It’s finally finished! The final post for this series was published December 2013. I had hoped to get it compiled into an ebook sooner, but life had other plans. It’s here now, and I humbly offer it to you, kind and gentle reader, this amazing time capsule of wisdom and compassion. Just click here or on the image above to download the ebook. May your new year be one filled with the freedom of self-compassion.
Today’s post is an act of self-compassion, as it will be the final one in the series. When I first got the idea for this, I was going to call it the “Summer of Self-Compassion” because I thought it would be that small, that brief. But then so many of the women I asked to participate said “yes” that I decided to continue until I ran out. When the end got near, I briefly considered asking more women, because you all were appreciating and enjoying it so much, because we all were learning so much, getting so much out of it.
And yet, when I got still and quiet, asked myself what I really wanted, what to do next, the clear response was to finish, to create the ebook and move on to the next project. So today, I have spent the morning reading back through all the posts, soaking in all the wisdom there, feeling so full of love and gratitude for these women. My responses to the same set of questions I asked them are an act of gratitude, an offering, a contemplation of what I’ve learned. With self-compassion, I am honoring this experience and letting it go.
1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?
Self-compassion is to “suffer with” myself, to stay with an attitude of non-judgment and gentleness, to nurture and soothe myself. It’s the ability to be present no matter what arises, to not abandon myself. It means honoring my experience and truth: how I feel, what I need, my body, my desires, my longing, my hungers, my values, all I have and all that I wish for.
I define it as the continual willingness to soften to your own experience and allow it to be as it is. ~Susan Piver
It’s simply being kind to myself – meeting myself, whatever my emotional, physical or psychological state, with loving kindness. As simple, and difficult, as that! ~Marianne Elliott
From this series, from the brilliant and kind women who agreed to participate — I learned from them before this series and through it and expect to continue being a curious student of how they do it.
I learned from books, workshops, classes, retreats, podcasts, and videos by Tara Brach, Brene’ Brown, Pema Chödrön, Geneen Roth, and Anne Lamott.
I learned through practice, by staying open and being with what is true, being present for my experience as I meditate and move through yoga poses, as I show up and write day after day no matter what, as I have lived with and loved and even let go of my dogs.
From being in relationship with others, seeing how we generate suffering from a place of confusion and hurt, and also how we can love and heal each other, the power of kindness and acceptance and presence.
In a bigger sense, self-compassion practice for me is centered in awareness, mindfulness. This means showing up, being present, and staying open. It is about cultivating a sense of curiosity. For example, if someone says something, and I feel hurt or angry, I am curious about that, try to discover what triggered me and why, and what I need to be able to experience it and let it go, be with it without generating even more suffering.
At a more basic level, it means checking in with myself, seeing what I might need or want. For example, am I hungry? If so, what do I want to eat? It means checking in with my needs and desires, and responding when action is warranted. For example, if my feet are cold, I put on socks. That might sound dumb to someone who naturally responds that way, but for someone like me, someone who spent so many years denying myself, smashing myself to bits, that sort of care, awareness of a need that is met with a quick and appropriate response is something new, something I’m learning and have to practice.
I practice self-compassion moment by moment. It lies in how I receive myself and what I’m experiencing. I practice awareness of self-judgement and my inner dialogue. I practice softening, allowing, embracing. ~Rachel Cole
It’s a practice of softening towards myself, of connecting to my own heartfelt desire for my own well-being, and finding a source of gentle, sweet kindness towards myself – even when I’ve made a mistake. ~Marianne Elliott
More and more, I try to love the crap out of myself. ~Judy Clement Wall
I still struggle with trusting myself, having faith that what I want is allowed, okay, acceptable. I struggle with thinking it’s more important to please others, meet their expectations than to care for, to satisfy myself. I still need to learn to trust that I am worthy, that I don’t have to wait for permission have the life I want or earn the right to be here. I need to understand that I am loved, lovable no matter what. I struggle with self-criticism, being way too hard on myself. I still need to learn better strategies for self-soothing when I’m feeling overwhelmed, tender and raw.
