For some, divorce is a bump in the road. To others, it is a trauma that knocks them to the floor. Regardless, divorce is painful and there is no way around that. Practicing self-compassion is a healing and useful tool to help you move through your divorce without pointing fingers, while boosting your self-esteem.
Self-compassion is about making healthy changes in your life because you care about yourself and want what is best for you. It is about accepting all your faults, challenges and weaknesses without judging or criticizing yourself. It is realizing that no one is perfect and accepting your strengths and weaknesses.
I believe self-compassion entails three core components. First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than critical and judgmental. Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling we are not alone rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering. Third, it requires mindfulness—that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it. These three elements are essential to be truly self-compassionate.
There is no relationship more important than the one you have with yourself. Negative self-talk causes us to have a more destructive relationship with ourselves than we do with other people. We get to be understanding, kind, and gentle with ourselves as we would others. And it is okay to feel grief, pain, and hurt. Any time a negative thought pops into your mind, observe it for what it is – a negative thought – not reality. So make an intentional effort to shift to words of kindness.
Another component to self-compassion is “common humanity,” which is the recognition that you are not alone in your suffering. Many of us feel isolated and lonely when we’re struggling. We often feel like we are the only ones who make mistakes, experience rejection, grieve for a loss, or fail at something we so badly want to achieve. The next time you feel this way, remind yourself that life’s struggles are a part of the shared human experience. You are not alone.
Mindfulness is another key component of self-compassion because as you become aware of your emotions and thoughts, you learn to observe the world around you rather than judge. We learn to accept the moment and our situation as it is, and to not suppress any feelings, thoughts, or emotions we feel in the present moment. Recognize that it is a moment of suffering, which is a part of life.
Self-compassion can help you get through your divorce without blaming yourself or allowing stress and anxiety to take over. It allows us to acknowledge where we are so we can begin to have inner peace. And begin to get comfortable being a compassionate messy human.