Cultivating Self Compassion 

Today is a hard day for me.  It’s my son’s first day of summer camp.  These transitions are not easy for me.  I worry when my son is in a new environment.  

I can look back on all of the other times that he has started something new.  Typically, he is okay.  He adjusts well to new places and people.  It’s ME who has a hard time with these things.  

It can be hard on days like today for me to turn toward myself with SELF COMPASSION.

Part of me wanted to push aside my feelings about my son starting summer camp, move on with my day, and just try not to think about it.

Yet, I did have feelings about it.  And part of self compassion is acknowledging those feelings.  Acknowledging the feelings is just that.  Noticing that they are there.  Not judging whether I should be having the feelings or not, not labeling the feelings as right or wrong.  Acknowledging my feelings is an act of self compassion.

What does self compassion look like?  For me, it starts with awareness that I am struggling.  Today, I knew I was struggling because I was aware of my anxious thoughts, and I felt the anxiety in my body – shallow breathing, racing heart, fidgeting.  Once I am aware that I am struggling, I PAUSE and BREATHE and say, this is HARD for me.  In this moment, it is like I am a witness to my own struggle.  Seeing that I am struggling is an act of self compassion.

To give myself some grace on this difficult day, I thought about what could help me with the transition to summer camp.  I decided to stay at the camp for a little while after drop off, and check in on him after he had participated in his first activities of the day.  I struggled a little with this decision.  Part of me wondered if checking in on him was “too much”.  At one point, I found myself thinking “no other parents stayed after drop off – there is something wrong with you”.  Later, when I stopped to examine this line of thinking, I could see that I was judging myself harshly.  It is actually a very HUMAN thing to have concern for my child in a new environment.  And to want to make sure that he is OKAY.  Seeing my human-ness is an act of self compassion.  

And then I remembered the conversations that I have had with other moms.  I am not the only one who struggles with these transitions.  I am not alone.  

Right now, I am making a commitment to myself to talk to other moms this week, to reach out for SUPPORT – to share my experience, and listen to their experience.  This is not an easy thing for me – to reach out for support.  It doesn’t come naturally to me.  And, yet, when I do reach out, I find out that I am not that different from other moms, and I am not alone.  Reaching out for support is an act of self compassion.

Self compassion is something that I have to keep coming back to over and over again… why?  It is not a habit yet.  This means that I have to make a CONSCIOUS EFFORT to be compassionate with myself.  I have to keep practicing.  

I hope my sharing inspires you to consider your own self compassion.

Remember to:

  • Witness your own struggle
  • Allow yourself some grace
  • Acknowledge your feelings
  • See your human-ness
  • Reach out for support

An excellent resource on Self Compassion is Kristin Neff. For more individualized support, including how your can cultivate self compassion, feel free to reach out to me directly.  

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