So often we hear the term “Self-care” and we think of more things to do: take a bubble bath, get into nature, eat right, exercise… I know, I know, the list goes on. That’s why I love the idea of what we can do, not later, but right in the moment when the unpleasant feelings arise.
Some of you already know a little bit about the two day Self-Compassion training I took last week with Chris Germer and Kristin Neff. The ideas were not necessarily new to me, but the feelings these teachings grow inside are so palpable. I find that I can hear these messages over and over and never get bored of them.
The essential message is similar to the messages of almost every therapeutic orientation (at least the ones that I’ve been drawn to). It’s that while we are often ashamed of our “negative” feelings ~ the ones we may want to banish or cut ourselves off from ~ there is always an opportunity to make these feelings our allies instead, perhaps even very powerful ones!
They define compassion as a wish to alleviate suffering and they say it is made up of 3 elements:
1. Mindfulness ~ presence, willingness to “be with”, to “turn towards”.
2. Common humanity ~ the recognition that everyone is inherently imperfect, life is imperfect. (This turns our instinct to isolate into connection instead).
3. Kindness ~ a lovingness (rather than judgement) toward the feelings.
So? Did you have some resistance? Most people do! Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what your resistance looks like (ie. Concern that it’s selfish? Fear it will lead to “laziness” or “not-doing”?) and I will respond in my next newsletter.
One exercise we did that I really enjoyed was a writing one.
If you have a little time, give it a try!
It’s just 3 steps:
- Identify some “imperfections” about yourself that make you feel inadequate. Everyone has qualities or tendencies about themselves that they don’t like. It’s human to be imperfect. Just choose one thing. Then ask yourself: What are the emotions that come up around that? Just feel them as they are.
- Write a letter to yourself. Picture an unconditionally loving imaginary friend who can see all your strengths and weaknesses, including what you’ve identified in step 1. How are they feeling towards you? Tune into his or her kindness and wisdom, knowing that there are factors in your life (genes, family history, life events) that are out of your control. Write a letter to yourself from this friends’ perspective.Try to infuse the letter with their kindness, acceptance, care and well wishes.
- Feel the compassion. Read the letter and feel the words soothe and comfort your heart. Love and connection are yours. You are allowed to feel complete. Accept all of you.
Hope you enjoy practicing taking care of yourself in all the ways!