I can get wildly impatient, judgmental and despairing when I feel like I’m not blooming fast enough, damn it! There is so much that I want to do, see, create, experience that I can be relentless in my self-demands – and I get mad when I can’t keep up! I can burn my energy out, fuelling myself with adrenalin and caffeine and fast, nutritionless food thinking that, at least for a time, it will help me get farther faster. Nope … I see this struggle as my journey to grow my self-compassion so that I can hold with love both my desires and my limitations. ~Jamie Ridler
I am very hard on myself about what it means to be successful in this world. And too often I don’t make self-care a priority. I know that as I continue to relax (as opposed to “trying”), self-compassion will naturally manifest. ~Susan Piver
What’s next: Self-Compassion, the ebook. And for Saturday’s on the blog? I am thinking of doing a Life Rehab Resources series, where I share various resources that have been useful to me, give you a sense of what they are and how they helped and how you can access them yourself.
P.S. Barb Markway, psychologist and author of the blog The Self-Compassion Project, as well as one of the wise women I interviewed for Self-Compassion Saturday, put together a post for Psychology Today using quotes from the series complete with links to each individual post, 25 Women Writers Share Their Best Self-Compassion Tips. It makes me so happy that more people will now have access to the rich wisdom available in this collection.
I first met Sherry Richert Belul in an online writing class, Telling True Stories with Laurie Wagner. In her profile picture, she was wearing a bright orange hat and feather boa, and the pieces that she wrote for class were sharp and sweet, beautiful and heartbreaking and true. After class was over, I kept bumping into her around the web, always loving our interactions. She is the brightest light, this one.
At some point, we became real friends. Sherry is the very best sort of friend, kind and generous, openhearted and full of joy. One of my favorite things she does for me is send me ninja poems where she records a short message using her phone, reads me a poem and says sweet things, and then she emails me the sound file. There is almost nothing better than a voice mail ninja poem love bomb from Sherry.
She even made it onto my vision board for 2013, in the most magical happy accident. I was selecting pictures, and cut out one from Taproot that I didn’t realize was her, was just a woman at a bright blue typewriter wearing a snazzy hat, an image illustrating an article about one of my favorite poets Maya Stein, a picture about which I said, “that hat looks suspiciously like one owned and worn by my good friend Sherry Richert Belul. If it’s not you, Sherry, please don’t tell me. The thought that it might be her/you, that she/you might represent the friendship and support of a collective of kindreds, of like-minded artists and warriors, of all those in my tribe, including all my kind and gentle readers, gives me so much joy.” She later commented and said “but it is me!” and I knew that I would somehow get to meet her in person this year, which I did — twice!
Sherry Richert Belul is an ordinary gal seeking poetry, color, spontaneity, and connection in everyday life. She and her company, Simply Celebrate, offer unique experiences through products, services, stories, adventures, and a community that helps people wake up to all the joy, spontaneity, color, and connection that is available in every moment. Her mission is to “Turn ordinary days into an extraordinary life!” and through her work, she “offers products and practices that help people celebrate ourselves, the people we love, and the shape of our lives — even when none of it looks the way we had imagined.” Her practice is celebrating the ordinary, unwanted, and unexpected. (And everything else that comes along). “Joy is a practice. What can you celebrate in this small moment of your extraordinary life?” I am so happy to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.
Self-compassion is that way we whisper, “Oh honey” to ourselves while we wrap Grandma’s frayed purple quilt a little tighter around our scared body. It’s the way we quickly take it back when we mistakenly say “you idiot” to ourselves. It’s what inspires us to ask for a re-do and murmur, “That’s okay; anyone could have made the same mistake.” Self-compassion is having the spinach-pineapple-mango smoothie instead of the cinnamon roll ‘cuz we know what really nourishes. It’s saying no even when our best friend pleads, because we are over-booked and over-committed and over the idea of thinking we need to sacrifice ourselves for someone else. It’s saying yes to the lime green nail polish, to that crazy notion, to his kiss, to the giddy risk. Self-compassion is the way we look in the mirror and wish the wrinkles weren’t there, but change our focus to how damned sparkly our eyes are. Self-compassion is having the patience to listen, listen, listen to that all-knowing Self deep inside of us — because there are no rules, pat answers, should-be’s, or this-is-how-it-is’s; there is just this moment, this is what’s calling to me. There is this collection of me’s inside of me, and the desire to help all of them feel safe and warm and vital. Self-compassion is that feeling of “I’m here with you, no matter what.” It’s letting ourselves love the rose and gold fingerless gloves, the smell of cotton yoga blankets, the sound of our son’s silly songs, and our own plump toes. Self-compassion is drawing the circle around us bigger and bigger and bigger, to accept it all: all the glitter, all the dance, all the mud, and all the mess.
