I am one of the searchers.
There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter. ~James Kavanaugh
There are some people that when you meet them for the first time, you feel like you’ve always known them. You are comfortable right away, love them immediately. For me, one of those people is Kerilyn Russo. When I was at World Domination Summit (WDS) last year, sitting with Rachel Cole during a break between sessions, this woman came up to greet Rachel. They clearly already knew each other, and Rachel turned to me and said, “you two need to meet, should know each other.”
But somehow I already knew Kerilyn. As Rachel introduced us, and I looked at that big smile and those dimples, a feeling overwhelmed me, a sense of “There you are! Where have you been? I’ve been waiting, looking for you!” I felt so happy, so relieved, like I might cry. It was the strangest, best thing. We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together that weekend, but I kept running into her, and every time I had that same feeling of “there you are!” and that sense of an immediate, easy connection.
Since then, Kerilyn and I have been able to stay in touch. We’ve Skyped in our bathrobes, talked on the phone about deep and important things, became pen pals (regular snail mail, just like we were 12 years old again). She is the best kind of friend, helping me to go deeper, asking the best kinds of questions, but also making me smile and laugh until my face hurts. I absolutely adore her. Her smile is one of the best things on earth.
Kerilyn describes herself this way, as a wife, friend, sister, and sensitive soul, (add to that mother-to-be, yay!). Interior Designer by day. Creator/Certified Life Coach of Married to a Chef, student of A Course in Miracles, lover of Reggae music, amateur Greeting Card Designer, novice photographer, Highly Sensitive Person, Searcher, and swimmer of the deep. You can read more about what she’d say about herself in her first post for Roots of She, Stand out: Meet Kerilyn Russo and see the power of stepping into your true role, or on her Who Am I? page on her website, Ancora Imparo, (which means “I am still learning” in Italian). I am so excited to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.
1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?
Self compassion, from where I stand TODAY… is the continual process of forgiving ourselves (and others) for what we THINK we/they did to us, them… and the world. We have forgotten who we REALLY are (UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE) and self compassion (or RADICAL self forgiveness) is a TOOL to remembering our TRUE state. When we unconditionally forgive and accept ourselves and those around us (much harder than we think, which is why it’s so hard to maintain a feeling of self compassion)… we are remembering who we REALLY are and in that, our divinity.
2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?
What an exciting question! I love this one! My view of self-compassion has evolved as I have evolved and if it’s okay with you, I am happy to share a little bit of how it has changed along the way.
As I began my spiritual (not religious) journey (hee hee, how many of us have said that?), I was eager and hungry to attempt to understand how the WORLD worked… what made it tick, underneath it all. The seen and the unseen. I soaked up books on energy, reincarnation, and spirit as a way of understanding what was happening TO ME in my life. Still at this point, it wasn’t about how I had a part to play in it… it was like I was sitting in a theater… watching the movie about how the world worked, without my awareness of how I am a full blown contributor to it. I was unconscious to how my thoughts and actions toward myself was a reflection of what I saw. I think my former organized religion conditioned beliefs about how it was out of my control still had it’s grip on me, and while I was aware there was more to this than just praying to God and going to church, I was still unknowing of how my participation had to do with what I saw in my life. HOW could I have self compassion at this point in my journey, when I still believed that the world was happening TO me, not because of me. The limiting beliefs that doing anything for myself was selfish and how dare I believe the world, still revolved around me. This was challenging because it didn’t sit right with me, but I forged on… STILL feeling like I was still missing something.
When The Secret and Abraham (Jerry & Esther Hicks) came my way. Blew the lid off of that I had nothing to do with my outcome. I heard “As you think, so shall you be.” And I was spiritually in shock for a while. WHAT? I have something to do with how my life looks? I am ultimately responsible?? As I got swept away in the loving current of this new philosophy… I was still quite unsure as to HOW to REMEMBER that it’s TOTALLY in my control. It starts with how I FEEL. How I feel includes feeling good about HOW I feel about myself and the predicaments I find myself in my life. When I remembered this, I felt wonderful and when I didn’t, I went back to that old thinking that it was outside of my control. (Those old beliefs really do have a hold on us… wouldn’t you agree?) STILL… I felt there was still something MORE to this. These beliefs filled me up, absolutely, but they didn’t answer the question about WHY the world (and still myself) were constantly in conflict, so I kept searching…
Kerilyn’s sweet kitty, Pez
Not too long after that, I found A Course in Miracles and all my questions have since been answered (even in my resistance of them). As I became a serious student of the Course, I began to learn that there are NO answers outside of myself. “Seek Not outside yourself” is still one of the most powerful messages of the Course for me. It is ALL about me. The OPPOSITE of what I’ve been taught at an earlier part of my journey. It is ALL about my perceptions of what I see, my projections of my OWN inner thoughts and feelings, is what I see in my experience, the role RADICAL forgiveness plays and the process of UN-learning we all must do to heal ourselves, and experience TRUE love, which the Course says is all there is.
