This is the week two of Niki Meadow’s, of The Richness of a Simple Life, Kindness Challenge. She’s invited people to focus on kindness for seven week; offering a prompt each week and inviting us to work with that focus and then post about it at the end of the week. Do consider joining us – now is always the right time for adding more kindness to the world.
This week’s focus was: Self-Compassion. The invitation was to pay attention to the way you treat yourself and the things you say to yourself both spoken and unspoken.
The first few weeks of this journey we’re focusing on ourselves, and not without good reason I think. So many folks struggle with giving themselves what they offer willing to others. But truly it must be a balance – we must be equally in service to ourselves to be of service to others. Otherwise flow cannot continue. We all understand this at one level – the empty cup cannot continue to pour out to another, and the cup cannot be refilled if it blocks itself off from receiving what nourishes and sustains it. But the more nuanced understanding is that we must be willing to give to ourselves what is needed. We must practice self-compassion.
It’s easy to assume we know what compassion is, and yet I think it serves us to pay attention to our thinking and our language around it. Often the way I see compassion used and spoken about contains a hint of pity and judgment and perhaps even fear. I don’t believe that’s what compassion is truly about. I think compassion is being affected by the suffering of others and moving on their behalf, because we recognize the unity of our us-ness, our all-ness.
What is compassion? It is understanding that the challenges we face are enormous; that this life journey of ours can be filled with disappointment and loss, hardship, failure and suffering and yet we’re all doing the best we can. We know these experiences ourselves, which is why we can understand them and see when others are suffering and extend compassion to them.
Compassion isn’t simply feeling sadness or grief for your own suffering or for others. It’s about finding strength in that sorrow. It’s about finding the will to continue, and it’s about allowing everything just to be as it is.
With self-compassion you offer yourself freedom from judgement; you offer yourself a break; you release the need to be anything other than exactly who and what you are in the moment. And with that comes freedom. Time to breathe. Time to invoke self-kindness; time to realize our own humanity and connection to all others; time to practice mindfulness. It allows space to understand that you have the ability to create something else, something new, something that will feel better.
The School of Life has created a wonderful little video on self-compassion. I encourage you to take four minutes and watch it.
I’m always been drawn to this understanding by Karen Armstrong:
“Compassion asks us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.”
Take it a step further and don’t inflict double damage on yourself by being anything less than compassionate when you come up against your own harsh voices and stumbling blocks.
For me this week has been a struggle with not getting nearly as much done as I’d intended. Dialing into compassion allows me to recognize that I really need to honor my unique creative pattern – I have a very organic flow of energy that follows rhythms that are not connected to the number of things on my to-do list. And I recognize that I will always, always, always have a billion more ideas of things that excite me, pique my curiosity and engender delight than I can possibly get to in the course of a week. Or a year. Or a lifetime. I have to face the fact that I’ll have to carry some of that list of explorations into my next incarnation.
What about you? Do you understand the importance of self-compassion? Do you practice it with a level of mastery? What is the most compassionate thing you can say to yourself in this moment? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
Ah brilliant Deborah thank you. How often we forget compassion towards ourselves. I’m only too familiar with the struggle of balancing the demands of everyday life with my inner demands or requirements.
A mountain of wisdom – as usual – in this lovely post. ?
I often think about what it would be like to be unchained from time – not in the sense of not caring about it, but rather having it not be a paradigm/construct/phenomenon we experience in this life. It’s easy to feel how expansive that is – the ability to tune inside and outside and not have it be conflicting in any way. And so part of what I’m being self-compassionate about today is the fact that I/we all live within a world that experiences time. 🙂
Hi Deborah – thanks for this … it is interesting how we struggle at times in our life to get beyond the challenges – I’m there now .. but realise they too will pass – thankfully I am of positive nature and will pull through. Be prepared helps … and being aware that we can ease our way … cheers Hilary
I’m sorry to hear you’re experiencing some challenges Hilary, and send best wishes that they resolve quickly and gracefully. But I think you’re spot on about all the things that can be helpful – being aware, being prepared, and knowing that our attitude shapes our experience.
