Today is my birthday. Every year on this day, I reflect on my life and the lessons I am learning. My greatest lesson is “Self-Compassion”. For a long time I did not understand what Self-Compassion was. I saw it as something complicated, unattainable, only reached by many hours of meditation practise, but recently it has become clearer. I believe Self-Compassion is quite simply “Self Acceptance”. Self-Compassion is about accepting all parts of ourselves without judgement, even the yucky parts we would rather not admit too. The poet, David Whyte in his audio work “The Poetry of Self Compassion” speaks of us setting a table for a feast. We invite all the parts of ourselves we like and accept to sit at the table, but outside looking in through the window are the parts of ourselves we leave out in the cold, the parts we do not accept.
My first reaction to anything I see as a failing on my part is to “fix” myself. To analyse, compare, berate, judge myself for not getting something right, for not being what I “Should” be. For losing it with my sick child because they will not take the medicine or the rest they need, for reacting badly when my children complain about the meal I have just cooked not being to their liking. For believing I should be “Better” at everything! Carrying this belief becomes a heavy weight that makes me feel exhausted. We may not be sure where this belief came from, maybe our parents or just the culture we live in everyday OR maybe all those bloody parenting books, but I do believe it becomes habitual. I am very lucky to know some amazing women who are also mothers. Woman, I can turn too when I am lost in self doubt. They will listen to my most horrid parenting moments with compassion and knowing in their eyes as they say, “Honey, you are doing okay”. And, that is all we need. If we can just say these few words to ourselves every time we hear that critical voice inside, then we will be hearing the voice of Self Compassion.