Self-Compassion. It is the word, and practise, I use most nowadays. And it is by far the practise I weave into my coaching the most. In my experience pretty much everybody I encounter is incredibly hard on themselves. I am no exception, hence why this practise is so important to me.
Self-Compassion. What does it mean to you? I know, coming from a place of a very strong inner critical voice, being gentle on myself was not an option for a very long time. There were things I needed to do, be, create, manifest, support… the list was endless. All these sentences in my head were hammering down on me and they all started with “I should”.
And slowing down, being kind, taking a break, softening my behaviour towards myself was not an option. Because, you know, there was stuff to be and do, and I needed to get on with it. Cue exhaustion, depletion, tension, pain, isolation. That list goes on too.
At one point, I remember it well, I was in Bali, supposedly needing to have an amazing time in this amazing place, and it sucked. Big time. Because this voice in my head would not shut up. At some point I sincerely thought I might go crazy. And at that point I said to this voice: “Stop. I am not going to listen to you anymore or believe everything you say. I hear you, and you can speak, but you need to take your place amongst the other voices and take a back seat.” Big moment. That is where I started this journey towards more gentleness. On a dusty road on a way too hot day on an unremarkable street in Ubud. That is usually where these revelations happen in my experience. But I digress..
Self-Compassion. To me it includes taking a break from being hard on myself. Softening. Asking myself: how can I be more kind to myself right now? Noticing when I am pushing, forcing, and consciously relaxing. Asking myself: what do I need right now? And give it to myself. Stepping away from the rat race, and tuning into what this body, this heart, this mind, need right now. Slowly getting intimate with who I truly am. And listening to and honouring that.
It comes as no surprise I can show up much kinder towards others as well, when I honour my own needs first.
✦ Brené Brown has an amazing video on boundaries, needs and generosity. You can watch it here ✦
Yet, if you, like me, come from a background of hard-working women and men, with little time for breaks or taking stock, you might confuse self-compassion with laziness, ‘not having a spine’, flakiness, or the worst: being selfish.
Yet, think about it: would you speak to a dear friend the way you speak to yourself all day long? Yup. Let that one sink in. I have a great friend who helped me immensely with this by mentioning every time I was being hard on myself: “I do not like you speaking to my friend like this.” Thanks Miriam ❤
There are so many beliefs running the show. Everybody is over-extending. Collectively we are burning out. So self-compassion is not a luxury in my world, but an absolute necessity.
I get that this is hard for so many people. It was for me. But I am getting so much better at it, and the secret is: life gets so much better when you do this. You can have time to smell the roses, to enjoy, to be true to yourself, and maybe even most importantly: to get intimately connected to what you truly need. And that, my friends, is also a great awareness to have in any relationship.