Saturday, December 5, 2015

Self Compassion

This term is bantered about in what seems to be every healing modality. In this very blog I touch on its extreme importance to our growth and self awareness. But as I look out into the world I see so many of us struggling with the concept over and over again. I began to wonder why self compassion remains a foreign idea to most and a poorly utilized teaching of those whose path the phrase has crossed.

Certainly the easiest answer is that we have never been taught of its significance and more often then not, have not been outwardly shown unwavering compassion from those who were most meaningful in our childhood; and on and on the pattern goes the further we look back in our history. That lead me to the next question, "Why not?"

I came to the realization that self compassion has been confused with self pity. The two truly are worlds apart. Self compassion is not comparable to a permanent seat on the ole pity pot. How so?

Well, we've all taken some time in our lives to hang out on the pity pot and so we all know the beliefs and thoughts that can be found there: "Poor me." "Why does this kinda stuff always happen to me?" "Why can't I catch a break?" "Here we go again...." "Things never work out for me." "It's not fair." As we sit perched on that hard, unyielding seat our world appears to be cast in hues of the most dull and dingy gray, while our mind sees others' lives projected in technicolor. It's a lonely place to be because very few of us have the desire or tolerance to remain too long beside another that has taken up long term residence there, the air seemingly too thick and the energy oppressive. The pity pot is like a bus stop to nowhere.

Self compassion on the other hand, asks questions as well but in contrast to self pity, it is truly looking and waiting for an answer: "What do I need?" "How can I support myself or be supported by another?" The phrases offered are meant to be comforting and validating, "Yes, this is hard right now but I will take one step at  time." When we allow ourselves to fall into the space of self compassion it is like lying supported on a bed of the softest comforters. When we look from this place we may not see all the answers but we might catch a glimpse of hope and possibilities. Interestingly, when we open our heart to ourselves we find less isolation and greater connection to the world at large, the air about us no longer a sinking abyss of darkness and suffocation but is instead saturated with acceptance. The bus stop of self compassion is a nonstop ticket into the wonders and depths of our lives and our soul.

So you see, self pity invites despair, hopelessness and helplessness as we become the consummate victim to the world at large. In contrast, self compassion is empowering, pulsing with love and new found discoveries and understandings as we remain in charge of our inner world. One pulls us down while the other lifts us up. When viewed with this level of clarity we can begin to know and understand the value of self compassion and proceed with an air of caution lest we turn the pity potty in our personal throne. There is no shame or impotent self indulgence to be found in self compassion. Instead, if you open its doors you will find deeper self acceptance and a healing path laid before you. The invitation to explore awaits you.

Be well and happy.

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