I used to think self-compassion was a joke. Actually, it used to anger me. The first time I read Brene´ Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, it actually made me furious. I can still go back and read the notes I sprinkled in the margins: “how ridiculous!”, “this is NOT true”, “what a selfish pity party”, and so on. Self-compassion was not only unnecessary, it was hypocrisy. I would think, “ Who really needs a lesson in how to love themselves? For real! We all love ourselves most of all. Loving ourselves comes easiest. It’s loving others that trips us up!”
Now that last part may still be true about loving others, but I’m no longer sure about how easy it is for us to love ourselves. The more self-aware I try to become, the more I realize that I do NOT only struggle to love myself, I don’t even like myself on some days.
And it’s not selfish to set out toward self-compassion. In fact, it might actually be the opposite. How can I show kindness to others if I can’t even show it to myself? How can I teach my children to value themselves and others if I’m modeling self-loathing right in front of them? Can we really love others if we don’t even love ourselves?
What’s so wrong with self-compassion? Or was I actually reading a book about embracing imperfections, and chastising myself (and Brown) for even considering it?
It’s been a few years since that first reading, and I am on my own journey toward self-compassion. The more I read about it, and the more self-aware I become, the more I realize the effort I need to put in here- not just for me, but for my family, my friends, and those around me who deserve my love. Self-compassion is not selfishness. It’s living the way I want my children to live. It’s loving myself the way I want to love others. It’s learning how to be compassionate with the woman in the mirror, so I can do the same for anyone and everyone else.
I wanted to share with you a few tips I learned about how to be more self-compassionate, and so I created a little workbook. I want to share it with you here today, but first, I want to be clear about what it is and what it isn’t- and about who I am and who I am not.
This workbook is not a clinical study, nor is it a proven prescription for healing. It’s a compilation of ideas collected by one flawed woman to share with others. It’s a hodge podge of ingredients that have helped me, and that might help you. It’s a bit of a love letter, but it’s NOT a proven method. Please remember that.
I am not a doctor. I have no fancy letters after my name, and I have not studied medicine, or psychology, or psychiatry. I am not a clinician, nor am I a therapist of any kind.
What I am is a flawed but beautiful woman. I am a mother, a daughter, a friend. I am your friend, even if we’ve never met, because if you’re reading this, or any of my recent blog posts, and they’re resonating with you, then we are connected. I’m a woman being vulnerable, inviting other women to do the same. Perhaps that makes me some kind of activist. Perhaps today I’m just a guide. Or just a friend. I’m ok with that.
Please keep this in mind as you read through this blog post, and the workbook. Friend to friend, I’m just offering my heart.
I am starting to think that the first step toward self-compassion is recognizing the new reality around me. For this, I need look no further than Facebook. For you, it might be Instagram, or Pinterest, or your favorite blog, but my guess is that it’s some social media platform. Social media is part of our everyday lives. It’s our new reality, and if we’re not careful, we can fall prey to believing that what we see on social media is really how it is.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to recognize social media for what it is- a record of everyone’s best days, best pictures, best stories- and stop comparing our actual realities to these artificial ones. I go into more depth about this subject in the workbook.
I’ve spent the last few blog posts discussing what I’ve been reading about shame, and how shame can only grow in silence. When we start to reflect on our own stories, and even consider sharing them, shame has nowhere to thrive, and it dies.
Self-reflection is a safe way to begin telling your story, because it’s just between you and your heart. In The Self-Compassion Startup, I offer a brainstorming worksheet to help guide your toward discovering your own unique and beautiful story through self-reflection.
The writer in me loves this step, but you might hear the words “journaling” and cringe. I know many women who hate the idea of journaling. That’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re getting out of this step, but I appreciate and respect your discomfort. And now I’m going to gently try and prod you out of it.
Ernest Hemingway once said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” That’s all I’m suggesting here. This isn’t about beautiful flowy words, or about publishing this for anyone. This is simply about getting that story of yours out of your head and onto paper. Journaling can be so therapeutic, another way to kill the shame.
These are just a few quick ideas to get you a step closer to self-compassion. But I’ve spent the last season considering this in my own life, working through these steps, and more, and putting them together for you in a workbook. It’s a simple book, not quite 20 pages long, with simple steps. But it’s NOT easy. It’s challenging. It’s difficult. And I think it’s so worth it.
If this blog post has been helpful, and you know someone who might enjoy it, then please share it. Wouldn't it be great to connect with women everywhere who could use a little more self-compassion in their lives?