I learned self-compassion from my cat Tiger, who used to try to jump to the high shelf and sometimes missed. She’d look at me, give a little sniff, wash her face, and walk away, tail held high. Next day, she’d try that jump again. Best I can tell, she didn’t beat up on herself for the fall. And she just kept attempting to go where her instinct told her to go.
I leaned self-compassion from my Grandmother, who had none. She’d shop for size 18 brown or gray shapeless dresses, all the while berating herself and her body. I always wished she’d buy herself something flowered, silky, or sexy.
I learned self-compassion from guy sitting outside his little house at college. While everyone else was boozing it up at frat parties, he had dragged a comfy armchair outside in the warm spring air and was reading “The Tao of Pooh.” He was all alone, but seemed to be about the happiest person I’d ever met.
I learned self-compassion from every honest soul I’ve ever met. From the seventy-year-old woman who wouldn’t let herself have even the smallest slice of cake for fear she’d get fat. From the sixth-grade girl who slumped her shoulders in sorrow. From the middle-aged professor in Indiana who set off in a brand new direction, despite his age and great fear. All the people who abandon themselves and don’t abandon themselves are my great teachers.
For the past 20 years I’ve been soaking up self-compassion tools and tricks from my spiritual teacher, Cheri Huber. Cheri starts with “There’s Nothing Wrong with You” and takes us on a journey to discovering absolutely everything that is right with us, which happens to be everything we are.
Like many of you, some of the go-to practices I use include yoga, meditation, dance, hot baths, hot sex, and hot tea. But here are a few favorite practices that aren’t so obvious:
Recording and listening: This is a practice I learned from Cheri Huber. Basically, you know how Squawky Polly is always yammering in your head about what you could’ve done better or how you should be or “what’s da matter with you?” Well, recording/listening (R/L) is the antidote to that. R/L is turning on a recorder and saying all the things we wish our best friend/lover/mother would have said to us. It’s our own voice using the words we know we love offering us the compassion and wisdom that exists always, always, always within us when we quiet enough to hear it. Because it is such an awesome tool, I’m hoping Jill might let me share a link to Cheri’s book, which outlines this practice.
Sending notes to strangers: It sounds counter-intuitive, but one of the biggest and fastest ways to offer myself compassion is to write a note to a stranger. I’ve launched several small projects in which I’ve asked folks to tell me if there are people in their lives who are going through a hard time and need a little kindness. I swear to you, as soon as I pick up the pen to write to these folks, I’m writing to myself. Yep, it is that crazy cosmic thing that happens when I just feel utterly connected energetically. So I am writing to someone’s mom who is depressed and hopeless because she broke her hip again. And while I am writing to her, I am absorbing all that love and compassion into my own bones. I feel it. Can’t explain it, but I know it.
Wearing clothes that make me feel like the me who wants out. Some folks might thing that clothing is kinda silly and shallow. But for me, it is a straight shot to self-compassion. There’s a part of me who wants to be alive and expressive in a certain way. Offering her the chance to wear artful clothes is like opening a portal to possibility and joy. It’s like one of my all-time favorite poems by Kaylin Haught, full of “yes, yes, yes.” For you it may not be clothing, but maybe it is the art on your walls or the music you listen to or your flower garden. It’s that invitation.
Allowing poetry to sooth and thrill. Speaking of poems (“yes, yes, yes”), learning poems by heart and living with poetry in my life are like insta-compassion. Poetry links my crazy bouncing ball of a spirit to all the other humans out there who are experiencing bliss or grief or confusion or depression. One poem I’ve learned by heart to say to myself whenever I am lost and sad is this Hafiz poem.
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?
For me, the answer to this question is buried within the question itself! In my own life, a lack of self-compassion often comes in the form of looking for what’s missing or what’s wrong. It slips in like this, “You need to earn more money. You need to lose a few pounds. You need to be more generous.” So at the risk of being confoundedly meta — I’d have to say that what I most need to learn and practice, moment by moment by moment is turning my attention away from any question of “what’s missing” and replace it with a focus on “what is.” The recording and listening practice I mentioned above is one of the best ways to do this: simply underscoring all the things I’m grateful for about myself and all the things I love about my life can usher in profound feelings of compassion.
This journey of self-compassion is most definitely a lifelong adventure. I feel INCREDIBLY lucky to be able to explore this with you, Jill, and with all these other amazing women writers, teachers, and artists.
