When I began my journey of self-compassion, the most difficult thing for me was learning how to be kinder with words and actions. Having spent so much time hating my body, compassion and tenderness felt unnatural, and the only words I had for myself were full of disdain and rejection.
Welcome to Day 11 of #31daysofSelfCompassion.
The theme today is “let’s have a talk”
The only conversation ever going on in my head was just a ruthless monologue courtesy of my inner critic. Unstoppable and tireless, there was always something not to like about myself and it was so tough trying to find the kind words to self-soothe. That’s until I started reading “Self-compassion” by researcher Dr. Kristin Neff. In the book, she created an exercise to make it easier to practice self-compassion. It is a a role-playing exercise, in which you create a conversation between the criticizer (your inner critic), the critized (the wounded you), and the compassionate observer (the wise friend in you). This a conversation that is already ongoing within you anyway, except the inner critic is always dominating the conversation. This is what makes it so difficult to practice self-compassion. Making the deliberate effort to create a conversation where every facet of you gets heard (inner critic included), makes it easier for the hurt part of you to speak and express honest feelings, then it also makes it easier for you to practice self-compassion when you imagine yourself being the wise compassionate friend who always has the most helpful and kindest advice to give.
Notice that in this role-playing dialogue, you make room for every part of you to speak up. Because for a lot of us, we try to suffocate our inner critic yet it only seems to get louder. Giving it the floor to speak can be helpful because you get to hear all the awful things that simmer beneath the surface. All the things you think you’ve buried deep, yet they dictate all your actions.
This is an important exercise because it’s not about beating your inner critic at a game of hide and seek, but about cultivating the vulnerability of honesty, so you can begin the work of self-acceptance and self-compassion. Commit to doing this every time a self-deprecating comment arises from within, or even from others. Let the critic says wants to be said, check in with yourself to understand how it makes you feel, then comfort and uplift yourself with the compassion you would have for a friend in the same situation.
Can you begin the conversation?
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.