Reverb13 Prompt 19: Self-Compassion
The Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
In the past year, I have been on a mission to understand and practice self-compassion, which is sometimes defined as ”extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering,” and what I have learned has made me realize that this practice is at the heart of everything.
How will you practice self-compassion?
This year, I finally finished a book called Soul Without Shame that I bought in early 2010. It was recommended as a book for people who suffer from the ‘Imposter Syndrome,’ people who believe that they suck even though the world sees themselves as great. It was not a great book, but I took a few things out of it, including how exhausting negative self-talk is. It decreases so much of your energy, it becomes a real hamster wheel. You feel terrible about your abilities, it exhausts you, and then you have no energy to use your natural talents.
I certainly feel like that at times, probably at least a little bit once a day. I am determined to get off this wheel and use my energy in better ways.
As part of my meditations, I’ve been listening to Zencast episodes and one of the shows that was most eye-opening to me was on fear. For most of us, fear makes us run- either retreat or act aggressively. We would be better to be mindful that we are having the emotion of fear, sit with it, and be compassionate with yourself that you are having this difficult moment. It will help you make better decisions and feel less physically stressed. It is also important to remember that suffering is part of being alive and it’s okay to feel negative emotions.
I am trying this approach to self-compassion with some bad news I received last night about the tentative plan I’d been working on for next year for my career and work. My plan for having health insurance in 2014 is no longer viable and since health insurance is tied to work in our country, that discovery is going to change the path I was exploring and close options for me. While I said in a previous post that money is not everything, my health is important to me and I need more peace of mind about what care is available to me in case something happened than I’ve had this year.
My instinct was to yell at myself to get over this disappointment and suck it up and move on and most importantly, that I was stupid in the first place for having expectations that this would not be the conclusion to my plan that I would have insurance through other means. Really, I deserve this outcome because I decided to take so many risks the last two years. I cried last night because I felt so stupid and lost and today am trying to feel compassion for myself as much as possible. It will also help with my decision-making process.
One part of the Reverb experience that has stuck with me this year is the shared experience of it. I have been reading others’ posts and have felt surprise and empathy at how many of the bloggers participating have experienced very difficult years in 2013. Like, crazy difficult things that are rarely on my radar. I am grateful they have shared their vulnerability, not because I take joy in the voyeurism of watching struggles, or that I feel relief when comparing my own itty-bitty challenges, but as a reminder that suffering is part of human nature and we all feel it. The fact that I don’t know the majority of these woman makes the point even stronger.
Sitting with that realization is mind-opening and comforting and warm.