Good morning my loves and happy day 29 of our Dry January Journaling series. I cannot believe we are almost at the end!
Here is today’s prompt:
When was the last time someone showed you compassion? How did it feel? Do you show yourself the same compassion? Why or why not?
Self-awareness is such a helpful tool when we are working on healing and self-regulation. Unfortunately though, sometimes our self-awareness turns more into ruminating on our decisions instead of working through them.
If our self awareness is coming from a place of critique, then we are not self aware we are just letting shame run the show. Awareness without compassion cannot lead us into growth.
I first learned about self-compassion in therapy. Because for the first time in my entire life, I had begun to look at my decisions with curiosity instead of shame. I started to wonder where a lot of my choices came from and when I did that - I was able to really understand myself in a new way. I started to have empathy for my past self, instead of pity or shame.
I started to understand the girl I used to be and little by little, I let myself show compassion to the past version of myself and that compassion started to seep into my present day.
I’ve always struggled with anger. Ever since I was a little kid, I would have outbursts over seemingly mundane things. It wouldn’t really make sense - even to me - and I would always feel loads of shame after. I felt like such a brat but I also felt incredibly lonely and I constantly felt misunderstood.
This anger and shame stayed with me through adulthood. I was so afraid of my anger and myself honestly that I usually just repressed any anger I had and never confronted issues with other people. I made myself as agreeable as possible so I wouldn’t have to deal with the angry parts of myself.
It wasn’t until I met my now husband that I had to start to face my fears surrounding my anger. Unfortunately, there is no way to keep a partner that you spend nearly all of your time with at arm’s length. My anger started to come out and even though it wasn’t all the time, when it happened it was explosive.
I finally started dealing with my anger in therapy and I found myself looking through a new lens. My anger was a cry for help. It was a sign that my boundaries were crossed or that I was overstimulated or that I had unmet needs.
What it wasn’t was some great downfall that I deserved to feel shame over.
My anger was telling a story. It was helping me understand where in my life I needed to give more attention.
Once I started to wrap my anger in kindness (not much different from what I do with my toddler) - my anger would soften up and help me find the answers I needed.
Self-compassion didn’t feel accessible to me at first. It didn’t feel like I was allowed to be kind to myself because I didn’t deserve it.
But as I’ve learned over and over again - you cannot hate yourself into loving yourself. This is true of our emotions too.
And we don’t even have to love our emotions, we just have to learn to sit with them. Repressing them will always leave us in debt to ourselves.
Self-compassion helps us approach ourselves with curiosity and kindness instead of shame. Letting ourselves understand our decisions through the lens of compassion will absolutely help us learn about what we really need. We can see what we were trying to find through that thing - that person or drug or job or whatever - and we can allow ourselves to do the work to find out what we can do to meet our needs.
Self-compassion helps us realize that mistakes are not our downfall but our birthright. Mistakes are the only way that we learn new information and grow. My toddler teaches me this best - that girl beefs it 20 times a day and every time she gets up stronger and better. She learns to pick up her feet a little higher after one fall and then after a different one, she pays better attention to where she is going.
Every single fall helps her walk just a little bit better.
Just like every single mistake helps us learn a little bit more.
It is not our mistakes that are the problems, is it our relationship to them. When we shift out of shame and into compassion, we give ourselves the freedom to heal any way we need to.