The Importance of Immediate and Sincere Self-Compassion
Self-Compassion practices are effective because they both support us, and enable us to act on our emotional experience with immediacy and sincerity. Avoid an emotion, and it becomes a catalyst for frustration and disempowerment. Try to fool yourself about your emotional experience, and risk feeling ashamed for the emotional experience that you deny. We want to process our emotional experience and accept it to find empowerment, self-knowledge, and direction towards that which gives our life deeper meaning and well-being.
I once worked with a 75 year old woman, who had out lived a couple husbands, and was successfully navigating a third marriage. We were dealing with some family issues and some health problems that naturally come with age, but otherwise she was doing quite well. When asked about her secret, she said that she “always paid the bills on time.”
Being a little obtuse that day, I inquired further about how finance played a role in transitioning successfully through so many relationships. She laughed. “I do not mean, literally, “ she said. “It is an old saying that means I take care of what is happening as soon as I can, and I don’t avoid the stuff that gives me the jeepers.” The “jeepers,” as it turns out, are the creeps or anything that appears worrisome. “What if the jeepers are bad, I asked?” She said, “Those are the ones you really need to take care of quickly. The only thing worse than bad jeepers are worse jeepers.”
Getting Ready for the Good Day
Confronting that which is worrisome as it presents itself was not her only secret to a life well lived. I noticed that she wore very distinct jewelry, some jade, some painted with warm colors like deep yellows, oranges, reds, and royal blues. One day while I was admiring what appeared to be a circular design, she said, “They get me ready for the good day.”
What good day, I thought? I must have been making a face because she said, “Oh boy, I have lost you. Sometimes, I forget that everybody didn’t have a mom that taught them about the good day. The good day is every day you wake up. We get ready for it because some part of the day is bound to be good.” To unpack this, she did not demand nor pretend the day was going to be good. She gave herself permission to have whatever day came her way, and also to ready herself in a way that allowed her to appreciate the good parts when they came up.
When pressed further about this jewelry, she said that jewelry cannot tell you who you are, but, if you let it, it can remind you. She had decided to appreciate and love certain things about herself, and wanted to acknowledge those things when they came up in the world. In fact, she got ready for them whether or not they would come up because she did not want to miss an opportunity to enjoy them when they did. Objectively speaking, she was practicing optimism, positive visualization, mindfulness, and self-compassion.
Have to Make Room For The Good
As people, we often feel like we are destined for bad luck or good, and whichever one we get we need to get good at tolerating or run from it completely. The real truth is that our experience lies somewhere in the middle of all of that mess because life is messy, but just because it is messy does not meant that we should not start each day angling to celebrate ourselves when we can. I do not mean in some kind of gluttonous, narcissistic way, but it is important to celebrate who you are as a person, especially if you have gone to the lengths to represent yourself as honestly as you can. There is much we share in the world, which bonds us together. We all experience the spectrum of joys and sorrows to some extent, but it is our unique selves that allow a little bit of extra light to shine on our experience and the experience of others, and, as such, should be a place of joy and gratitude.
So, as you start your day, devote a little extra time to dressing yourself up or feeding your mind, body, or soul in whatever way prepares you to enjoy the good things that will happen that day. Do not let days in which there is much suffering deter you. It is on those days, especially, that we benefit from celebrating the good moments with sincerity. Pay the bills on time. There is no reason to let big problems become bigger problems or unwelcomed emotion make it a little more difficult to welcome ourselves. After all, they are just jeepers.
365 Days of Kindness. Self-Compassion. Day 87. In the Books.