Why (and how) I practiced self-compassion this morning
This is so ironic given that last week's blog talked about self-compassion and the sun. Because this morning, the opportunity arose to show you a practical and simple way that I use this. You see, this morning I woke up, getting ready for my day and realized it was Thursday! Yes, Thursday, the day I publish my blog posts. And guess what, I forgot to do that! I had that moment you may know well where your heart races, your breath catches and you feel a sort of sense of realized doom, that moment when you realize you messed up. After I used my familiar tools of self-compassion right in that moment, I realized I don't need to finish editing a post for today. I need to tell you what I did for myself in that moment.
First of all, I have to share that when I or my patients "slip up," the first thing I think or say is that "It's a slippery world." It is actually a little humorous to me that I was surprised I made this mistake. It is really more surprising that I have published a blog post every week since starting my blog. It was bound to happen. Life is slippery, I am human, this is what happens. That simple acknowledgment can be the way to start the conversation with yourself. When my kids were little and would trip, I would pick them up and say "Oh well, it's a "tripster" day." And I still think that for myself. This is definitely a "tripster" day!
But then I do what I always do for myself in that moment. I stop what I am doing, close my eyes (because that helps me go inward), and I touch my heart. I do that either with a single finger or my hand over my heart. Or sometimes, I even hug myself. Either way, I give myself some tenderness and nurturing that I need in that moment. And I tell myself, "You are only human. This is what humans do." Eventually, I also learn from that slip-up. Maybe it's a better reminder system or whatever is relevant to that one mistake. But in that moment, all I need is the acknowledgment that this happens to all of us, it is what connects us so tightly in this life. That we all make mistakes and that our imperfections are part of the fabric of who we are. Acceptance of that is a powerful thing.
I have found this extra step of touching my heart to be a critical one. When I added that to my self-compassion practice, it grew leaps and bounds. I found that when I did this, I could not ignore the fact that my heart needed tending to and that any self-degradation I was doing was only adding extra suffering to what had already happened.
Now this process of touching my heart, acknowledging my human-ness and accepting my mistakes can take moments as it did this morning because this was in the end, a minor slip-up. Or it can take much longer depending on the event at hand. That is the practice. Understanding that we just need to keep doing it until we get it. And that "getting it" will take different amounts of time for different things.
I will share that my husband is currently struggling through a mistake that feels much heavier to him than mine this morning. And I, just like him, would need more moments of self compassion to manage my soul's pain around it. The realization and practice are the same but the time it takes can be much longer. He explained to me how he didn't feel there was room for error in his situation, such as mine this morning. And I shared with him that realizing he was not a superhero was an important part of the practice. Although there are situations where we feel the stakes are higher, our human-ness is no less. We still strive for the best we can and have to accept where we fall at any given time. That is actually the superhero power in all this. Embracing our own vulnerability. I offer this because there is a continuum of difficulty of self-compassion and I admit my practice today was easier than his right now. That being said, there was a time in the past when I would have made this morning out to be a bigger deal. It is only through the continued practice of self-compassion (I, luckily, as a human, get LOTS of chances to practice!) that it has gotten easier at times.
Self-compassion is a true friend, it is always there to access.
I am so grateful for this tool, it means I have a friend there anytime I need her.
Remember that self-compassion can mean you still feel accountable to doing well. I will try harder to not forget my blog posts (Really, I will!) But it also means in this moment, I can spend the time taking care of the mistake or making a plan for it instead of berating myself for it. This does me no good.
Treat yourself as you would a dear friend.
Tend to yourself, accept yourself, allow yourself to feel the human-ness of what we do.