I stopped fighting against my body and started to work with it. I’m not completely there yet, but I’ve come a long way and I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished.
My intention this week was to be open, to allow myself to be vulnerable and to not let the judgments of others affect me. And so, I would like to share with you some photos I took of my skin late last year and some from the present day.
October 1, 2012
October 1, 2013
I’m finally ready to put all my cards on the table and declare for all those who will listen: I am not perfect – far from it in fact. I am a work in progress and I am bound and determined to be the best version of myself I can be. I will make mistakes, I will slip and fall and I may have the odd acne breakout from time to time. But I will be gentle with myself, I promise to show myself kindness and I will learn to listen to my body rather than fight against it.
And that’s good enough for me.
What do you think about self-compassion? If you’ve practiced self-compassion, have you found it helpful? Why or why not?