Self-Compassion Helped Me Survive
It was during my daughter’s cancer treatment that I had a lot of practice being there for myself. We stayed in the hospital for seven months, and everyday I lived in terror that she might not make it. My number one priority was to be there for her, but in order to do that, I had to function alongside many intense and overwhelming emotions.
Getting in touch with this part of yourself, and learning to access it, allows you to be with yourself in a semi-objective way, even when the going gets really hard. This is the part of me that I accessed while my daughter was sick in order to comfort myself and let myself know that no matter what happened, I wouldn’t be alone and that I would be OK. That no matter what, I wouldn’t abandon myself. This helped me survive her illness, as well as her death, and the subsequent grief journey that has followed.
We Aren’t Taught How to Show Up For Ourselves
Six Simple Ways to Practice Self-Compassion
1. Turn your attention inward.
Learning to reconnect with our internal experience is a basic prerequisite for being able to be there for ourselves during difficult moments. We can’t “be with” our experience, if we are so in our experience that we have zero self-awareness about what we are even experiencing.
It can be difficult to find this calm, centered part of ourselves at first, especially if we’ve never intentionally turned toward our inner world. Most of us walk around focused on the world “out there,” while simultaneously fully identified with our emotions and thoughts.
To begin practicing this, set the intention of getting curious about what is going on inside of you. Take an inventory periodically throughout the day of what emotions you are feeling and what thoughts you are thinking. Label them as you notice them. “Sadness” … “thinking about how dumb I sounded when I said that”... Just notice without judgment. If you are judging, just notice that too.
This is a practice that is best to do daily. Overtime, your orientation toward your inner world will begin to change. You will be more self-aware, and less fully identified with your thoughts and feelings.
2. Reconnect with your body.
Most of us are walking around in a dis-embodied state. We can’t feel our bodies. We think of our bodies as objects, making judgments based on appearance, instead of actually experiencing being in our bodies. Embodiment is the experience of fully inhabiting one’s body in a direct way.
Part of learning to show up for ourselves is tuning into what our body is telling us, and we can’t do this if we are constantly approaching our body through objectification. One way to start shifting away from objectification toward embodiment, is to bring awareness to your relationship with the mirror. How often do you use the mirror to relate to your body? Probably a lot. Looking in the mirror is relating to the body from the outside-in, through appearance and objectification.
Set the intention to move away from using the mirror as a go-between, and instead start trying to focus on what it feels like to be in your body. Less concern about external appearance, more concern with internal experience and embodied sensation.
Being in our bodies can feel deeply uncomfortable, especially when we’ve been taught to solely relate to our body through our appearance. If there are parts of your body that feel particularly uncomfortable and bring up negative feelings/thoughts, there are many ways to work with this, and they all involve directing compassion toward the parts of you that become triggered.
3. Treat yourself like a friend.
Ask yourself, “how would I treat a friend that was going through this?”
It's common to feel as if everyone in the world is worthy of compassion, except for us. But this simply isn’t true. You are human, just like every other human. You are deserving of compassion, just like everyone else. Remind yourself of this frequently.
4. Think of yourself, or your body, as a small child you are charged with caring for.
Imagine that a small child was feeling the way you are feeling, how would you care for that child? Notice any parts of you that start criticizing, “But I’m not a child, I shouldn’t need to be cared for like a child. What is wrong with me?” Just acknowledge that part of you with compassion, and let it know you will be there for it too, and that everything will be OK.
We often neglect our own needs because we don’t realize that we need the same kind of love and care that children need.** All of us have very young parts inside of us that need our attention and care at any given moment. The sooner we accept that reality, the better we will be able to show up for ourselves.
**As adults, it is our responsibility to give ourselves what our inner children need, it is not the responsibility of romantic partners, our parents, or anyone else.
5. Commit to not abandoning yourself during difficult moments.
When you are feeling scared, alone, or overwhelmed, practice saying, “I will not leave you.” “I am on your side, always, no matter what.” “You will never be alone, because I will always be here for you.”
6. Physically comfort yourself.
Put your hand over your heart, or give yourself a hug by wrapping your arms around yourself. Sometimes rocking back and forth can feel soothing as well. Combining phrases like, “I will not leave you,” with these physical comfort measures can go a long way in helping you stay present with yourself during strong emotional reactions.
Self-Compassion is a Lifestyle
Deciding to show up for ourselves with compassion is an ongoing lifestyle choice. And just like we aren’t perfect friends, partners, or parents to other people in our lives, we won’t always show up perfectly for ourselves either. And that’s OK. It’s all about intention, and making repairs when necessary.
Therapy is one of the best ways to heal young parts of ourselves and develop a relationship with our wise, compassionate self. Having a trauma history can make it more difficult to do this work by oneself.
Looking for an Online Therapist in Kansas?
Would you like to turn your attention inward and deepen your self-compassion? My Lawrence, Kansas counseling practice specializes in providing therapy for highly sensitive adults, therapy for self-esteem, therapy for anxiety, and therapy for codependency, and grief and bereavement counseling.
Through counseling I help people overcome shame and the fear of being their true selves. Breaking the cycles of people-pleasing and self-abandonment is possible, and I'm here to help. I offer online therapy throughout the state of Kansas.
Reach out today to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation, I'd love to hear from you!
Other Services Offered by Sacred Circle Holistic Healing
In addition to providing online therapy anywhere in Kansas, I’m also a professional astrologer, and offer Birth Chart Readings anywhere in the United States, as well as abroad.
Astrology is a powerful tool for gaining self-awareness, finding meaning in and understanding of our difficult experiences, and for receiving validation regarding our own unique life path. All of which supports our mental health in a positive way!
Interested in getting a Natal Chart Reading? Book a free phone consultation and let’s get started!