I don’t remember how I first found Sandi Amorim’s work. I do know that I immediately adored her. She is equal parts fierce and soft, someone who both challenges and comforts me. She was part of the A Year With Myself project that I took part in during 2012, started by Cigdem Kobu, and that fall, I did Reset. Revive. Restart., a collaboration between Cigdem and Sandi.
I got to meet Sandi when I went to World Domination Summit. The story of that initial connection is a bit of magic that I will keep with me always. On the first day, I went to a meet-up hosted by Farnoosh Brock. I was keeping my eye out for Sandi, because I knew she was supposed to be there too. In my pocket was a heart-shaped rock I’d found on the beach. When I found it, I thought to myself, “I’m going to take this and give it to Sandi.” What I didn’t know is that for years Sandi has been collecting heart-shaped rocks. So when I finally saw her, I went over, told her who I was, hugged her and sat next to her — and I mean next to her, even though we were meeting for the first time, I feel like I needed to be as close as possible, stopped just short of crawling into her lap — and handed her the rock.
She gave me the funniest look. At first I thought I had somehow offended her, done something wrong. She finally said, “How did you know I collected these?” I laughed, relieved that I hadn’t upset her, and said, “I didn’t. I just knew when I found it that I wanted to bring it to you.”
As a coach, Sandi is “An instigator. The spark to your flame. Ruthlessly compassionate. I’ll do whatever it takes to have you shine.” I am so happy to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.
Whenever I’m in doubt or curious about what a word actually means, I go straight to my dictionary – a nerdy habit I’ve had since childhood – and what often amazes me is how watered down or altered many words become over time.
com·pas·sion: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering
Brene Brown says, “Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart.” This quote made me realize that even though I’ve come a long way with self-compassion, it’s a practice that needs ongoing nurturing. I’m quick to do what I can to alleviate the suffering of others, but sometimes what I need for myself is completely hidden from my view.
My greatest challenge and learning from this practice is that self-care and compassion has to come first – not after I’ve taken care of others, or done my work for the day, etc. but as my first priority.
One of my first mentors said to me many years ago, “If you treated others the way you treat yourself, you’d have no friends.” I’ve never forgotten the truthful sting of his words, and it’s both haunted and guided me throughout my personal growth journey. Is it handled? No, but I’m more aware of it now than I’ve ever been. The tools I use to nurture this mindfulness include meditation, writing, photography, and silent retreats. Of all of them, it is silence which has been my greatest teacher on compassion, both for myself and others. There is nothing quite like being alone with yourself after a few days of silence. It is, for me, the space where self-compassion is most natural.
Another teacher has been my body, and it has been a patient and persistent teacher. The lesson was loud and clear – if I don’t listen the first time it communicates, it will keep sending more, increasingly intense messages. For most of my life I took my health and body for granted, so when it began sending the messages that something had to change, I paid no attention. The impact of this was huge, and it’s taken a major shift in self-care to restore my energy and well-being. It was a hard lesson to learn, but looking back I can appreciate it now as it woke me up to what was needed – that strong desire to alleviate suffering (in myself) from the definition above.
My dog Tarty has quickly become a new guide on this journey of self-compassion. She is unapologetic in putting her needs first, and in respecting her needs, I am learning to take care of my own.
After I turned 50, I began taking a daily self portrait to document what I call ‘the year of living 50’ and the experience has been profound. More than looking in a mirror, when I sit with an image of myself – some days dressed and ready to greet the world, other days bare-faced and bed-headed – I’m confronted by my own humanity and how harshly I’ve judged myself over the years. Being with myself in this way has been difficult – and exquisite. When I look in the mirror now after a few months of this practice, I see a woman worthy of love. A woman I love.
Some days I feel obsessed with the need to understand why this is such an ongoing struggle, not just for myself but for most women I know. The only way I know to understand is to keep moving forward myself, to keep peeling back the layers, and keep exposing the tender heart within. What’s missing? Patience. Always patience.
Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Cigdem Kobu.