Maybe you’ve heard of self-compassion. If you’re like me, you may have wondered – out loud:
“Does self-compassion make you a wuss?”
I used to think so.
The first time a friend told me about taking a self-compassion workshop I thought, “Yeah that makes sense that she would need that…but I don’t.”
See, I’m from an immigrant family, and I was raised with the belief that you work hard and buck up and don’t complain and stay tough and THAT is how you rise up. That is how you stay safe and provide for yourself, and your family.
Courage? You bet your ass.
Self-compassion? I didn’t know much about it, so to me it seemed like something that only fragile privileged people had the time – or need – to do.
I knew that self-compassion was needed before you could give compassion in a genuine way. I had been doing Tong-Len and metta meditation practices long enough to know that. But studying it and practicing it and all these … techniques? That seemed like…overkill.
But I was a wrong.
I’ll spare you the details, but I was convinced to do the training myself in large part because it was being offered at one of my fave places on the planet – the iconic Esalen Institute on the Big Sur coast.
Think: clothing-optional hot springs on sea cliffs; getting massages with a view of the blue water as you feel the ocean spray from waves crashing below; organic food grown on the local farm; kombucha on tap…
I know. Some of you are like hellz no – I started running when you said clothing optional. But hey, I went to UC Santa Cruz for undergrad – which was a clothing optional University. That’s another story…
So anyway, it blew my mind. And I learned that you CAN self soothe and it WORKS. I used to think my brain would know it was me and not someone else and that it would say haha! You didn’t fool me! I know that’s YOU hugging yourself and not someone that actually cares about you!
But as it turns out, our brains just…want us to be nice to ourselves.
It likes it. We like it, even though it might feel über awkward at first.
And when we are self-compassionate instead of self-critical – when we turn off the inner mean girl and turn on our very adult ability to take care of ourselves – we calm the f*ck down. And we are ready for…life.
Ready to heal.
Ready to take some risks.
Because we know we’ll be ok.
And the research shows that people that do regular self-compassion practices have better resilience too. In fact, they are starting to teach it in the military to help prevent PTSD!
So no…it won’t make you a wuss.
It’ll help you warrior up for this wild new world we live in.
And just in case you’re wondering if it’s all about whispering nice things to yourself and giving yourself hugs, there’s also a FIERCE side to self-compassion.
There’s a yin and yang to everything, and self-compassion is no exception. The yin side if the soft, holing, receiving side. The yang side is the ability to protect yourself like a fierce mama bear – creating and sticking to healthy boundaries, saying, “No,” and having your own back.
You need both.
Try these things the next time your inner critic won’t shut up:
1) Say kind things to yourself. Stuck on that? What would you say to a friend in the same predicament? Say that to yourself.
2) Ask yourself, “What do you need right now?” (that you can give yourself). And do that – the nap. The walk. The bath. The ugly cry. The friend you can call who will listen.
3) I never thought I’d say this when I was riding my BMW enduro through the Oregon foothills or with my legs going numb after hours in a hanging belay on the walls of El Cap, but…try to give yourself a damn hug. There, I said it. Don’t shoot me. You can also try a warm hand over your heart or your belly. It can seriously work.
Or it might not. There are dozens of self-compassion practices just like there are dozens of types of birth control pills – not all sit well with everyone. So you just have to try it.
And hey, don’t let people walk all over you. Don’t tolerate BS. Don’t say, “Yes!” just because you’re afraid to disappoint. Practice that fierce self-compassion as well.
This month in Freedom School we’re diving into this for the entire month, so hop on over and join us. If you’re super resistant to the idea of self-compassion, you might be just like me and know, somewhere deep down, that this is the thing that will crack you open.