One Way to Think About Self-Compassion

Say you're sitting in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee. Your friend walks in looking disappointed. I didn't get the job, she says. She sinks into a chair. I had everything they wanted, she tells you. And I blew it. Which is typical for me. I feel like a total failure.

I'm going to guess that you'd put your coffee down, turn your chair towards your friend, and say something like: Oh, I'm so sorry. That's really hard. But you didn't blow it. And you are absolutely not a total failure. This kind of stuff happens to everyone. Want to talk about it?

Or maybe you'd wrap your arms around her and hold her while she cries.

But I'm going to guess that you would not say, "You're right, you blew it, like you always do. You are a total failure."

Which is so interesting because that's pretty close to how we can talk to ourselves, isn't it?

And it's real hard to rebound when we're so busy beating our head and our heart up.

So when I'm disappointed and hurting, and about to add to that with some self-flogging, there's a little reminder I offer myself: Treat yourself the way you'd treat a friend in pain. Hold yourself the way you'd hold her. Care for yourself the way you'd care for him.

When I put this into practice, it feels a little mechanical at first. But if I keep at it, I'll start to soften, loosen, lighten up. As most any creature would when cared for.

And, unsurprisingly, it's a whole lot easier to rebound from a softer, looser, lighter place.

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Becoming KinderCaitie Whelan