Self-compassion is the practice of attuning and listening to your own needs and acting in accordance with them. Self-compassion is accepting yourself in the full spectrum of your uniqueness, complete with weakness, mistakes and perceived failures. It’s a journey to loving your whole self. It’s knowing when to say yes, or maybe, or no.
The further I go on the journey of honouring myself, the healthier and stronger I become. I really want to share some of the deeper explorations I’ve been having in the past two weeks.
If I view everything through a prism of self-compassion it really helps me prioritise what serves me best. (Yes, stick with me, I know that sounds a tab self-interested!)
This past year, I’ve birthed many new ideas. I’ve put lots of energy out. Learning, listening, seeing people’s reactions to what I do, changing and exploring.
I’ve been mostly energised by it. I love seeing people have light-bulb moments and start to see their perceptions and lives differently. I love seeing people express themselves creatively.
However, the world is full of need. There are many with much more than they need, but many, many, more in deficit. Lots of sad, traumatised, stressed, stretched people, just trying to get by. Many more of the treadmill of consumerism and a lust for attention and gratification.
My idea, when I first started my Art Therapy practice was to be less stressed and more present to my family. In the last few months I’ve been quite frazzled and overwhelmed and unfocused on my loved ones. Goal 1, undermined.
In the interest of growing my business, I’d be doing much. I had started to feel like a prune, in much need of rehydration. (This was my actual visualisation!). I also saw others in the same state. I’ve had some close to me in shut-down. (This is the extreme end of the scale, when complete social withdrawal occurs).
Self-compassion, helps us stop, reflect and redirect before we get to “prune” or to shut-down. We tune in regularly to our emotional state. Recently a new colleague said working with youth at risk, “before every shift, I ask myself, how am I today?, what am I feeling?”
Knowing your internal state may be the first rule to self-compassion.
Checking in on our internal well-being
This may be in meditation or in a dance or movement practice or some writing or journaling. If you have less time, it might be sitting in your car before going into a meeting taking a few minutes to check in:
Here are few questions on self-reflection:
- On a scale of 1-10, what is my energy level?
- Name your emotional state: withdrawn, engaged, excited, tuned in, scared, overwhelmed, calm, blissful etc.
Don’t try and push away your feelings. Stay with what is present. Write it down if possible.
How do I manage where I’m at if I’m low on energy and in a highly activated or dissociated or stressed state?
Boundaries are a good place to start.
What can I actively do to reduce my stress? Can I leave a meeting early, stating other commitments? Can I ask for an extension to a deadline? Can I take a walk to clear my head?
On a bigger scale. Do I need to re-order my priorities? Love over money? Imperfection or a perceived perfection? Being seen as flawed as apposed to super-woman or super-man?
For me, I re-prioritise. I decide what focus will feel good for me. I’ve realised checking the energy flow also helps me in my decision-making. Is this bringing me good energy, draining my energy or meeting my energy?
Often, when I realise I’m bringing the energy ALL THE TIME, I have to reassess. You are not doing any one a favour here. Others are responsible for the energy they bring. Not you. If it’s an energy sucker, move on and look for places of rejuvenation and rehydration!
Also, if I drop something because energetically its starting to “prune me” or I simply can’t change my circumstance, I ask where will I re-charge? Usually my family, nature & to music & laughter (now that reminds me of a song!) Please have a listen in a few minutes of reflection.
Note: If you are living with perfectionism, people pleasing, draining yourself regularly with over commitment, it may be time to work with someone to address underlying beliefs that are driving these behaviours.