When I fell on a hike last month dislocating and fracturing my right shoulder, I experienced many acts of compassion: The good samaritan who helped me to my car, drove me to the emergency room, and stayed with me until my husband arrived; The nurses and physicians in the ER who reduced my shoulder after giving me lots of drugs and warm blankets; The fellow speaker who generously stepped in to keynote for my client, with a few days notice.
After all of these much appreciated acts of compassion, I realized the biggest gift of compassion had to come from myself. It is quite humbling to lose the ability to do the simplest of things, like type, drive or wash your hair, and the physical discomfort prevented me from sitting at my desk for more than 20 minutes or walking any distance. I felt discouraged, frustrated, and downright sorry for myself, thinking, “I don’t have time for this!“.
I realize how irrational this sounds, not to put my healing first, but my experience was how easy it is to be kind to yourself when you are having a good day, and how hard it is when you are having a bad one. When I felt fatigue, pain, and stress overwhelm me, I turned to self blame with my mean and loud critical voice: Why did you do this? Why is it taking you so long? What’s wrong with you?
This inner critic doesn’t help and finding myself in this downward spiral for more days than I care to admit, I knew I had to do something different to support my healing and myself. A wise friend asked me, How would you coach someone else in this same situation?
That was easy. I would ask, How is your struggling, frustration, and unrealistic expectation working for you?
Not so well.
Would you be willing to surrender to your rest and practice patience, forgiveness, and loving-kindness for yourself to support your healing?
We choose what we focus on and how to respond to it every day. Taking a hot shower to begin my day (even though I wasn’t going anywhere), walking in the sunshine, watching a funny video, and most importantly, resting (even when I didn’t want to) were all simple acts of self-compassion that supported me to feel more calm and less helpless.
No matter what kind of a day you are having, you can be kind to yourself. Choose to practice self-compassion, (especially when you don’t feel good) and you improve the relationship with yourself by supporting yourself.
That is the gift of compassion.