It’s the weekend and perhaps you have some exciting plans to look forward to. It’s been snowing heavily in my neck of woods, which can bring on the winter blues for some of us. Does the weather affect your mood and do you believe that occasional sadness is a normal aspect of life? If so, how do you relate to yourself during these moments? The benefits of separating our identity from our emotions (as discussed in Day 5’s post) is the ability to also experience self compassion during periods of melancholy or disappointment. Becoming intentional with meeting my emotional needs gradually gave me grace to allow my emotional sadness to pass through me just as I’d chose not to react from anger or frustrations. This a far cry from when I found the concept of self compassion to be such an illusive ideal. I didn’t actually understand what I needed to do to experience the internal kindness towards myself when I otherwise felt inadequate. Sure, I was familiar with how to affirm some loving words to yourself during these occasions but my mind still didn’t believe it so I might as well have been speaking gibberish.
I would eventually stumble upon the ‘practice’ of self compassion during one of my first incidents of feeling sad after embarking on my spiritual journey. The emotions took my naivete by surprise like taking a wrong turn off a high way because I didn’t expect to find melancholy in the land of self acceptance. Naturally, I tried holding my sadness up over my head to avoid feeling those emotions as I had always done in the past. Ironically having greater self awareness led to quickly becoming emotionally exhausted from carrying my emotions instead of feeling them. I did something that I didn’t think I knew how to do, which was practice compassion by relaxing and just allowing my emotions to fall on me wibout caring how heavy it would land. But instead of the soul obliteration that I feared, I felt at peace with myself. Turns out, expending excessive energy fighting, judging and justifying our emotions creates the sense of suffering that we dread. Not being mentally drained by rationalizing my sadness allowed me to focus my attention on life as it was unfolding. Thus, I eased out that episode of dismay much sooner that ever before. That experience left me contemplating how to convey that particular aspect of self compassion to others who also find it to be difficult as I once did. I concluded that we need to approach ourselves in parent child dynamic to practice self compassion by revisiting a pivotal life experience where one felt inadequate as a result of some sort of circumstantial failure in which they felt (or perceived) not being good enough before the opinions of others.. These represent the occasions that we often lacked compassion for ourselves. Thus, expressing what was necessary to feel loved to our former selves from ourselves now in a letter offers a tangible context for “how” to be kind and supportive of one’s emotions. It also provides a familiar vocabulary for doing so in subsequent episodes of emotional disappointment. The letter gives us permission to be both vulnerable and protective of our emotions, simultaneously embodying the hurt and wiser aspects of ourselves. Discovering that we always have both of these entities within us prevents us from solely identifying with our emotional sadness. But to tap into the broader perspective of our higher self and be compassionate towards our experience of discontent or frustrations.
1.) Recall an incident, phase, event in your life in which you may have felt inadequate or worried about not being good enough. Write a letter of compassion from yourself now to yourself back then. What did you need to know back then to feel safe? What would you say to yourself back then to help you feel worthy during that experience given the hindsight you’ve gained?
2.) Now consider how that experience is actually a universal human predicament that we all go through and extend this same feeling of compassion to everyone who is currently undergoing this experience.
–Its easy to feel inadequate if we believe that we are the only ones experiencing our struggles. Recognizing the humanity in our experiences helps us to focus on the lessons and growth that we can take from our challenges.
3.) Identity what you are proud of about yourself during this experience? How did you rise to occasion?
–It’s always mush easier to focus on what we didn’t do right instead of celebrating our resiliency. Acknowledging how we overcome challenges leads to trusting our instincts and not resisting our emotions.
—One of the ways that I shift into gratitude during disappointment is identifying the underlying reason for feeling inadequate and finding 3 examples in my life that confirm why the opposite belief is true.
Resisting our emotions forces them to persist longer than it needs to. We are not our emotions, therefore self love does not mean that we cannot encounter sadness nor does it entail wallowing in it. Self compassion enables us to express reassurance to our hurt feelings by allowing us to embody the wisdom of our higher self. Be gentle with yourself as you complete today’s exercises.