Cultivating Compassion for Yourself
So oftentimes, we go on and on about compassion for others, but in the process, we forget about ourselves. We tell ourselves negative things about how we aren’t good enough, we deprive ourselves of sleep, we deny ourselves radical self-love because, you know, we don’t have time for that. This has been a lifelong struggle for me.
“Never mind. The self is the least of it. Let our scars fall in love.” –Galway Kinnell
So I’ve come to realize, we are worthy of giving ourselves compassion too. The saying goes, you gotta love yourself before you can love anyone else. And to expect reciprocation from others in order to validate ourselves isn’t always viable. In fact, it can make us crazy if we spend our whole lives waiting for someone to be nice to us or return the favors. We just have to let our inner love radiate out and it will touch everyone you meet and someday, maybe, it will boomerang back (it will).
I suffered for many years with chronic depression and anxiety. When I was only 12, a psychiatrist wanted to put me on Prozac! I refused. I’m glad I had a choice. I turned to journaling as a refuge for my anxieties. I have a giant stack of journals from over the years! But the point is, writing has helped me accept myself for who I am, vulnerabilities, flaws and all. And forgive myself for things I’ve done that I’m not so proud of or for being so hard on myself for things I should’ve done or shouldn’t have done! In the past (maybe yesterday), I’ve told myself over and over again that I’m not a good writer or artist, I have nothing good to say or share, and I probably shouldn’t be writing any blogs or taking any photos or painting any paintings or strumming any guitars. But what good does that do? Maybe it took (way too many) years for me to get to this point of courage of sharing more of my soul, but now I’m just going to do it all anyway, even if it sucks and no one likes it.
“If i fuck it up, it’s cool. that’s art.” – Matt Nathanson
Make yourself happy. Do what you gotta do. Accept your inner darkness and honor your inner light. I think a huge issue in the world is that we don’t allow ourselves to FEEL. Even if it’s a shitty feeling. To lean into the pain when we feel it. To accept the darkness and let it be the yin to our yang. To not fight it, but notice it’s only normal to feel all these emotions. Give it SPACE. It will be able to breathe but not take over your life. Thank it for teaching us what we need to know, but notice when it hurts and let ourselves feel it, then let it flow out of our heads and out through our toes. Know that it isn’t all there is to it. WE are NOT our pain. It’s separate. Our souls can never be wounded. Only our egos can. Let the light (our souls) shine brighter than the darkness. Sometimes we hole ourselves up in the cave of hurt, anger and negativity feeling like there’s no way out. When the light is right there, showing you the way out. It’s gratitude. It’s love. It’s acceptance.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”― Dr. Seuss
I’ve read up quite a bit about self love- here’s are some of the best tips I’ve learned (or maybe I made some up):
- See yourself as a mother to your inner child. Speak to him/her as you would someone you genuinely care about. Tell them they matter and everything will be okay. Nourish, give water, give rest.
- Let your mind be a blue sky and your thoughts the clouds floating by. Just notice the clouds, but if they are rainy (full of negative words), let them keep on going. You don’t have to stand under every cloud.
- Tell yourself you love yourself. Over and over again. Until you believe it. Say it aloud. Let it be the background noise in your mind “I love myself”
- Don’t let society tell you that you aren’t talented enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or the right size, color, shape, gender, whatever….BE YOU. PASSIONATELY.
- Practice Ahimsa – the premise of it is non-violence and compassion towards all living beings. The belief is all souls have the same spark, so if you harm another, you harm yourself.
- Don’t burn out. You can only do so much in a day. If you didn’t save the world today for everyone, maybe you did for just one person or animal. Or maybe you accomplished something great or maybe you needed a break and let yourself have it. At the end of the day, just hug yourself and accept that whatever you did today is wonderful and enough.
Must read books that help for cultivating compassion:
- Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On it
- The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
- A New Earth/ Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- An Open Heart by Dalai Lama
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
- Big Magic by Liz Gilbert
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
What books have you read about Cultivating Compassion? I know I always will have a lot more to read as it’s a subject near and dear to my heart! I’d be so grateful to hear from you in the comments below!