Thursday, January 30, 2014

Self-compassion: a starting point

Asked to contemplate self-compassion, I found myself at a loss. I suspect the reasons for this are not dissimilar to those preventing me from embracing self-love wholeheartedly i.e. my definition of self-compassion sucks about as much as my definition of self-love.

I'd be the first person to encourage someone else to stop dumping on themselves, reminding them of their splendidly flawed humanity, inviting them to have compassion for their stumblings.

But when it comes to practicing what I preach...

I am so hard on myself. I often distrust myself. My instinct is to plan for catastrophe.

And then I tend to follow up these bouts of anxiety with an extra dose of being hard on myself, because I should be better/stronger/smarter.

I am intelligent gal. I know, rationally, this vicious circle is not helpful. It certainly hasn't worked for me -- changed anything for the better -- up until now.

I adore graphic novels and one of my favourite reads last year was Katie Green's Lighter than my Shadow. For me, the pivotal moment came during a discussion between the main protagonist and her therapist, as follows:

"When you were anorexic, did people say 'Why don't you just eat'?"

"Yeah. I hated that. It's about the worst thing you can say."

"So when you ask yourself 'Why can't I just stop bingeing?'... is that not the same question?"

"I guess it is."


"I guess if all it took as the will power to snap out of it... or beating myself up, feeling guilty and disgusting... I would have stopped already. Willpower, guilt trips, punishment... I need to try something different."

Although my struggle is different, reading this was like a watershed moment for me. I saw that my relationship to self-compassion could be summed up thus:  "I'll stop giving myself a hard time as soon as I quit that stupid habit of dumping on myself."

2014 really needs to be the year of trying something different.

Perhaps I should get a t-shirt printed (or a tattoo) that says: SELF-COMPASSION NOW.

Because if not now, then when? Judging by my track record, my deeply ingrained mission statement, never.

But "never" has never felt so unsustainable. And I guess that's a start.

Actually, probably quite a good one.

I am responding here to the nineteenth prompt from #reverb13. You are warmly invited to share your own response below, if you did not have the opportunity to do so in December. Thank you for sharing the journey with me. x

1 comment:

  1. I think self compassion is much the same thing as self acceptance which is much the same thing as examining the expectations you have for yourself and whether they are worthy. x