Compassion for Self: What Are You Waiting For?

Last summer, I wrote a blog article regarding my friend, Kari, and her self-discovery and growth spurred by her son, Andrew’s, type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnosis.  You can read about her evolution here:

How to be a Life Preserver

As part of an exercise for a mindfulness class I am taking, I was asked to review a difficult time a friend had experienced.  Kari’s story popped to mind and the rest that followed shifted my perception of how I see myself.  I would like you to try this for yourself.  Trust me.  It is quick, easy and illuminating.

This is an exercise developed by Kristin Neff and Chris Germer for their Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Program.  It was shared with me by Kay Colbert, LCSW, and Alfie Wishart, LPC, LCDC who are using the Neff/Germer MSC curriculum for the eight-week course for which I am a participant.

Self-Compassion Exercise

  1. Think about when a friend was going through a tough time.  How did you respond to them?  What did you say, how did you feel and how did you act?
  2. Now, think about a time in which you were struggling.  How did you respond to yourself?  What kinds of things did you say, how did you feel and how did you act towards yourself?
  3. Is there a difference in how you treat a friend in a bad spot versus how you treat yourself?
  4. In the future, how could you treat yourself more like a friend the next time you have a misstep or feel ‘not good enough’?

If you are anything like me, you may have noticed the discrepancy between how you treat a friend versus how you treat yourself.

When I think back to Kari’s situation, while my heart broke for her, I knew she had the strength, courage and wisdom to overcome any obstacles her son’s diagnosis placed in her path.  Whatever she felt was justified even if it did not match the situation.  I did not require her to be logical.  I did not ask her to say certain things.  I did not bolster her up with platitudes.  I let her own the experience.  If she was angry, I loved her.  If she was frightened, I loved her.  If she felt hopeless, I loved her.  I loved her enough to know her heart would carry her through.

Wow, did it ever.  She is now a solid, true warrior-mama not only for her son, but for all members of the T1D community.  There is a reason I call her friend, but now, I call her hero.

I never doubted her, not for one second.

My standards for myself are more strict.

I give compassion to myself if I am an idealized version of me.  I only allow ‘acceptable’ thoughts and feelings about my tough times or mistakes.

A perfect self is a defeating concept to chase.  I will not be able to make steps towards healing and wholeness if I reward the ‘good’ parts of myself and ignore the rest.  The magic lies in making room for all of it.  I have to make space for my fears, for my disappointment with how life treats me and everything in between.

This is not easy to do.  It feels uncomfortable and it hurts.

The more I do it, the easier it is becoming.

All I ask is that today, even if for a moment, give yourself a sliver of the love and compassion you give others.

You are deserving.

You are incredible.

You have everything you need to love yourself through anything.

You, like Kari, are a hero in the making.

I cannot wait to see how bright you shine.

Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent

To practice more self-compassion exercises, click this link: