There are so many times when I need self-compassion the most. These are often the most difficult times.
I got to thinking about this after I received a wonderful question from one of my readers:
“Why is it that during times of grief, loss or disappointment – when I need self-compassion the most, it is hardest to give?”
This is such a wonderful question, and you might be surprised by the answer. On the one hand, it seems logical that when I need self-compassion the most, I would be extra kind to myself. On the other hand, the reality is that most people do not respond to themselves in kind and compassionate ways. Don’t you feel better knowing you are just like everyone else?
When we are having a hard time, we are less likely to call friends for support, do nurturing things for ourselves, or talk to ourselves with kindness and compassion. This happens when we go into autopilot, aren’t consciously aware of ourselves and what we need, and fall into old patterns.
Instead, we are more likely to ignore our needs, blame ourselves that we are struggling and criticize ourselves for not getting over things more quickly. In addition, we often worry more about how others are coping, and forget to take care of ourselves too. OK…it’s super important now to not get down on yourself for doing this.
How about responding to yourself with a kind response rather than your automatic response.
Automatic response: “Yes, I do that…I don’t think about myself and my needs, and I just fall into unhealthy patterns that make everything worse. I’m so lame.”
Kind response: “Yes I do tend to do this…I guess it makes sense that my default response kicks in. I guess this happens to everyone, so that means I’m normal. I can learn be kind to myself during tough times a little quicker next time.”
But why does this happen?
Actually, for really good reasons…
Whenever a person goes through a really hard time, our system kicks into how we and/or others in our lives treated us during prior times of hardships. We automatically “know” what to do or not do for ourselves.
~ If those in your life growing up spoke to you kindly, met your emotional and physical needs, comforted you, and helped you think about how to handle the difficulties you were facing, then you will most likely respond to yourself in these ways now. Most people were not fortunate to have these nurturing experiences during tough times.
~ If those in your life ignored your needs or responded to those needs with harshness or abuse…your automatic response may be to ignore yourself, speak harshly to yourself, and/or blame or punish yourself now.
~ If those in your life loved you and felt bad about what you were going through, but didn’t know how to help you be kind to yourself…you may look for comfort and compassion from others, but not know how to give these responses to yourself.
So it really makes sense that when I need compassion the most from myself, I find it really hard to give myself. Join the club.
I’m inviting you to join a new club: The Self-Compassion Club*!
~ It’s not too late to learn how to be compassionate with myself
~ It’s not my fault I wasn’t taught how to be kind to myself during tough times
~ I’ve already been through some really tough times and survived. I can definitely learn a new way now
~ I’m learning to not beat myself up when I fail. Instead I’ll use it as a chance to “reset” how I’m responding to myself
~ I won’t rely on myself to automatically remember to be kind to myself when things are rough. Instead, I’ll come up with my own way to remember (ideas…print this picture; create a note I keep in my wallet; put notes up around my home; or ???)
So…to revisit this excellent question: “Why is it that during times of grief, loss or disappointment – when I need self-compassion the most, it is hardest to give?”
Short answer: You’ve got good reasons that make sense, and this isn’t the end of the story. Instead it is the beginning of a new story, and a new Club: The Self-Compassion Club*. I’m inviting you to join. Will You?
- As I wrote about how normal it to struggle to give ourselves compassion when we need it the most, I thought…wait maybe we could all join a new club – The Self-Compassion Club. For now there is not an actual club to join…except with the most important person…yourself! Of course this got me thinking…would it be helpful to start a Self-Compassion Club? Maybe create a page on facebook…to post encouragement, compassionate messages, kind words to say to yourself…short videos…? Hmmm…pondering…would love your input! Let me know in the comments below.
So what do you think?
Notice what your heart responded to in this post. What made sense to you? How will you remember to treat yourself with compassion? If you think a Self-Compassion Club is a good idea, what types of info, encouragement, etc would be helpful to you?
I’d love to hear your comments below. Please share on social media or via e-mail with others who might benefit!
Here’s an extra bonus. I just downloaded a video of a workshop I gave in July, Self-Compassion for Tough Times. I hope this is a help to you.
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Secrets for Getting Through Tough Times
- Part 1 Grieve Well
- Part 2 Understanding Grief
- Part 3 Be Compassionate with Yourself
- Part 4 Take a Bigger View of Going On