Tag Archives: guilt

Self-Compassion

No, you haven’t entered into a netherworld, this is about ‘Self-Compassion’.  What is this strange term that I hear you ask?  Well, take a seat and let me explain 🙂

When I was in hospital last year, I attended a course on self-compassion.  I attended with the obligatory cynicism, and indeed, managed to get through the whole course maintaining this cynicism.  I was so proud that I hadn’t been brain washed into self indulgence.  Self-compassion is the realm of those who believe they are worth a damn.  Those self-indulgent people who chose to look after themselves and sometimes (shock of all shocks) put their needs ahead of others.  Like anyone could ever persuade me this was a good thing.

Except that now, many months later I finally get it.  I actually get it, and I am trying to do it.  And I’m getting there.  I still feel a bit guilty, a bit self-indulgent, and sometimes a bit silly, but I get it and I’m trying it.

Let’s take a step back and explain.  Self-compassion is about allowing yourself to be treated in the same way that you treat others.  Allowing yourself comfort, from others and from yourself.  If a friend told me they were feeling low, I would drop everything to help them out.  I wouldn’t think twice about it.  I would want to provide them the comfort and support they needed at that time.  If they needed to talk I would listen.  If they needed comfort I would hug.  Turn the tables round to me though and you have a different story.  I would never call for help.  I didn’t deserve help.  I was wallowing in my own self-pity and needed a good kick to get me out of it.  I was weak and just needed to (wo)man up.  No-one would want to listen to my misery anyway.

Reading this back now makes me feel sad, although these thoughts can still inhabit my mind from time to time.  I’ve been seeing a counsellor for years and really thought I was opening up to her.  I thought I was allowing her in to help me and I was paying her to do so.  The payment was important as this was a business transaction and not someone putting themself out for me.  I thought we were doing good work and she was certainly, for the most part, keeping me on an even keel.  But I realise now, that I was just telling her things, with a general feeling associated with it.

It’s only since my hospital admission, and subsequent treatment, that I have really understood what letting people in means.  And when I talk about letting people in, I include myself.  I’ve shut myself out of this as well.  It’s not about remembering past experiences and saying how awful or great they were.  It’s remembering past experiences and remembering how you actually felt at that time.  Sad, helpless, proud, ashamed, inspired, happy, worthless, worthy….the list goes on.  And experiences do generally involve a huge mix of emotions, some of them even contrasting.  

So, with encouragement, I have slowly started connecting with some of these feelings, and sharing them with close friends and family.  I don’t mean just rushing everything out…but if they ask how I am, I stop and think, and try to tell them how I am actually feeling.  And no one has run away from me, or told me to stop wallowing.  I haven’t gone as far as letting them comfort me but we are taking steps in the right direction.  I have to be honest, thinking about and identifying emotions is one of the hardest things I am having to do.

The other change I have made is that I provide myself a little comfort and try not to feel guilty.  I booked a day off work when I felt things were getting a bit much, and spent the day watching movies.  I even made popcorn and really indulged….or at least as much as a novice can.  I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty and self indulgent but I would remind myself why we were doing this (‘we’ being my old and new self).  I make myself a list of ‘healthy’ activities each day, and make sure I do them in an effort to take care of myself and maintain my health.  If I don’t do one of them, I don’t berate myself and wallow in guilt, but think about how I can fit it in the next day.  I went to a jewellery shop and bought myself my first ever piece of ‘proper’ jewellery, just because I could.  I wear and notice it every day.  It reminds be to be kind to myself and start to believe that I might actually be worth it.

So, how does this resonate with you?  Are you a doubter, believing this is the realm of self-indulgence?  Or are you an advocate and implementing some self care and spoiling?

 

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Introvert and Proud

This is a self-indulgent post, and for once I will not be apologising.

As some of you know, I am a bit (for bit, read a lot) of an introvert.  I have only recently started to really understand and appreciate what this means.  As a result I am learning to embrace my introversion and enjoy it rather than fight it.

I had always thought there was something wrong with me, as I would avoid going out and meeting with friends.  The thought of these events would leave me feeling cold and sick.  I would constantly make excuses for not being able to attend certain events and would cancel at the last minute if I hadn’t been able to decline.  I’m sure some of my friends knew I was lying but if they did, they never said anything.  If I did go out, I had sets of rules to ensure I could escape if I needed to, or I would just drink so much I didn’t care. 

My home was my sanctuary and I just wanted to stay there.  Other than work, I generally did stay at home.  The problem was that when I was on my own I felt guilty, sad and lonely, wishing I was normal like other people.   I was in a real catch 22.  Couldn’t go out and enjoy myself, and couldn’t stay at home and be happy.  No wonder I was depressed.   

Obviously, everyone was full of great advice for me.  You need to get out more.  You’re isolating yourself, that’s why you’re down.  Get out more.  Everybody feels awkward going out, you just need to get on with it.  At the end of the working week though, I was shattered.  I would get home and go to bed early on a Friday, spend Saturday comatose on the sofa, and then Sunday cleaning the house and doing some food shopping (maybe).

Move forward a few months/years (possibly over a decade), and you will find me at home and happy.  I have finally realised, thanks to many bloggers on WordPress, that, a) I am an introvert, and b) there is nothing wrong with it.

No wonder I was so tired come Friday.  I had spent the week surrounded by people with no time to fully recharge.   During the week my battery would be drained to empty, and it would take until Sunday afternoon to charge it up.  Add the guilt I constantly felt for not going out and cancelling on friends and it was amazing I could do anything.

Last Sunday, I had a wonderful day.  Other than a friend popping by for a quick coffee, I spent the entire day alone.  Not lonely.   I practiced mindfulness, I read, I caught up on studying, I did some housework, I walked to town and sat in Pret a Manger with a skinny latte and my kindle.  Seeing groups of people out and gossiping didn’t bother me.  It’s just not my thing.  It was so liberating to be myself and do things that I wanted to do and enjoyed.

I have now started to plan my life to fit my introvert preference.  I work from home 3 days a week and have found it’s the perfect balance for me.  I often have to take calls early morning or late in the evening to incorporate different time zones.  Working at home, I simply take a longer lunch and walk to town for fresh air and a coffee.   I always keep a day free at the weekend that is just for me.  If I choose to go and see someone, that’s fine, but it’s my day with no obligations.  During the week I will only ‘book out’ 2 evenings so that I can spend the other evening recharging.  If someone asks me if I’m free, I will happily say no.  They don’t need to know that I have a date with my own company.

The best thing is that I am no longer plagued by guilt.  I value this time and make the most of it.  This is me, taking care of me.  And it’s about time I did 🙂