P.S. Here’s a little story about self-compassion and this piece of writing. Ole Squawky Polly mind wants to tell me that this isn’t good enough. That I missed the mark. It wants me to feel bad about something. But what I know is that I tried my best to be present and to write what wanted to be written. I showed up, let life live through me, and now it is done. Self-compassion is turning away from that squawk-squawk and simply seeing what the next moment holds, which is … lunch. No reviews, no regrets, no what-ifs. Ahhhh.
- Visit her website
- Read her blog, Cherry Blossom Soup
- Sign up for her Simply Celebrate newsletter, (really, you should — she’s always cooking up some kind of magic)
- Follow her on Twitter
- Follow her on Facebook
Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Me. Yup, you heard that right — it’s my turn.
Marianne Elliott is a writer, human rights advocate, and yoga teacher. Trained as a human rights lawyer, Marianne worked in New Zealand, East Timor, and the Gaza Strip prior to her time in Afghanistan, where she served in the United Nations mission (2005-2007). Her memoir Zen Under Fire, tells the story of her work in Afghanistan and the toll that work took on her and her relationships.
Marianne writes and teaches on creating, developing and sustaining real change in personal life, work and the world. She created the 30 Days of Yoga online courses to help people establish and maintain home yoga practices to support them to do their good work in the world. At the holidays – more than ever – we need practices to keep peace with ourselves and others. Marianne created her Zen Peacekeeper Guide to the Holidays to help you find a calm, compassionate path through the holiday season.
I first discovered Marianne Elliott by way of Susannah Conway, at least I think that’s how it happened. It’s hard to tell for sure, because however first contact happened, it quickly became clear that many of the other bloggers, teachers, artists and healers whose work I follow have a connection with her in common. However it happened, I immediately was drawn to how she blends activism and practice, manifesting gentleness as power, showing that soft is strong.
I was lucky enough to meet her at World Domination Summit, to take a yoga class with her. Her energy is simultaneously calming and energizing. She may not be the first person who suggested the idea but she’s the first person I really heard and understood when she talked about the yogic principle of balancing your effort with ease, a concept that has helped me make and sustain an important shift. Along with Anna Guest-Jelley and my local teachers, Marianne has inspired me to enter yoga teacher training. I am so happy to share her perspective on self-compassion with you, kind and gentle reader.
It’s simply being kind to myself – meeting myself, whatever my emotional, physical or psychological state, with loving kindness. As simple, and difficult, as that!
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?
I think the first teacher to really speak to me, through her writing, about self-compassion was Pema Chödrön. I was in Afghanistan at the time and suffering a lot. It took reading Pema’s books to see how much of my suffering was being caused by my own harsh judgements of myself, and the mean commentary I had running in my own head.
My meditation teacher Peter Fernando helped me learn self-compassion both through his own kindness – towards me, himself and everyone else I watched him interact with – and through meditation practice.
Another wonderful teacher for me has been Sharon Salzberg who teaches loving kindness meditation and practice. I’ve recently had the gift of getting to know Sharon as a friend as well as a teacher and she really does embody the kindness she teaches.
Today, thanks to teachers like Peter and Sharon, I practice metta (or loving kindness) meditation regularly as way to cultivate compassion and loving kindness towards myself and others. Here is a link to a free recording of a metta mediation which I’d love to share with anyone who is interested in trying the practice.
3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?
It’s a practice of softening towards myself, of connecting to my own heartfelt desire for my own well-being, and finding a source of gentle, sweet kindness towards myself – even when I’ve made a mistake. Metta meditation has helped me cultivate the capacity for this, but it still doesn’t always come easily.
Here’s an example: let’s say I’ve just ‘messed up’ in some way. Maybe I made a mistake that caused another person some stress or inconvenience or pain. There is a learned tendency in me to be harsh with myself, and often I’ll feel that rough edge of judgement rushing up on a hot wave of shame.
My metta practice can help me pause, in the moment, and connect to a sweeter, gentler place in myself. I can find compassion for myself and extend a hand of friendship to myself, just as I might to someone else. Initially I found that the kind voice in my head sounded a lot like my teacher, Peter, but these days it sounds more and more like me – just a kinder, gentler me than the version that used to rule to roost inside my head!
