- Recognize what is going on
- Allow the experience to be there, just as it is
- Investigate with kindness
- Nourish myself with gentleness and kindness
Let's explore what this trance is.......and more about self-compassion.........
Years ago I facilitated a group conversation about compassion. As a group we brainstormed, discussed and defined what it’s really all about; it’s easy to define what being compassionate towards others looks like, but what about toward self? Is that even a thing?! We talked about the curiosity required to have compassion--that the act of being compassionate doesn’t provide room for judgment but instead just noticing and acknowledging. One of the group members pointed out that the word compass is the root of the word--compassion. Perhaps that means that compassion should be our “true north” so-to-speak, or the guiding principle that we keep in sight at all times.
Personally, I started really exploring self-compassion for the first time after reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. I am drawn to her writing about the trance of unworthiness. This trance keeps us striving, perfecting, judging in order to try and achieve the sense of love and belonging that we all desire, but that has had conditions placed upon it. Meaning, “I’ll be worthy when I achieve XYZ,” or “I’ll feel successful if I could just accomplish ABC.” This trance keeps us from realizing that we are worthy RIGHT IN THIS MOMENT, JUST AS WE ARE. (You can listen to Brach’s RAIN Meditation, here)
I recently experienced a “trance relapse” of sorts; I found myself striving and over-extending in the face of unrealistic expectations. I recognized that I had placed these obligations on myself by falling into old patterns of seeking enough-ness. Fatigue was the first symptom I experienced, and what led me to recognize what was going on (RECOGNIZE, ALLOW, INVESTIGATE). The feeling was familiar, and I realized that it has been nearly one year to-the-date from the time when I was striving, over-extended, stressed, and wound up with pneumonia.
This time around, without judgment (why do I always do that!?) I noticed the pattern, asked myself what I needed, and nourished myself with hydration, rest, and a much needed break (NOURISH WITH GENTLENESS AND KINDNESS)
When we’re exploring this (radical?) idea of self care it’s important to differentiate between esteem and self-compassion. I appreciate looking at self-compassion that’s it’s always there for you vs. esteem which may be fleeting depending on ego and some external factors. Esteem can be dampened and self-compassion is always there, residing at your core, and really shows up when you need it.
The word compassion even feels different when it rolls off the tongue---gentle and comforting, while the word esteem feels concrete or rigid (which is the opposite of the direction I want to go with myself and those whom I serve). Compassion feels like a blanket of warmth, comfort, safety, knowledge, or even celebration–depending on what is needed in the moment.
As you read and mull over this, do you find it difficult to visualize what self-compassion sounds, looks, or feels like? Consider this: picture a person you know whom you would describe as compassionate. Describe their attributes. Why would you describe them as compassionate? Are they patient, tolerant, warm, gentle, curious, or non-judgmental?
How may we turn those actions inward, and apply them to ourselves?