Don't Leave Yourself Behind
Last week I shared a piece called 'My Sunset Mind' - a way of showing self-compassion and self-care. Since then, I’ve had quite a few people ask me, “What is self-compassion?” A year ago, I too learned what it meant, especially within my own life.
My introduction to self-compassion came through my own struggles of not taking care of ‘me.’ As you may or may not know, I have worked in the field of Social Services for the past 10 years, in various capacities. Primarily, I have worked as a Personal Development Counsellor and Instructor, offering support to many individuals throughout my career.
What I didn’t realize (oftentimes), is that I also needed support. The issue - I wanted to do it all. I believed I could do it all. I could be there for others and put myself aside, if I needed to. I was burning out, I was mentally exhausted but denied that my tank was empty. I’ve taught stress management and burnout many times in my work with students, but the problem was, I was not applying it in my own life.
Somehow I thought I was immune, until I was vulnerable, overwhelmed, and had nothing left to give.
In my moments of complete mental collapse brought on by stress and anxiety, I would bury my feelings and tell myself to stay busy and keep going. Because if you’re in a profession to support others, you cannot show weakness and vulnerability … WRONG!
I am human. I am not perfect. I experience feelings that are not always positive - feelings of sadness, exhaustion, guilt, uncertainty, incompetence. And for so long, I swept my broken pieces behind me and carried on as 'normal.'
Out of sight. Out of mind.
I thought if I didn't pay attention to my own weaknesses and struggles, that they would eventually disappear. They did, but only for a short period of time. The busier I got, the more energy I spent. The more energy I spent meant less emotional and physical energy I had to deal with my own personal stuff. I was not managing, but it was important to appear as though I had it all together.
Recently, I’ve been following the work of Dr. Kristin Neff, a psychology professor who does a lot of research and facilitation around self-compassion. She says there are three basic components of self compassion, which includes, “Noticing suffering, being kind and caring during times of suffering and in response to that suffering, and remembering that imperfections are part of the human experience that we all share.”
Those components sound fairly simple, but I've come discover that even the first step takes some time and work. But I'm worth it.
Self-compassion is changing perspectives - showing myself the love and care as I would for others, and not beating myself up for my mistakes and shortcomings. It's recognizing that I may be experiencing difficulties in my life and then seeking ways to provide myself with the love, care and support that I need to get through.
Self-compassion is understanding that I can be there for others without leaving myself behind.
Take some time this week to think about how self-compassion manifests within your own life.
With love and care,