Some days the mean voices are faster, louder and more insistent than my inner sweetheart (as another teacher of mine, Natalie Goldberg, likes to call it). I’m not sure this is because anything is missing from my practice of self-compassion, except perhaps consistency! It’s an ongoing process – to strengthen the voice of the inner sweetheart, being a kind friend to myself in my messiest or darkest moments. But I feel confident in the transformative power of the metta practice.
I am so grateful to Marianne, for these responses, but also for her presence in the world, awake and compassionate, alive with intention, and for her willingness to work towards easing suffering, in herself and in the world, to show up with an open heart. To find out more about Marianne, to connect with her:
Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Sherry Richert Belul.
I first discovered Lisa Field-Elliot’s blog and photography by way of Susannah Conway. I was instantly drawn in by her aesthetic, so beautiful, dreamy and deep, soft around the sharpest edges, elegant but raw. Reading her blog posts is like being visited by an oracle in a dream or going on a vision quest, a healing ritual, magic and medicine, a gentle and complete surrender to wisdom and grace delivered with such compassion.
Her vision is poetic but brave, facing the truth directly, going deep. She is “a witness, narrator, liaison, photographer, interpreter, whittler, language-miner, image facilitator, poet, and ally.” My regard for her only grew knowing she had a dog, loved and lost him, and then courageously entered into that relationship again with another beast destined to break her heart. I am so happy to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.
I believe self-compassion to mean truly honoring, and allowing for, our own suffering. To be with the hurts, the uncomfortable, the longings and the hungers, and to offer value and substance to these experiences. More than that, to go further and to respond, in kind, to what the self is really wanting and needing. To ask, and then to answer, without any payment in the form of shame or greed, guilt or assumed indulgence.
I believe this to mean allowing for the unpredictable nature of being human. It means being kind. It means allowing for plans to change, for the mountains to call, and for rest and retreat to be taken freely. It means beholding beauty as our birthright and our longings as legitimate. It means loving the self as much, or more, than the other.
For me, the embodiment of self-compassion has come through a lifetime of self-discovery, and validation from those that have come before. I was born porous and open, and with that constitution, came a sensitivity to simply living. When we struggle inside, we seek to know the way through. Along the way, I found the paths of yoga and Buddhism provided vivid maps and frameworks for what it means to be compassionate and to value self-care and inquiry. Teachers have shown up throughout my life in women’s groups and retreats, spiritual circles and in friendships. Poets like Kahil Gibran, Mary Oliver, Hafiz, Rumi and Ghalib have lit my path. Writers and healers like Tara Brach, Elizabeth Lesser, Pema Chödrön, and Martha Beck have made tremendous offerings toward my understanding, and valuing, of loving care for myself.
Mothering has, perhaps, had the greatest influence on my experience of self-compassion. The sheer abundance of responsibility implicit in the raising of children has brought me to my knees over and over again, pushed me to the edge of understanding my capacity to love and to lead, and simultaneously depleted and overflowed my reserves again and again. I had to learn to trust and care for myself, to model what it means to listen to my body, my heart, my instinct. Out of absolute necessity, mothering begs for self-compassion.
For me, self-compassion is an underlying theme in all that I do. I have had to learn to listen to my body’s requests for each day–for rest, for movement, for nutrition. Likewise, I have had to be tuned into my need for stimulus and inspiration, balanced with my need for silence and retreat, for nature and nurturing.
So, what does this look like? In short, it looks like flexibility. It looks like being willing to change plans if something doesn’t feel right. It looks like saying no to an opportunity if my body responds with a knot in my gut. It looks like taking the time to feed myself well, to exercise, to stare at walls when I am overwhelmed. It looks like PERMISSION to respond to whatever comes up inside of me, in the most gentle, kind, and loving way possible–as I would for my children, or anyone else that I love.
I still struggle with the question of whether or not I am giving enough of myself to the world. I struggle with the days that my body clearly begs for respite, and I know that there will be disappointment on the other side of my choice to care for myself, and I must choose carefully what will create the greatest cost and benefit. I also struggle with adapting my longings for a quiet, rhythmic existence to the anything-but existence of life in a family with active teenagers and a puppy! Sometimes, being compassionate is simply listening and acknowledging, even if the situation cannot be changed. It isn’t always doing, but rather allowing for what comes up–and this is what I am still learning.
I am so grateful to Lisa, for these responses, but also for being an example of feminine power, a particular blend of gentleness and courage, wisdom and compassion, soft but strong. To find out more about Lisa, to connect with her:
Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Marianne Elliott.
