Dear Awesome Woman,
Who are you and who would you be if you adopted the habit of self-compassion?
Please ask yourself this question: When you make a mistake or things don’t go as you planned, do you beat yourself up afterwards and shame yourself with “should haves, could haves”?
Or do you acknowledge and honor the human, imperfect you?
I use to be a great self – beater upper (is that even a word?). But in the past year plus I’ve been practicing more self-compassion and kindness and noticing that it’s so much easier to change behavior patterns from this gentle place than from a self-critical, judgemental place.
I’ve even adopted a practice that helps me take small steps towards making self-compassion a habit. I call it my “oh, honey” practice..
Whether I over-eat or show up late for an appointment or even criticize a loved one (sometimes I forget to put tape on my mouth) and I hear my inner critic start to lambast me with messages of “oh, how could you have done that again – you are such a loser…..”, I stop, and take a deep breath. Then I choose a moment of self-compassion.
I reach for an amber colored stone and as I drop it into a small, shell shaped dish on my desk, I say soothing words to myself. It’s as if I have a compassionate angel at my side. I may say “oh, honey, you made a mistake and that feels really lousy, doesn’t it? You’re only human.”
I call the dish my “oh, honey” bowl. That physical act of dropping a stone into it and speaking kind words to myself at the same time helps me bring up a feeling of compassion for my very human self.
The original situation brought up a feeling of shame. But rather than spinning into a deeper shame cycle and hurting myself with critical, judgemental words, I make a conscious effort to shift in a kinder direction. From this place of self- kindness and understanding, my defenses drop. I’m willing to look at the situation more objectively, rather than make excuses for myself or blame the other person.
Shaming and self-criticism take a lot of energy and feel very constricting in the body. Compassion on the other hand feels expansive and warm. Without having to spend so much energy on defending myself from my own criticism, I have the energy to apologize for showing up late or for hurting someone. I have the energy to exercise or eat differently at the next meal.
It’s basically a win – win.
So, next time, you find yourself in that constricted, tight space of beating yourself up, make an about face and choose to stop and breathe. Give yourself an essential drop of “oh, honey” and feel your body melt. Notice if these gentle gems of kindness to yourself help you to make the changes you’ve been desiring in relationship to yourself and others.