I met Amy several years ago because we were going through a similar trial. She seemed like a super hero to me. She was confident, calm and knowledgeable. She was all of those things because she had chosen to develop those skills. I love that about her. I’m excited for you to read a small part of her story and see the changes that self-compassion made for her.
I used to think that I had to change who I was or what I was working
on to match society’s standards or expectations. That who I was wasn’t
enough. I always had to do more and be more. And do and be what other
people wanted me to do even if it was different than what I wanted.
In high school and college I was an overachiever to the tee. I
remember my freshman year in college, I told my mom about all the
clubs I was interested in and trying to be a part of plus my school
schedule and she said, “You know it’s impossible to be in EVERY club
and do EVERY thing while you’re there, right?” (Even though I knew she
was right, part of me still thought I could do it.)
I put so much of my identity and worth in my grades, in my piano
performance, in how many cool things I was doing, that I experienced
burn out ALL the time. And I wouldn’t even let myself go to sleep
sometimes. I remember one night my roommates came back at 3 am from
seeing a Harry Potter midnight release. I was STILL up perfecting a
paper for my Anthropology class. It was already a great paper before,
and I would have loved to go to the movie with them. But I operated
from the belief that I couldn’t have fun until all my work was done,
and I couldn’t be done until it was perfect. So I didn’t go. I was
hustling around trying to earn my worth like a chicken running around
with it’s head cut off. I get exhausted just thinking about that stage
of my life again! So many expectations!
After I got married, my husband and I ended up having some really hard
times and things to work through. And that’s when I really started to
learn that I couldn’t ACTUALLY do it all. I wasn’t taking care of
myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to feel emotions and be where I was
at. And the situation we were dealing with was in a lot of ways out of
my control. So I couldn’t hustle or manage it to make it better. I had
to slow down and start learning how to take care of myself and be
where I was at so I could start to heal and love myself as I was
instead of as I thought I “should” be.
Along the way I learned something pretty cool about compassion. The
word compassion actually means “to suffer with.” And another
definition of “suffer” is “to support, to allow.” How often do we do
this for ourselves? How often do we operate in a space of
self-compassion where we offer support to ourselves and allow
ourselves to be where we are at? And then to be able to see and love
and celebrate who we are? Not enough in my opinion. We seem to
constantly be trying to change ourselves or our situations instead of
being where we are at and making decisions grounded in true alignment
to our highest self.
As I learned to practice self-compassion, I have experienced the
greatest peace and confidence in my life. I have learned to actually
look at myself and be with myself in good and bad times. To see MY
heart and focus on nourishing it and allowing it to grow instead of
looking at the people around me and burying my true self with
expectations, comparisons and lies about who I am.
Practicing self-compassion–actually being WITH ourselves without
comparing believing we need to change who we are to grow–is powerful.
And I believe that’s the most important journey any woman can embark
on. It’s not about becoming someone different, it’s about discovering
and resting in the strength of who we ALREADY ARE. I believe that a
woman who knows who she is and whose she is is the most powerful force
for good on this earth! So no matter where you are on this journey,
stay on the trail! It will be the best view you’ve ever seen with lots
of beauty on the way!
Along with my story, I wanted to share one simple act of compassion
that I’ve used in my journey. And you can do it right now. 🙂 Put your
hand on your heart. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, and say
to yourself “I see you and I love you [insert your name].” It’s a
simple gesture that can be the next step to resting the strength of
who you already are.