I first encountered Cigdem Kobu’s work by way of an amazing project she created in 2012, A Year With Myself. That fall, I did Reset. Revive. Restart., a collaboration between Cigdem and Sandi Amorim. I am excited in the years to come to take advantage of the support she offers women solopreneurs — she describes that work this way,
I help quiet-loving women solopreneurs build a unique online business with more ease and less stress so that they do their greatest work and earn a lot more doing what fulfills their hearts. I write, I teach, I design e-programs, build websites, connect people, and create peacefully supportive communities. And I teach other creative people (in plain English) how to do the same. I believe business is fun when it nourishes your heart first and that building a business is the best way for deep personal growth.
Everything Cigdem creates is infused with a particular tenderness and strength that is unique to her. She creates safe and supportive spaces where women are able to discover their own power, a fierce love energy that is so essentially feminine. So often, culture attempts to strip women of this power, to bind and restrict them, and Cigdem offers a way out, a “cease-fire,” freedom.
Cigdem is a writer, business advisor and teacher who pursues peaceful triumphs in life, work and art. She also runs the Progress Lounge, a peaceful business haven where she helps introverted women solopreneurs build a sustainable and joy-filled business that fits them like a glove. I am so happy to offer her perspective on self-compassion with you.
For me, self-compassion is keeping a caring, gentle eye on my most important needs and desires – big or small and inner or outer – and giving myself the permission to do more of what brings me ease and energy, and less of what drains me.
It’s been a long process. And it’s a work in progress. Along the way, my guides were people, books, experiences, journeys, and the lessons that come from recalling, untangling and understanding the past. My past, my family’s past and the past of the world we live in.
Perhaps, rediscovering and remembering over and over again that we’re all deeply connected and that compassion and self-compassion, and loving yourself and another or the Earth cannot be separated… Also, finding out that this nugget of truth is one that I must remind myself of day in day out.
(i) I focus on noticing.
I watch, I observe, and I lean into myself. Self-compassion cannot be thought apart from self-discovery and self-understanding. Everything I do whether related to personal or business growth is deeply connected with self-discovery and the deeper alignment that it makes possible. And for that, the first step for me has always been noticing.
(ii) I allow myself to spend as much quiet and alone time as I need to feel energized.
I’m a hard-core introvert, and if I don’t get my daily quiet and me-time, I can get really cranky – toward myself and others. So quiet solitude is what I MUST HAVE for self-compassion – first and foremost.
For me, and many introverted people, white space incites creativity, quiet is a source of energy, and solitude is rich with possibilities. I’ve learned to appreciate and safeguard all three and summon those qualities in every environment I craft for myself and my kind.
(iii) I encourage myself to say “no” when “yes” is not what my heart desires.
Saying “no” has always been one of the most difficult things for me. It took me very long time to learn to say “no” when I really don’t want to say “yes.” It’s still something I’m learning to get better at.
By nature and because of my upbringing, I hate conflicts and making people upset. Isn’t that true for so many of us women? So in my life, I’ve ended up saying “yes” to so many things even though my right answer was, in fact, a big “no.”
Now I’m a little better at saying no. But just a bit better 🙂
What I still have to learn is to say “no” the way my dear friend Tara Rodden Robinson says in The Reliability Manifesto: “When I speak my ‘no,’ I do so with love and courage. Therefore, I say ‘no,’ plainly, without squirming, apologizing, or making superfluous explanations.”
I think today I’m a little better at self-compassion for my inner self. But I still have space to grow in the way I give my compassion to my body and care for my physical being. Honestly, I suck at it these days.
I used to be better at it in the past. I love my business so much that it doesn’t feel like work at all. But this also causes me to forget to take enough breaks, and I sometimes get caught up in doing more, more, more.
I do a lot of writing and creating in front of the computer. And when I don’t take enough time to rest and move, this quickly starts affecting my physical health.
So I have to keep reminding myself that it’s OK to slow down, and that it’s OK to take slower and smaller steps toward my destination. My natural rhythm rocks. All I have to do is notice and remember. And also, stand up and move.
Like you always say, this is also about “practice, which means showing up again and again with an open heart.” 🙂
I am so grateful to Cigdem, for these responses, but also for her honesty about her own experience and her support of women as they make their offering to the world. To find out more about Cigdem, to connect with her:
Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Lisa Field-Elliot.
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.