Bringing Compassion to Your Suffering

Hey, let’s face it. We all get down and discouraged from time to time. But how we handle our discouragement can chart the course for our day or even life. I realize in my own life (though I forget quite often) that I always have a choice to do something either empowering or disempowering.

Being kind to yourself is a must in surviving this sometimes hard-to-navigate world of ours. And for many of us this doesn’t come easily as we often grew up hearing discouraging words rather than encouraging ones.

We are so good at throwing disparaging words at our own self calling ourselves “no good loser” for the seeming “failures” and unwise choices we made, as if it helps us to do better next time when we are severely harsh and critical. Perhaps this gives us a feeling that we have paid our dues by punishing ourselves.

Regardless of the reason, this approach does not work. We just end up feeling even more dejected and miserable. I know this because I was an expert in beating myself up. I was my worst enemy.

I thought I was doing myself some good by cursing myself out and saying, “Damn it, why can’t you do anything right?! You stupid idiot!”

In recent years, I have managed to demote myself from president to about middle management in the School of Beat Me Up. I hope to be totally useless in this department one day and resign.

A better approach is to be kind to ourselves. This seems hard for many of us because we feel we don’t deserve it if we mess up and fail, but this is the time to give ourselves a massive amount of self-compassion.

We already feel pretty bad about our mistakes and failures; we don’t need to triple the dose. We can certainly learn from the experiences and decide to do things differently next time but lowering our self-esteem and self-worth with a barrage of self-criticism for the purpose of doing better isn’t going to help.

My teacher Terry says there’s no such thing as mistake. It’s all research. We find out what works and what doesn’t work. You just make a different choice next time. Our world is a lab.

How to Feel Better in 5 Steps:

  1. Allow yourself to feel your discouragement and dejection and whatever else you are feeling. Don’t resist your feelings. Feel them as sensations in your body. Allow the feelings to be there without adding thoughts to them.
  2. Name your feelings without adding any story/thought.
  3. Recognize your own suffering in this moment.
  4. Take some deep, slow breaths into the area of those feelings. As you breathe in, bring in compassion to the part that is suffering in this very moment. If it’s easier for you, you can imagine a small child or a small animal needing some care and attention. Soften as you breathe out.
  5. Continue to breathe in this way for as long as you would like.

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  • Say Kubo

    Say (pronounced sigh) - Life coach for emotional resilience. Also, poet, yogi, a creative juggler.

    Say (pronounced sigh) is a Martha Beck trained life coach, certified yoga teacher (RYT-200), writer, and creative juggler. Say loves to help people move from feeling stuck to feeling empowered and inspired so that they can live bold, big lives that are authentic to them. Say is passionate about consciously creating a world that is more sustainable, in harmony, loving, and cooperative. When she's not coaching, teaching, or writing, you can find her doing yoga on the mountain, walking barefoot in the woods, hugging a tree, or dancing in the snow.