Day 351, Developing Self-Compassion
“Self-compassion is absolutely essential for healthy, balanced living. It provides huge benefits including emotional resiliency, stress reduction, contentment, and healthier relationships.”
This morning I am visiting the doctor. The patch of eczema on my left middle finger has become infected and needs medical treatment. I am even finding it difficult to type.
However, let me think of a happier note on which to start my day. Yesterday, I completed several items in my “Little Black Book.” Most importantly, I paid all the current bills. My husband was not feeling well, and I was able to help him. His gratitude for my compassion was almost overwhelming. He also showed compassion toward me yesterday when I made a number of new mistakes and uncovered old ones.
My husband let me read aloud to him yesterday. He seemed to enjoy Mike Robbins’ Nothing Changes Until You Do: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way.
Does It Do Any Good to Get Hard On Yourself?
I have wondered over the years whether it does any good to get hard on yourself. Mike gives the example of when he forgot to take his passport to Ireland with him. His wife had to go way out of her way to get the passport to him. He was so sick over the situation, he was physically sick by the time he got to Ireland.
I had a similar occurrence. I went on a Carnival cruise to Catalina Island and Mexico when my brother was married on a cruise ship. While getting ready to return, I packed carefully, or so I thought. I packed my driver’s license in my suitcase! Thankfully, I had my birth certificate for the customs officer but no driver’s license or passport. I panicked and dreadfully imagined getting left in Mexico. However, I asked the customs officer if I could show him my business card, which had my picture on it. He resignedly said I could. I got through customs. Whatever sparked the customs officer’s compassion, I felt glad to be an American, and the day was saved. Shortly thereafter, I located my driver’s license, which was indeed in my suitcase.
Self-compassion in these situations goes a long way. Self-compassion leads to compassion for others as well.
This week, I realized that I had not canceled my old auto policy after getting a new one. I could not understand why I was getting so much mail from the old company. Finally, I called the old company and worked with a customer service rep who had me email documentation showing the start date of coverage at the new company. Absent-mindedly, I sent the documentation to the wrong email address! I kept apologizing for screwing up, and she said repeatedly, “Don’t apologize.” She was showing me compassion I was not showing myself. At last, I got the documentation to her, and she arranged a refund. I was so worked up about having made a mistake that I made more of them.
Upon reflection, I noticed that the new coverage started the same day we closed on the condo. The day after that, I flew to Utah to attend my father’s funeral. As soon as I returned, we moved to our new condo and unpacked. Not long later, I spent several days staying with my friend Jacque, wondering what my future held-whether I would return to Utah or stay in Colorado. It is a miracle I did not forget more than just canceling my old insurance policy.
Little Black Book
My “Little Black Book” helps keep me from forgetting to do important items, but of course, no system is perfect. The only solution when things go wrong is self-compassion.
I thought our living wills that were on the refrigerator had gotten lost in the move. However, yesterday I found them in a file box. They are now in place on our new refrigerator. I had a few moments of feeling tough on myself for misplacing them. However, let me be grateful that they have not been needed!
If I had been better at following Leo Babauta’s advice to keep my desk uncluttered, I would have saved myself trouble yesterday when I could not find my new debit card. It was on my desk! I even ordered a new one and got the old one declared lost. Now I have to wait before I have one. Again, showing myself as much compassion as the credit card company showed me would have eased my feelings.
Research on Self-Compassion
“Over the last decade or so, research has consistently shown a positive correlation between self-compassion and psychological well-being. People who have self-compassion also have greater social connectedness, emotional intelligence, happiness, and overall life satisfaction. Self-compassion has also been shown to correlate with less anxiety, depression, shame, and fear of failure.”
If you would like to join me on this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One.