Self-Compassion Changes Nothing. It’s taken me nearly 12 months to discover something. I was trying to trick myself with this self-compassion project. Yeah, I said I wanted to be nicer to myself, but what I really meant was, “I want to change myself.” Whew. What a revelation. I thought learning to be self-compassionate was going to change my personality. Somehow I’d magically become easy-going, a non-worrier, and more interesting (I have this notion that I am boring). I also hoped that life would be easier, I wouldn’t feel things as deeply (sometimes I’m so raw), and I wouldn’t cry as much. DIDN’T HAPPEN.
Self-Compassion Changes Everything. I so hope you didn’t quit reading. I know the previous paragraph might have sounded depressing, but it’s actually not. Even though my personality didn’t change and life still isn’t easy, I do notice something that I think might be huge. This is it: I sense more space between events and my reactions. In that gift of space, I have found tenderness. And in that tenderness, I can say to myself, “This is a moment of suffering; suffering is a part of life; may I remember that I’m not alone; may I remember to give myself what I need.” Again, it’s not a trick to bypass the pain. It doesn’t work that way, although I’ve tried. In meditation practice, Sharon Salzberg calls it, “The Magic Moment.” It’s that period of time when you have a choice to do things differently. Do you beat yourself up for your short-comings, or do you give yourself a break? I can tell you that now, more often than not, I’m giving myself a break.
Self-Compassion Isn’t a Project. I’m drawn to projects. I’m good at projects. I’m organized, dedicated, persistent and will do whatever it takes to get things done. I love that sense of completion. And I love the name of this blog, The Self-Compassion Project! But I’ve found that learning self-compassion isn’t something I can neatly do in a year and check it off my to-do list. As much as I want it to be a project, it’s much more like a process. Now I’m not saying that self-compassion can’t be learned; I think it can be. But it definitely feels more like learning how to work with clay in a pottery class, than learning to solve an algebra problem in a math class.
When I started writing this, I envisioned I’d have a list of seven things I’ve learned. But it turned out to be only three. I shouldn’t say only, though, because these are a solid three. Bottom line, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me.
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Photo credit: George Hodan, public domain pictures