How much compassion does your heart hold? I don't mean for others. I mean for yourself. Having empathy for others is often easier than for ourselves. Why is that? Why are some of us either far too hard on ourselves or on a pity pillow? Let's take a look at this for a minute. Compassion means having empathy, love and tenderness. It holds mercy and tolerance with kindness and warmth. Often times we can call forth great compassion for others, their circumstances and their process. We empathize with their struggles. We offer support, kind words and help. When we are in this place in our hearts we put forth an understanding. We find a place within our own journey that we can relate to so that they do not feel so lonely in their struggles.
Yet, when we are faced with our own struggles or failures where does our self compassion go? For some, we get very small and begin to feel sorry for ourselves. We allow shame and blame, guilt and embarrassment cling to us. We turn inward to hide from the world. Yet, this could be the worst thing to do in this moment on our path. We need our "team". We need to allow ourselves to be open to the lessons and insights. We would benefit from opening our hearts and receiving compassion from others. We also need to find a place inside where compassion of self can live. Can we love ourselves when we fail? Can we have mercy and tolerance of our short comings? How can we still find appreciation of the life experience at hand and see beauty in the moment.
It is so challenging and yet we all face it. It is often said that the strength of our connection to Spirit is most tested when we are most desperate or in the most pain. How do we rise above? How do we call forth our tools to survive and be in the moment as authentically as we can?
I have learned that journaling works for me in times like this. It helps me purge some of the negativity. I sometimes just need to get it out of my system. Once the ill feelings and sour thoughts have had their moment to be expressed I feel an openness. I feel I can then change my perspective and make room for growth, kindness and understanding.
At other times I turn to trusted family and friends in my life. I begin my conversation by saying I really don't want advice in the moment, just to be held emotionally. And I let all my emotions pour out. I have a good cry, I rationalize, I rant, I spew and then I take a deep breath and thank them for all their understanding murmurings, hand holding, kind and loving nods of the head and hugs. I let them know how appreciative I am and that I will happily return the favor when they fall down the bleak rabbit hole of despair.
Why are our memories so short? How do we forget so quickly what is best for us in these times of need? Or is it that we are such creatures of habit that we return to those old patterns of self lashing and emotional battery without regard to the fact that we know it doesn't serve us well, but we do it anyway? (Kind of like eating the entire bag of potato chips! Ugh!)
I have made a pinkie swear with myself. I have written across the front of my current journal, taped a reminder to my bathroom mirror, and have it on a post - it on my car's dashboard…"Remember to love yourself as much as others! Compassion and caring of self is a MUST!" And you know what? It is working!
How do you get to that place of self compassion and empathy? What works for you? I would love to hear! Blessings ~ Lisa
© Copyright 2012 Lisa Meade