Chris was a thirteen-year-old Jamaican boy, who came to see me because he was failing algebra. I did not particularly like math, but neither did Chris, which made us a pretty good match. I would use the old reverse maze strategy to teach him. You know, when you have a maze and you start at the very end to solve it. That is what I did with Algebra, and Chris’s grades slowly went up.
Unlike most kids, Chris did not open up to me immediately, but liked me enough to keep coming back. One night on his way out, I saw him notice a girl his age. He become flushed, and held his breath. Then he looked down, his chest and shoulders slowly sinking with his eyes. No wonder Chris had not talked. He had a secret, and it must have taken all of his courage to keep it trapped inside.
The next time we met, I mentioned that there were some nice girls his age at the center, and asked if he had met any. He put his hands over his face. “There is just one. Destiny.” It was clear that Chris had fallen quickly and deeply. I asked him what we were going to do about it. He said, “Are you crazy? Nothing.” Sensing that doing nothing had been hard on Chris’ heart, I asked him if we could not introduce Destiny to another one of the guys here to take the pressure off of him. He did not hesitate. “No way.” “No way” I could work with.
Self-Compassion For A First Crush
Using what I had learned about self-compassion psychology at that point in my life, Chris and I would work on visualizing Destiny, naming the feelings that came up, watching them pass, and then thinking of some small action to help him reach his goal of talking to her. Our first try, Chris was amazed it did not kill him. He was sure that it would.
By the second week, he was able to do a drive-by-hi. He said hi as he was leaving the center, and to his surprise she said hi, and smiled. Two weeks later, he arranged to bump into her just before his session, and asked why she was there and made small talk. Three weeks of small talk later, the center was having a field trip and he asked if she would want to go on a couple rides with him. At the amusement park, he slipped on a used popcorn container, and spilled a hotdog with ketchup all over his shirt. He was so embarrassed, but Destiny thought it was cute, and used the money her dad gave her for souvenirs to buy him a t-shirt.
Then, she kissed him for being so brave. He was so surprised that he asked why. She said, “For talking to a girl like me. I get so shy around cute guys that I don’t know what to say, and it gets awkward.” Speechless, he just hugged her. Then he said, “I get shy too, but I try to be good to myself. If I am feeling shy, it must be something important, and I want to know about the important things.” Destiny liked this, and enfolded her hand in his.
He was so excited when he saw me that he crammed in every detail he could completely out of order. Putting it all together was like working on one of those thousand piece puzzles, but the major points were that Destiny and he were dating. She gets shy and awkward like him. Thanks to self-compassion he came up with something to say that Destiny appreciated even though he froze initially.
Then, he asked me if I thought she loved him. To which I replied, “No buddy, but she probably likes you more than she did yesterday, and the two of you can build on that.” At the end of his session, he made his mother promise to sign him up for more algebra tutoring. Something none of us will probably ever see again.
Using Anxiety and Self-Compassion To Pursue Our Most Feared Goals
We are all afraid to chase down the things that are most important to us. Refrain from judging yourself for feeling anxious. It is just there to remind you how important that thing is to you. Use your self-compassion skills, and do one small thing a day to work towards that goal. You may not have control over the outcome, but you do have control over your effort. Let your effort be enough.
365 Days of Kindness. Self-Compassion. Day 94. In The Books.