If I were to describe self-compassion in just four words, they would be: noticing, together, with kindness. Today’s post is the first in a three-part series.
"The more you try to fix it, the more you reinforce the belief that it's broken. This simple understanding will save your life.” ~ Jeff Foster
When you're stuck in the trance of self-judgment, there's a great deal of power in your willingness to simply notice what’s happening; to be present with it and allow it to register. The act of noticing seems simple, yet it can radically shift your perspective because when you're able to notice and name what's happening, you're no longer stuck in the trance; there's at least some part of you that has woken up. And from that place of greater clarity, you can be more aware of your choices in how to respond, and you can relate to yourself and others with greater honesty and compassion.
If the story you're repeating to yourself is: “I’ll only love myself when I’m 10 pounds lighter, or when I have the perfect career, or when I quit smoking or ... (fill in the blank),” then you’re stuck. You never get to love yourself. It's always put off until some time in the future when you are worthy. But that's not a true story. You're worthy right now, and you can start where you are. Even though you don’t know how it’s going to work, or how you’re going to do it, you can have the intention and the willingness to relate more compassionately to yourself.
So, in a moment of self-judgment, maybe what you notice is the story that you’re a failure, that you’ll never figure this out, and/or there’s something broken or wrong with you. And maybe you’re aware of certain sensations in your body, and that specific emotions are present. See if you can tolerate (and perhaps accept) that this experience is happening, and be as clear as possible with yourself about what you notice.
You might say something to yourself like, “OK, I’m judging myself for getting my third parking ticket this month. I have a story that I’m a mess and that my life is falling apart. I notice a tightness in my chest, and a feeling of fear and anger.” See what happens and how your experience shifts when you bring attention to it in this way.
Self-judgment tends to grow if you listen to its stories and allow it to have authority by putting you in a trance. You can begin to break that trance by acknowledging that it's present; that it's part of your experience. When you do that, you practice interrupting the habitual way of thinking and perceiving that puts self-judgment in the driver’s seat. And you can start to feel a sense of self-trust begin to take root.