Thanks for these words Deborah – self compassion is something that will take me a long time to master, but this week has certainly been a start and your words give great food for thought and great encouragement.
Have a lovely week
Oh those pesky ways we keep ourselves out of alignment with unconditional self-love and compassion – I wish we could just banish them and be done! But I’m glad we’re on this journey together and taking a look at these things. Wishing you a wonderful week as well Fil – may it be filled with all manner of kindness.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience this week! I love that although you faced challenges you were able to find a compassionate solution of acceptance. I love the video and actually contemplated sharing it but opted for another one, so I’m glad you shared it! Well worth the watch. I can’t wait to see where the last week of self-kindness takes you! Have a beautiful rest of your day and start to a fresh week <3
Thanks Niki – I’m loving this opportunity to explore all these facets and doing so with a group of other explorers is fascinating and endlessly encouraging. So thanks again for setting up the challenge. I look forward to next week, and wish you a lovely week as well.
This feeling of freedom you write about can be amazing! Our energy body is so much bigger than our physical one, if only we could free ourselves once and for ever?
LOL – while I look forward to the next great adventure, I’m not quite ready to leave my physical body behind quite yet. But I do think some of the work we can be doing is unifying our fields consciously so we can experience ourselves as expanded unified physical/energetic being. And yes, yes, yes, to freedom!
I like your inspiration of “with self-compassion you offer yourself freedom from judgment”. It is true, we are all way to quick to judge our own actions and shortcomings. What life is possible, if this was taken away and we simply acknowledged ourselves for the wonderful beings we are? Freedom, especially on the inside. Thank you for sharing!
I agree – that internal sense of freedom is SO expansive and feels so right, we can’t help but know that’s how we’re meant to feel. And understanding we’re in control of giving that to ourselves is very empowering, even if it proves a bit challenging to actually do. But I suppose that’s why there are so many opportunities provided. 🙂
The Karen Armstrong quote is wonderful! I’m realizing that ‘do unto others’ has been very much a part of my life. It’s also part of how I wind up being ‘co-dependent’ in relationships. This week’s prompt of Self-Compassion has helped me to realize that I need to strengthen this side of the equation. Thanks, Deborah, for a thought-provoking post. 🙂
It’s so helpful to have this opportunity to examine these issues deeply isn’t it Mary Lou?
I hadn’t really thought about the true nature of compassion so your post was very informative. I like to think I always try to put myself into the shoes of others and to understand and help where needed but actually reflecting that you can’t always do much more than be there and support was beneficial to realise. Once again many thanks for your wise words 🙂
I’m really loving how this challenge is offering us different perspectives, and I’m so glad to be journeying along with you.
Another lovely post, Friend! And yes, I understand perfectly well that unless I am good to myself first, then I can be no good to others. Self-compassion has played a big role in identifying the problems I had with my 3 daughters early on. It had alot to do with forgiveness of self, too. And now that they are all grown up, productive adults in society…also gainfully employed, which helps, I can focus more on giving more of myself, after myself has been properly accommodated, of course. I express that with gratitude each and every day that I wake up, and when I lay my head down to rest at night. I am loved, therefore I express love and peace and joy at every turn. Harmony among all of us is required. I love your use of us-ness and all-ness…yes we are all connected! And together, we can make a difference!
Oh Vicki it sounds like you’ve navigated this with great awareness. I of course do not mean to diminish the challenges or your hard work, but I do celebrate that you now seem to be in a sweet spot. Gratitude, harmony, connection – all beautiful things that bless us and are blessings we can extend outward.
I am momentarily struggling with exactly the same and then your newsletter arrived. Hopped over to your blog, because I remembered you’re participating in Niki’s Kindness challenge too. Nothing happens without a reason; your beautiful wisdom, just what I needed to be reminded of 😉
Wishing you a wonderful new week and already looking forward to your input for week 3.
It’s such a delight when we hear (or see) what we need to in the moment, and I’m happy to play my role in the cosmic dance of pronoia. 🙂 I’m also appreciative of your kind words and wishes Patty – they too, fill my heart.