I've not always been very compassionate towards myself. In fact, as an INFP personality type, self-hate, punishment and criticism is a speciality of mine. However, personality type aside, this is something that can plague every single one of us - I know this because, you have told me.
I hear it everywhere I go; on my daily travels, in passing conversations, strangers in a cafe. I see it all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And I sense it in chats with friends and the people I love most. Not to mention, I hear it constantly within my own head.
Being mean to yourself for not being 'good enough', for 'failing', for making 'mistakes', for 'disappointing', for not living up to 'expectations' and anything else you find beating yourself up over - that's the easy part, right? I know it is. It's easy to assume and think the worst, and in the process bring ourselves down and feel guilty and terrible about it.
Interestingly though, I'm sure you have no problem in showing compassion and kindness to your friends? And probably even strangers? Because most of us don't!
Self-compassion is essentially treating yourself as your own bestie. It's extending that kindness, acceptance, understanding and empathy you so easily give to others back in towards yourself as well. Think of all the negative thoughts you fire at the target on your own back, and ask yourself, would you ever say this to someone you care about? I suspect the answer will be no.
Self-compassion is something I have been practising a lot recently. To be frank, this month has been shit (inside that little head of mine anyway) and I've found the last couple of weeks a bit difficult.
So this is what self-compassion has been looking like for me:
Allowing Myself To Feel My Emotions
I cried every single day last week. I cried because I was sad, I was anxious and I was feeling disconnected. And I cried without judging myself.
I allowed those tears to fall without being frustrated that I was an 'emotional mess', once again (something I used to always judge). I didn't tell myself to "Pull it together" or "Sort yourself out". Instead, I accepted and found understanding that yes; I was emotional, because I am an emotional person (in a good way, and a bad way), and that I was overwhelmed by a lot of things. But that doesn't make me a mess - it just needed to get out!
And besides, I feel damn good after an explosive ugly cry, so why would I rob myself of that? LET THE TEARS ROLL I SAY!
Taking The Pressure Off
I've been struggling with motivation, concentration and focus lately. I fell ill for a week at the start of this month which really disrupted my flow and schedule. The lasting result was a feeling of guilt, disorganisation, failure and that I'm fated to always be a disappointment.
My boyfriend very wisely reminded me that being ill was not taking time off (see the compassion he extended to me?), which made me think about how much pressure I place on myself and how stressed that makes me feel. In this moment, I stopped beating myself up and kindly asked myself what I needed to help. The answer, funnily enough, was giving myself some time off! So for 1.5 hours, I turned my music up LOUD and I sang and danced my little heart out!
I gave myself permission to put aside work for that morning, to not even think about it and do something that would feed my soul, get me moving and boost my mood!
Challenging My Own Thoughts
My calendar has been quite full with meetings, social events, and a lot of people this month! As an introvert, this is draining for me (suuuper draining) and with hardly any good quality alone and quiet time, it began to take its toll (I'm still not fully recharged from this yet either). I could feel the tension bubbling up and beginning to be directed at people.
As I was thinking "Eurgh, I can't stand people", I couldn't help but laugh at myself as I realised that's not true at all, I love learning about people and often find myself in awe with inspiration - I simply needed some silence in the comfort of my own company. I don't feel bad for thinking that, nor do I believe it means you're a horrible person. We all have our limits stretched at times.
Being Patient With Myself
I have found very little time this month to work on designing and crocheting - negativity has a way of stifling creativity. In this space I often start hearing a tidal wave of self-doubt and insecurity telling me that "I'm not creative, I'm a fraud, I'm not capable!", making it even harder to start creating again.
I find the best way to approach these situations is to build it up gradually again, in a way that's out of public display and just for me personally. So I've been focusing on art journaling! It's been great for having a little play around, for experimenting, trying things out and more importantly processing how I've been feeling. My favourite things I've done are a couple of collages that I feel really captured my emotions at that point!
I believe allowing yourself time and space is one of the most compassionate things you can do for yourself.
By the way - Art Journaling is never about creating pieces of 'artwork' or being artistic (because creativity is not limited to artistic capabilities in the slightest!) - I'll be doing a blog post about this in the future in case you're interested in trying it out!
You might have noticed that alongside compassion came self-care activities - I believe the 2 go hand in hand!
So what might self-compassion look like for you?
Keep an eye out for my Quietening Your Inner Critic workshop with Hayley from Quiet Connections which will help guide you in exploring self-compassion for yourself ❤ - So that next time you find yourself treating yourself more like your worst enemy rather than your best friend, you'll have your own individual toolkit and POA to begin being kinder, accepting and more understanding towards yourself!
Love Stacie x