This is a difficult one for me to write at the moment, but probably quite an important one for me at the same time. So thanks for the prompt Kelly.
I’ve spent the last 3 months in 2 different hospitals battling mental illness. Newly diagnosed bipolar to be specific.
Self compassion which I have previously been quite good at has been hard to find in the last few months. It’s hard to not feel guilty sitting in a hospital while your husband looks after the house and kids, your parents and In laws help him in every way possible and even my siblings have been lending a hand when they can. Despite all trying to maintain their own lives as well.
But the thing is, feeling guilty isn’t going to change the fact I’m here. It’s not going make me better any quicker and it’s not going to help them deal with things any easier.
So what do we do to combat guilt? Use self compassion.
It’s a foreign concept to a lot of people. They might know what compassion is but not realise that we need to give it to ourselves just as much, if not more, than other people.
The easiest way to describe it is what would you say to someone else in your situation? Would you beat them down with words that belittled them or made them feel like a failure or worthless? Highly unlikely. You would use kind words in a loving way. You would tell them they were doing the best they could with what they had. You would listen with an open heart and speak with a gentle tongue.
So why do we find it so difficult to do it for ourselves? Do we honestly not think were worth it? Fact is you’re the person worth it to yourself the most. You can’t look after others the way you would like, without looking after yourself first.
I think the most important, steps of self compassion are to be kind to and gentle on yourself. It doesn’t even have to be a bad day to show yourself self compassion. Sometimes it’s nice just to be kind to ourselves on a normal day.
But it’s most important on the days you find the hardest. The ones when everything seems to go wrong, the difficult anniversaries nobody but you remember, the ones you feel like a terrible person, the ones where all you can think of are all the bad things you’ve ever done. The days you feel like giving up.
Treat yourself as you would a friend. Tell yourself it’s ok not to be ok. That it’s ok, and very normal to have a hissy fit or a massive cry. That this crappy day will end and a new one will begin tomorrow. That you’re doing the best you can with what you have right now. That regardless of what you think, you’re just a person. Not a good one or a bad one. Just a person. What’s happened does not impact on your whole life and who you are. Remind yourself that you’re human and humans make mistakes. Remind yourself that to appreciate the good things in life we have to endure the not so good ones too.
Some physical things that work for me when I’m in need of self compassion are to have a cup of tea and drink it while it’s still hot, get chips from the fish and chip shop for dinner instead of cooking, put on perfume, have an extra long shower, forget the housework just for the day, read a book, go to bed early. Other things will work for other people but these are some suggestions
I guess the biggest lesson I could give on self compassion is to pretend that you are your own best friend. Do what you would do for them. Tell yourself what you would tell them. And above all. Be kind to yourself.