Seems like I’ve been talking a lot about self-compassion this week – with clients, in meditation group, and working on it for myself, as well. I am amazed at the changes that have occurred with a simple shift in the way I talk to myself about life. There is a relaxed quality that persists without a lot of effort on my part. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Well, it IS great! I didn’t realize until my late 20’s that I had inherited my view of life and the world. In my 30’s I thought I could change it. In my 40’s I figured out how to change it for real with compassionate treatment of myself. I was so sick of the visceral over-reaction in my body and mind when things “go wrong” that left me exhausted and feeling anxious all the time, over and over like a broken record. Turns out, it was just a habit I picked up and could also drop.
If we stop and look at how inciting panic in our own bodies and minds over the littlest things accumulates into a life of unease and unrelenting stress, we can begin to experiment with what happens if we say to ourselves “it’s okay, even if it isn’t perfect and I don’t know how it will turn out, it’s not the end of the world.” Even if we can’t calm down, we can treat ourselves kindly while we’re suffering, which has a paradoxical calming effect. The key is not to dismiss our feelings, but to start to notice the paradox – we’re suffering even when not very much is really happening. Have you ever noticed? Mindfulness practices can also help with starting to spot the patterns of needless suffering.
Christopher Germer, who I affectionately refer to as “the self-compassion guy” has downloadable guided meditations and pdf descriptions of how to do different meditations available from his website. They can be a great help in making the shift to a more compassionate attitude toward yourself.
I highly recommend checking it out. There’s nothing to lose but your suffering!