Readers of my work will know a while back I went to Sedona, where I got a reiki massage and a medium reading, both for the first time. (Read more about reiki here.) There was a lot the woman who performed both had to offer up to me, but one thing in particular stood out: She looked at me towards the end of our session and noted, “You’re incredibly hard on yourself, and carrying stress. You should know you’re really just doing fine. See if you can be a bit kinder to yourself.”
The next month, I got reiki again, with a different practitioner back in D.C. Her upshot at the end of the session? “You’re pretty stressed out, and very hard on yourself. See if you can work to nurture some self-compassion.”
Strangely (for those of you who know me, perhaps) I have never thought of myself as hard on myself — or stressed. I meditate, I work out, I generally try to be a compassionate person. So after those two reiki sessions landed on the same thing, I asked my therapist if she thought I was stressed and hard on myself. She looked at me like a idiot of sorts, and agreed with the reiki assessments.
Isn’t it funny how other people can see you much more clearly than you might be able to see yourself?
GODDAMMIT, I thought. WHY CAN’T I BE BETTER AT SELF-KINDNESS AND BE LESS STRESSED OUT?!?! (I only semi-kid.) But since those moments I’ve worked to notice what is now very obviously an incredibly self-critical voice in my head, about almost everything — my body, my appearance, my work, my relationships, my value as a person simply existing in the world. I thought I was a compassionate and relaxed person because I do very easily offer up compassion and tenderness to others. But myself? That part needs some help.
And I know I’m not alone in these issues. I’ve been trying out a few self-compassion tactics, and I wanted to offer them up to you today in case you’re struggling with this, too. And I promise you this: You’re doing great.
- Every time I start to say something negative in my head to myself, I think of my 5-year-old niece, and somebody saying those same words to her. I would literally EVISCERATE anybody who said the kind of stuff I say to myself on a regular basis to her. So why can I say it to me? I am every bit as deserving of love and kindness and acceptance as she is.
- I try to look at photos of myself as a child, and direct tenderness towards her. That child is me, and I am that child.
- This excellent post from Mari Andrew offers up some new language you can use when speaking to yourself in difficult or self-judgmental situations.
- Over the summer, I went to a 5-day silent meditation retreat. All the meditation was great but what really both charged and melted the room was this guided meditation on self-forgiveness that the leader, Shell Fisher, gave. See if you can access it here — it’s the “karuna and self-forgiveness” download, and you may need a password — FWHH.
What tactics do you use for self-compassion and kindness? I would love if you shared.