When You’ve Hit a Wall…or a Window: Self-Compassion

The bird in the picture above is a fortunate one.  A crash landing was inevitable when it came in contact with a patio door.   Stunned and hurting, gentle strong hands fueled by a compassionate heart scooped the wounded from the dirt and lifted it to safety.  The young photographer captured this moment as her dad, who in her words is the gentlest, kindest soul, whisked this little bird away from curious canine noses.   What a wonderful thing for a daughter to say about her dad.  What a profound image for that girl to go into the world with.

This little bird needed a place of safety.  Wounded humans that need safety often aren’t as obvious.  Wounding can look like isolating ourselves, distracting ourselves with games, tv or social-media, lashing out at people who love us, or a million other things.

Life has a way of getting in our flight path and knocking us flat.

Someone needs to scoop that birdie up and set her where she is safe and can rest.

And you, my friend, are the best person to do that.

You.  Having family and friends that nurture you is important but if your own inner critic is mouthing off at you the whole time, nothing they do will have any healing effect.  You have to learn to notice when you need to find a safe place and learn to set the boundaries to protect yourself while you are there.  Only you have access to the everything that lies below the surface of your life.  Only you know the stuff that’s not Instagram worthy.

Self-compassion is one of the cornerstones  of self-care.  It’s being aware of the negative chatter that goes on in your head and realizing that not every thought is true or worthwhile having around.  Self-compassion is the opposite of self-criticizing.  Here are 3 tips to help you extend more compassion to yourself.

3 Self-Compassion Tips

1. Notice the Negative Thoughts.

Are you aware of the negative dialogue?  The rants usually begin with:

“You should…”

“You didn’t…”

”You forgot…”

“You need to”

“You’re not…”

“You can’t…” blah blah blah.

All of those are the same as wounded bird flapping and slapping around.

Not one of those will produce a better you.  You will never criticize yourself to a better place.  Ever.  You can never insult yourself into being a better person.  So notice it.  Call it out.  “Thanks for the self improvement tip but today I’m choosing to show myself some grace.” I remember vividly when I began to purposely take a stand against my own inner critic.  I had done something I truly felt stupid about and I simply decided that berating myself wasn’t going to help.  I decided I would not allow myself to beat myself up.  I would just decide to do better next time.  I can not describe for you the feeling of relief and lightness I felt at that moment.  I truly felt protected and a new degree of wholeness as I chose to care for myself in this way.

What you notice you can start to change.

2. Choose a Better Tone to Talk to Yourself

You can teach yourself to talk nicer to yourself.  Do you talk like that to your friends and people you love?  (K…maybe you do.  Uh oh!)  Choose to speak to yourself in kind, respectful ways.  If you struggle with what that looks like think of someone who is naturally caring and adopt their voice for a while.  If you don’t know anyone in your world that knows how to talk kind and support with love, choose a character from a movie.  Mrs. Doubtfire would be a wonderful choice. Think about what they would say.  Actively replace the critical voice with this gentle, loving one.

3. Set Boundaries.

Remember our bird? It’s a painful thing to hit a window.  Instead of picking up and changing course though, our inner voice will continue to throw us against that same window time and time again.  You will not heal as long as that voice has free reign.  Yet sometimes no matter how hard you try you can’t silence that inner critic.  Here are some ideas.  Grab what works for you.  Don’t just try it once, try it several times before you abandon it and try something else.  Be vigilant.  You can do this.

Decide on Safe Places.  Declare a certain comforting spot – the tub, the car, your bed, a bench – a critical voice-free zone.  It’s a location you will not allow the negative, nasty thoughts free reign.

Decide on Safe Times.    I know a young dad who said he locks his negative voice up at 10:00 pm because he knows it never has anything good to say after 10 pm!  For me, I won’t listen to any negative self-talk when I’m exercising.  What are safe times for you?

Decide on Safe People.  When you can’t see to manage the verbal attack on your own, have a list of compassionate people that you call or text.  Go to them.  Learn from how they talk to you.

Fighting that negative voice can be a full time job but by noticing and choosing how we will talk to ourselves, you get a break from the barrage.  This is called Self-Compassion.  It’s a form of self-care.  It’s how we look after our minds.

What have you done today to look after your mind?

Join our free 30-day challenge and explore a daily two minutes of self-care to rejuvenate your life.

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