3-21-21 Self-Compassion


“Love and tolerance of others [and ourselves] is our code. And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone…” p. 84, Alcoholics Anonymous

In my addiction I was ignorant, not stupid. I did not know what to do or how to begin healing. Today, as I learn ways to work with my difficulties, I am no longer in ignorance (or not knowing), but I may occasionally do the wrong thing out of fear and selfishness. That is a wrong choice I make; it is not who I am. I do that less often and for a shorter time these days, but I am human and it still happens. Instead of continuing on an unhealthy path, or demeaning myself for being imperfect, I’ve learned to bring myself back to what I know is healthy. More and more, I choose the braver way of compassion and dignity—I don’t act from fear. I am able to hold and relate to my fears and mis-steps with a feeling of loving-kindness, just as a mother would with a child.

“Self-compassion is seeing your most tender wounds without judgment. Showing compassion to yourself is being willing to see / feel the reality of your pain without covering it up or trying to ‘fix’ it. Once this level of self-love occurs, a door opens to the understanding of why the pain is there.” — Pema Chodron

We engage an awareness of what is going on inside us, as opposed to mindlessly being engrossed in and ill-affected by self-bashing. We strive to neither deny our feelings nor to be overwhelmed by them. We can include them in our thought process, and maintain a healthy space—an awareness without negative judgement — between our emotions and our spiritual self. 

We don’t need a specific reason to love or care for ourselves…we just need to do it. We may find many reasons to NOT love ourselves, but the reasons that we should love and care for ourselves are: Because we can, because it’s the right thing to do, and because that is where we begin choosing life over a mere unsatisfactory existence.

We know this is a sound attitude to have, but in reality how do we bring it into our lives? How do we truly begin to feel and maintain a positive sense of engagement in a reality so much bigger than our own little world?

First, we start respecting ourselves in a very simple manner. We make our beds, clean up our rooms, do our morning prayers and meditation, and wash the dishes. We do these things EVERY DAY, because we are alive everyday. We actively help out wherever we can, asking how we may be useful. We do things in a timely manner, instead of putting them off. We show up (early), and think of others. We begin acting our way into right thinking. It takes time and discipline to follow through on these things, but they will be the cornerstone of a full and good life. Thus we begin respecting ourselves, and come to appreciate that previously foreign feeling of being responsible.

One important aspect of not fighting anymore is to have a gentle but strong sense of kindness and honesty in our hearts. We do not fight when we are confident and content with ourselves, and will not let others demean or disrespect that. We also don’t need to fight back when we are disrespected. We can be wise enough to let go of what we should, address with kindness what we should, and avoid what is unhealthy. 

Compassion is speaking up for ourselves when we feel it to be right. Not manipulating situations to get OUR way, but being brave enough to stand up for ourselves. Acting with this kind of integrity may upset others or cause some temporary discord, especially if it’s behavior they haven’t seen from us before. Compassion is bravery—feeling some fear and stepping into and through it. Compassion is not enabling bad behavior from others or ourselves.

Mindfulness-Awareness meditation places us naturally in a more open, stable, aware state. The more we practice meditation—on and off the cushion—the better we are able to work with others and ourselves. Our awareness and courage expand, and we find we’re thinking and acting differently. We find we have the courage to know ourselves more fully, and to choose a better way, for ourselves as well as others.

We know that our peace of mind, our self-compassion, is necessary to working with any situation and having a healthy growth process take place. Once we know what’s happening, we can bring to bear the discipline and courage to mindfully use our tools to bring loving-kindness into our hearts for ourselves.

Even observing all these “best practices,” we will also doubt ourselves and feel fear sometimes, and that is OK. We’re human. When we recognize we’re too far out of balance, we turn back to the tools we’ve been working with to restore our equilibrium. We can also share our fears and mis-steps with the caring community of friends we’ve developed, and trust that we will receive their aid and good advice. 

Our new way of acting can lead us out of the swamp and the muck we’ve been rolling around in.  There will probably still be times we don’t feel like we deserve respect…but that’s just a false, negative judgment. Disrespecting ourselves gives us permission to not be responsible, and to not engage in the world as whole and honorable people. 

When we begin engaging in the world with a sense of richness, compassion, honesty and humor, new worlds open up for us, and we help others to grow.

Be brave, make mistakes, and be compassionate and forgiving about that. Then keep moving forward, by being forgiving and compassionate towards all.

  How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step

The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for

May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace .

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com