Learning Self-compassion is a long term goal. I can actually say I made improvements. I am grieving a huge loss, instead of beating myself up for not moving mountains and working as if nothing happened, I am giving myself time each day to feel sad. I cry when I need to. I am not expecting myself to carry on as if nothing happened. I am allowing myself to feel what I feel without beating myself for not ‘snapping’ out of it. In my continued search for things that help me live an emotionally healthy life I cam across a web site called self-compassion. http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/ I looked up the word and here was an entire site devoted to the subject. I haven’t tried every part of the site but what I have seen so far I signed up for more information and possibly I’ll buy her book down the road. (Right now my too be rid stack is filling two book shelves.)
Self-compassion is actually something I studied well before I entered counseling. I knew in high school there was something a little off about me but my parents denied it and told me I was attention seeking and being an emotional teenager. I didn’t know that was just a way to shut me down. I took the words seriously and worked at not seeking attention, which by the way, was so emotionally abusive. When my children were small I was reading in the New Testament in the Bible about the two great commandments. Church sent out a challenge to make a banner of our beliefs. The one I chose was, “As thyself.” My abusers often trotted out the love they neighbor part but always neglected, “As thyself.” Years later my counselor proposed the idea that I can’t actually treat others better than myself because I will set myself as the standard. I was appalled. I knew how not nice I am to myself. Counseling taught me ways I can be kind to myself. I learned that self-care is not selfish. I like the meme, “You can’t pour out from an empty pitcher.” I read books on ‘How full is your Bucket.’ My struggle was I didn’t know how completely I needed to change how I thought about myself. Until I started to value myself, I wouldn’t care for me. It is one of my long term goals to learn how to take care of me. I am working on it every day.
Things I do to care for myself:
Drink enough water
eat healthy (still a struggle for me, “If you are what you eat, then I am fast, cheap and easy.”)
sleep better, improving this. I set up a system of blankets that are warm but light. Weighted blankets are not helpful for me.
Allow myself to feel emotions and identify and explore those emotions.
Working at changing myself talk. No name calling, sarcasm or belittling.
Do something to play every day. Art, photography, puzzles, Facebook are part of my play time.
Kind self-discipline. Just as allowing do whatever they want whenever they want to do it is not good for children it is not good for me either. This is a challenge for me because I too easily flip to the cruel punishing self-discipline I was raised with. My counselor encouraged me to change the words to self-parenting or self-regulating with kindness.
Spending time with people I feel are important. A couple of months ago I was involved with a huge project that left no time to help the people I love most with challenges they were facing. The project turned out well but I think I missed the point as to what was most important use of my time. Gave me an opportunity to self-check if I am actually going in the direction I want to go.
I recommend making your own list of kind and compassionate self-care things to do for yourself. I set goals in self-care is the better I care for myself the more I am able to do at work, with family and in the community. I am happier too. Nice side effect to self care.