In life, we often stumble, fall, and mess up. This is what it means to be human. Unfortunately, however, for many of us, we learn that falling is weakness and making a mistake is shameful. These social labels or “standards” make it very difficult for people to embrace their humanness. What happens to your human spirit when you cannot make a mistake for fear of humiliation? What happens to your self-worth when you cannot get things wrong for fear of failure or rejection? In my personal experience, emotional pain happens. Your spirit is placed in an uncomfortable position from judgment and you are left walking the path of life with an incredibly heavy burden of shame. Many of us know this burden well. We also know that when we carry it, we don’t get very far.
So, how do we lighten the burden so that we can keep moving forward on our path? The answer is in the practice of self-compassion.
What does self-compassion mean to me?
For me, self-compassion means caring for your soul when the rest of you is hurting. It is being kind and patient with yourself even when others are not being kind or patient with you. It is loving and accepting yourself as you are in the moment so that you can help yourself to safely move through your discomfort to a place of purpose and healing.
Emotional pain is a big part of the human experience and it feels different depending on the cause of it. It can feel like worry if you lose your job or heartache if you are rejected by someone you care about. In whatever ways you are feeling emotional pain, it is important for you to be with it because to ignore it is to deny yourself a chance to heal. To accept your pain and discomfort is to give yourself an opportunity to recover. I like to think of self-compassion as a devotion to your soul recovery, a dedication to your well-being and a practice that supports an open and loving heart.
When did I discover the healing power of self-compassion?
Like most “spiritual awakenings” or big heart break-throughs, I discovered the healing power of self-compassion in the midst of a personal crisis. I was drowning in stress and heard a call from my soul to wake up to my own loving kindness. The voice encouraged me to stop giving all my love and care to others and start giving it to myself. Thankfully, I was paying attention and, from the depths of my heart, I found a way back to caring for myself through a painful time. I share a part of my story in the next paragraph with the hope that it may resonate with you in some way and help you feel less alone in times of pain and discomfort.
Six years ago, my mom suffered a stroke that changed her life forever. At the same time, my two kids were starting in new (and different) schools. My son was starting kindergarten and my daughter was starting second grade. As the primary caregiver to my mom and my kids, I was pulled in several different directions to care for their individual needs. The sudden changes in my mom’s health and in our lives left me reeling. I was desperate to create a sense of calm and stability for myself and for my family. I vividly remember feeling like I was failing everyone because I couldn’t manage everything at once. Things were falling between the cracks. Even though I was doing my best, it didn’t feel good enough. At that time, I could’ve easily turned on myself and allowed negative thoughts to guide my actions. But, by a force of inner nature, I let my spirit guide me. I remember asking myself “What is the one thing I need right now?” and my inner voice responded with one word: joy. I needed a little bit of joy to lighten the burden and help me keep going. So, I scheduled two hours a week every Sunday for enjoyment with my husband and kids. We gave ourselves time and permission to rest from the struggle and be in joy. This was the beginning of our heart journey. We began discovering the true purpose of self-care and the power of self-compassion.
My life could have turned out very differently had I not paid attention to my heart. Instead of letting the stress and pressure of the situation immobilize me, I accepted the pain of my circumstances and found a way to love myself (and my family) through it.
How do I practice self-compassion?
I have a few favourite practices that help me connect with my loving energy. One of them is acupuncture. It removes blocks of fear energy within my body and restores my nervous system. The process clears space for loving energy to flow. I also love meditation. It helps me to visualize my heart space and access my loving energy. Last but certainly not least, I love time in nature. It allows my loving spirit to connect with the love of the universal spirit. It is in all of these sacred moments and spaces that we realize we are not alone.
Reading about self-compassion helps me to stay present, loving and kind through the pain and discomfort of daily life. Here are some inspiring books that are always open on my bedside table:
- The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
- When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
- The Okay Book by Todd Parr (this is a kids book but it’s simply the best when you need a simple reminder that it’s ok to make mistakes!)
And coming soon:
- Fierce Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff (available in book stores June 2021)
Thank you for being here. Let’s make time to be in the quiet depths of our hearts. Let our love be a source of movement and healing. This is the journey to deeper connection and well-being.
Next time, we’ll explore the power of intention.
Let’s journey together.