Merriam-Webster defines compassion as: “a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.” Okay, so it is more familiar when it comes to others, but what if we took a moment to offer it to ourselves? (screech…..What??? Wouldn’t that be selfish????)
Well, talking about “selfishness” is a whole other blog post (or 10). But, let’s let go of the culture-induced use of the word selfish, and really just let ourselves be front and center here. Remember what they say during the emergency directions on a flight: ”put the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST, then your child.” Why? Because if you are oxygen-deprived, you can’t help someone else (wait, no one thinks THAT is selfish!!).
Okay, okay, okay, this is starting to make sense you think, but how do you “offer” it to yourself? It’s easier than you think. It’s the same way you automatically offer it to others.
To help you with this, imagine someone you have felt compassion for in the recent past (or imagine a situation where you would feel it for someone else). What is this feeling like? Is it caring? Loving? Empathy? Now, instead of it directing it to the other person, redirect these feelings back to yourself (I will often put my hand on my heart while doing this for myself). If it’s challenging to imagine doing this, then imagine someone is in the room with you and they are directing their compassion to you.
What is it like to feel this compassion? If you are doing it right, it should feel pretty good. It may feel like a weight is lifting off your shoulders, anxiety is easing, you’re taking a deep breath and knowing everything is okay.
Offering yourself compassion allows these truths:
- Who you are in this moment is enough.
- You are lovable in this moment without being perfect.
- You find yourself feeling peace and acceptance of what is currently happening.
Okay, we aren’t done with compassion. This is step 1. For some of you, this idea will be radical, but, trust me, it is life changing. The impact of this simple act will change your life in an amazing way.
If you allow it to :)
Image credit: Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance by Tom Waterhouse via Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0