Based on the Courses teachings, we have not been taught love, but attack. The ego (the part of us that wants us to believe we’re separate from everyone and everything else) has us brainwashed with thoughts of self hatred to keep us believing we’re separate from everyone else. SPECIAL. Attack with everyone we see (whether we’re aware of it or not) and everything we think… that includes our thoughts about ourselves.
NO WONDER we cannot sustain self compassion for long, we’ve been believing that we are not worth UNITY with anyone or anything, including ourselves. It’s this belief that keeps us in that feast or famine vicious cycle. *Secret: To keep us believing we’re separate, the ego has to give us good experiences (FEAST) to keep the pendulum of duality (GOOD AND BAD) in motion.
That is where you will find me. In the process of UN-learning those old messages, infusing them with a practice of RADICAL Forgiveness that even I cannot even fully grasp at this time, facing my resistance and regularly in forgiveness when I attack my brothers, and more importantly, myself.
Picture by Kerilyn, taken in Savannah, GA
3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?
Self compassion (or what I call RADICAL forgiveness) is just that… a practice. It’s a TOOL. I pick it up and use it when I need remember that have a CHOICE to make… continue to feel yucky, continue to not understand, continue to believe in my victimization OR to live from another way of being. It’s totally up to me. Maybe one day I have to pick it up a handful of times, and maybe other days I have to CONSTANTLY be picking it up, hundreds of times a day. To ask myself, “Do I want to be RIGHT, or do I want to be HAPPY?” Challenging those beliefs of separation and lack and remembering my natural state of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. At this point in our evolution, we are not able to LIVE in that state of radical forgiveness (which is okay) but for me, I know it’s at my fingertips… whenever I REALLY want to understand why I am feeling, the way I’m feeling. *Oh, and If I don’t REALLY want to understand, that’s okay too… I’ll want to forgive myself for not wanting to understand and keep on moving forward. Again, it’s a CONTINUAL practice of forgiveness.
Oh, and how do I practice self compassion? Easy. I am constantly forgiving myself. Forgiving myself when I judge another to be wrong, when I judge myself as less than… and judge the world for what I see as “bad”. Practicing self compassion is saying “I forgive myself, for I know not what I see/do.” over and over again.
Why don’t you try it now… Forgive yourself for something you THINK you or someone else did today. Forgive them or yourself in your MIND. That’s all. No need for an outwardly expression of forgiveness. Go inside and FORGIVE. *And if you find it too hard to forgive… that’s okay… forgive yourself for not being able to forgive. Let yourself or someone else off the hook today.
4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?
Oh my goodness… What do I still need to learn? That my shift in perception (from conflict to peace) is a reflection of how often I practice. Practice a little, get little results. Let this philosophy fold into my day and I am able to be happier, more at peace. It’s about CONSTANTLY practicing. Why don’t I constantly practice? Because I think I’m here in this world, this dream, ALONE. That I can “do it” myself. I need to learn that I am not and CANNOT do anything alone. (Remember the EGO has done a doosy on us, having us think we’re SEPARATE and therefore ALONE.)
I struggle with my resistance to really KNOWING this information to be true. We have been brainwashed a LONG time.. and I still have quite a bit of resistance toward unlearning. There are days when I want to seek for my specialness.. where I would rather be RIGHT than happy… where I feel where I have been wronged… and in that awareness I need to remember that I can always choose differently.. whenever I am ready to. The option is ALWAYS there for me, it’s a matter of my little willingness.
I am so grateful for Kerilyn, for her responses, (especially what she had to say about forgiveness), for her support and friendship and wisdom, her constant effort and curiosity and sense of humor, her big heart and big smile. To find out more about Kerilyn, to connect with her:
Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Rachel Cole.
P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.