What $20 taught me about self-compassion



Someone stole $20 from me yesterday.

Ok ok, I’m exaggerating.  Sort of.

Here’s the story…

I was at the grocery store yesterday picking up some organic lemons.  True to form, I was doing 17 different things at once: talking on the phone, writing an email, and mentally checking “buy lemons” off my To-Do list.  I decide to use self-checkout (it’s faster) and because of course, I’m in a rush.  I realize I need some cash, so I tell the computer I’d like $20 cash back, finish the transaction and leave with my groceries.  Easy peasy.

Hours later, I open my wallet and realize the money is gone.  No biggie, I’ll just go back to the store and tell them the cashier forgot to give me my cash back.  Luckily, I still have the receipt (yay me!).

But wait: I used SELF-checkout.

The money pops out of the little machine and you’re supposed to take it.

It likely won’t be there anymore.

And (of course) it wasn’t.

But here’s the thing…when the realization hit that the $20 was gone and it was entirely my fault, want to know what I thought?

That sucks.  Well, I hope the person who found it needed it more than me.  Better still, I hope finding it absolutely made that person’s day and that they even went so far as to post the following Facebook status update:


Do you see that? PROGRESS!

Normally, I would have been LIVID with myself for doing something as silly as leaving money in a self-checkout machine.  I would have chastised myself for not being present, doing too many things at once and for rushing.  I likely would have been mad at myself for even going back to the grocery store to check if the money was there, because how dumb could I be to think anyone would turn it in?

But I didn’t!  And man oh man, it felt soooooo good to not have any of those negative thoughts.  I felt compassion for myself by acknowledging that it sucked to lose the money and then a positive thought came rushing in that put a smile on my face.  Not to mention giggle a bit.

And that’s what self-compassion is all about.

You may not be able to stand in front of a mirror today and list off 5 things that you love about yourself, and that’s OK.  You’ll get there, I promise.   What IS important are these seemingly inconsequential events - losing $20, getting off at the wrong exit, letting the pot boil over – and the damage that the accompanying negative self-talk causes.    Remember that these moments have such a minor impact on your day/week/life in general.   If you can continually practice self-compassion in these types of trivial situations, you’ll soon find it becomes second nature, especially when faced with the BIG stuff.

So how about trying a pinch of loving kindness.   I bet you $20 that it’s better than the alternative!


In which types of situations do you notice your inner critic shows up? How do you tame the beast?