One simple thing transformed my self compassion practice
You hear the practice of self-compassion talked about all over now. Much much more than I remember in years before. And for good reason. Self-compassion, self-love, acceptance, whatever you want to call it, is a crucial piece of joyful living. If you ever stop, really stop, to listen to all the thoughts in your head, you will see that the majority are self-critical. A study I read found that 80% of our thoughts in the day are actually negative. Wow! That's a whole lot of balancing with self love we need to do.
That's where self- compassion comes in. The art of being gentle with ourselves is crucial, and I mean absolutely crucial to feeling good. Think about it, how can you feel good when you treat yourself like crap all day? Now, before I let you in on the one simple thing you can do, let's get on the same page about self-compassion.
Self-compassion is not about letting yourself off the hook. I repeat, self compassion is not taking the easy way out. Too often, people confuse self-compassion as something they cannot do because they want to have accountability in their lives. Accountability to a new food or exercise habit, accountability to a level of performance at work, and so on. I challenge you to find any definition in any dictionary of accountability that includes the word shame in it. You do not have to shame yourself or treat yourself like a doormat to still stay accountable to yourself.
Self-compassion and accountability can co-exist.
Self-compassion is about accepting the humanness of yourself. Self-compassion is about forgiving yourself and trying to do better if you want to, next time. Self-compassion is about understanding that anytime we are sad or disappointed with something we have done, we are sharing a suffering that is universal for all humans and by acknowledging our imperfections, we recognize that our flaws are actually the light filled angles of our perfection....Ok, are we on the same page? Self-compassion is being gentle with yourself as you may also be striving for a different outcome the next time. Or being gentle with yourself as you accept the outcome that is before you.
Simple, right? Not so simple to do. Self-compassion takes practice and practice. It takes using gentle language, it takes acceptance, it take vigilant recognition of the endless recording of our critical voice. You can do all that, I bet you already do and if not, I know you are fully capable. All humans are.
But one day, my self-compassion game attained a whole different level when I added one simple gesture to my practice. While I gave myself gentle nurturing reassurance of my imperfect perfection, I also put a finger on my heart. That's right, I gave myself physical touch with my words.
I had read this suggestion somewhere, I cannot remember for the life of me where so I am not sure who to give credit to but for now, let's just say that the universe gave me this lesson.
Add in some form of physical touch and the self-compassion takes on a new level of comfort. At times I touch my heart with a finger, sometimes with my whole hand. Or I wrap my hands around either arm in a self-hug. In some way, I give myself what I need, love and the reminder that I am loved and held by far more than even my love. I am held by this life, this universe. And that simple touch gives me far more comforting care than just my words. Think about it. When someone you love holds you, you feel safe. Why not give yourself that same care when you need it the most? Be your best friend.
I am so grateful that I learned this simple addition to my practice. The simple addition of physical touch reminds me I am loved, reminds me of this physical moment by putting myself back in my physical body.
Next time, you hear your critical voice, stop and listen and reframe...
Change the words to a gentler voice, one that gives you the respect you deserve.
Place a finger or hand on your heart to remind yourself you are loved and you are human.
And breathe in that kinder voice, that loving touch until you believe you are worth more than those negative thoughts.
And if you want to try for a different outcome, you can stay accountable to that without shame.