Hello Dear Readers, how are you doing in quarantine? I hope you are well and coping with all of the "new normal" routines. I will say that for myself, it's been a struggle at times, but I am also getting into a groove. One of the helpful things that I have been practicing during this stressful time that has allowed me to get to a better state of mind is self-compassion. What does that mean, you ask? Self-compassion is a term that was first coined by Dr. Kristin Neff, and she says, "With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we'd give to a good friend." Learn more at https://self-compassion.org/.
Now, I would bet that you're thinking, something along the lines of "that's all well and good, but my friend isn't as lazy, selfish, vain, weak (fill-in-the-blank) as I am." Yes, that's right, Dear Reader, I just read your mind. I can do that because it's the same narrative that goes through my mind (and every other human you know) from time to time and especially during times of extreme stress. Like right now.
So, what does self-compassion look like? Well, that's all dependent upon what you need to feel that you are treating yourself like a supportive and nurturing mother rather than Drill Sargent.
Maybe for you, self-compassion looks like baking bread and pastries and watching a little more TV than usual. Perhaps you're someone who loves being creative, and self-compassion would be time to draw instead of cleaning out the basement "because you have the time." Conversely, perhaps your version of self-compassion is cleaning out the basement instead of pressuring yourself to be creative.
Only you can know what kind of things will make you feel like you are treating yourself as you would a good friend, but friends, I encourage you to come up with a list.
In the meantime, here are some tips for self-compassion training
Take a pass on perfection. Right now, you might be confronted with responsibilities that aren't in your regular daily life. Perhaps you've become an elementary school educator recently in addition to all of your other duties. Are you trying to be the perfect parent, spouse, child, sibling, or worker? Giving yourself permission to be human and make mistakes is the number one way to improve your relationship with yourself. Would you hold a best friend to a standard of perfection? What would you do if she was really struggling and messed something up? Maybe you'd be irritated, but you wouldn't judge her as a person because of it, would you? Pretend you are that friend.
Remember that you're not alone. On an average day, there are plenty of people being hard on themselves for any reason you can imagine. Right now we are ALL experiencing more stress and uncertainty than many of us have felt in our lifetime. Feeling like you're on your own and believing the story that everyone else has it "figured out" will only add to your pain. Remember, as the saying goes, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
3. Be mindful. Dr. Neff says, "Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them." When we do not acknowledge how we feel, we end up being numb or harboring resentments, which takes a toll on how we treat ourselves and others. Take some time to notice and acknowledge what is going on for you right now. This is self-compassionate behavior and will help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of your life.