|My client looked at me, tears in her eyes. She’d finally admitted, in a soft whisper, that she was done. Past empty. Not just tired – way beyond that. “What do I do now?” she murmured. “I’ve all these commitments – I love my family, my busy job travel, my mum, and other stuff. But I’m so tired. I’ve known for ages I’ve got too much going on, but haven’t a clue how to stop it, what to let go of, how to change it. I’ve lost my pzazz, my fire, my confidence.”
‘Sandy’ (a pseudonym), in her early 40’s, doesn’t sleep well, has low-level digestive problems causing ongoing pain and stress. To her self-disgust, she sometimes finds herself snapping at her children and loving husband. Through it all, she’s devastatingly hard on herself, constantly feeling that whatever she does is simply not enough. Even though her kindness to others shines bright, the idea of taking time to be kind to herself is a horror to her.
She knew, intellectually, that her first step was to start being kind to herself. But she didn’t know how, or have the self-compassion skills to do that. So we set about our work. It was time to help her to adjust her perception of self-compassion.
Self-Compassion is NOT Selfish Self-compassion gets a really bad rap. Compassion is understood as kindness, empathy, and a desire to help others. But self-compassion raises the hackles of being self-indulgent, weak, self-centred, narcissistic. This seems to be a throwback to our puritanical ancestors. Time to let go of that one!
Self-Compassion A-B-C So we started with the Self-Compassion A-B-C. Due to space constraints, here’s the simplified version.
A = Awareness and Attention: Allow yourself to become aware of, admit to and pay attention to your needs.
B = Be on your own Support Team Behave as if you’re on your own team – have your own back covered.
C = Comfort Learn how to comfort yourself. What simple, no-expense things can you do to comfort you? Yes, it sounds simple. However, these are new habits and skills being developed – and like all new skills, it’s not always easy!
What Sandy did Next….
I asked Sandy to write down the first three things that came to her mind as being her urgent self-care needs, in that moment. Given the space, time, permission and encouragement to think of her own needs, she actually wrote down many more. We separated the list into different areas of her life, listing each urgent need under separate headings. Next, I asked her to choose just two needs. Didn’t have to be the ‘perfect’ two. Just a starter, and write each one on a separate page in her Insight Journal. Then we set about creating options as to how she could have just those two needs met. Some practical ideas, some crazy, some got tossed out.
I could see her colour improving, could feel her energy strengthening as we worked. And finally we created a set of simple, easy-to-achieve actions on just one of the ideas. Small steps. Checked on her willingness and commitment to carry out these actions.
We’ve kept in touch by email since her session so I know that she’s carried out these and other chosen actions. I asked about the differences she’d observed: “I’m sleeping undisturbed between five and six hours a night now, have started the Brief 5-min Meditation we discussed and even though it doesn’t happen every day, I always feel more gentle to myself after doing it. One of my big things was a fear of confrontational conversations (still is!) but I’ve been able to have a potentially challenging conversation safely with great results; overall I feel a bit easier in myself. My breathing feels easier – what’s that about! But most of all, am loving the idea of giving myself permission to make choices about me. Even once a day.”
Your Daily Insight …… Your Daily Insight may be a question, an action, a challenge, tool or a think-about. These are intended to help you fully personalise the work of this programme in addition to development and learning.
Today’s Insight: This Permission thing is vital. So go back to yesterday’s post, read through again and give yourself the space time and S-C to reflect on yesterday’s questions. Time required: 5-10 minutes
I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this, and any of your questions. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org; alternatively visit me on Facebook: Trudy Arthurs, the Compassionate Confidence Specialist.
Visit www.trudyarthurs.com to subscribe for my regularish free newsletter – you’ll receive a free Compassionate Confidence e-book when it’s published. Looking forward to connecting with you, really soon.
Toodles, for now.
With love, t