Just Have Faith: Applying Self-Compassion to Stressful Days Without Losing Our Minds
We all have an invisible quota: a certain number of stressors that we are willing to manage on any given day. When this quota is exhausted and life gives us another problem, we tend to lose our marbles.
Insomnia, Relational Wreckage, Destroyed Boots, Oh My!
A friend recently confessed to having such a day. She had a poor night’s sleep, followed by a difficult conversation with a friend whose husband had recently separated from her, while they were in a strength training class. She stopped home afterwards to check on a package only to find out that it had been damaged due to poor packing and inclement weather. Her brand new brown leather boots were covered with little water stained drops. She was livid.
She threw the box into her home, and began to work herself up, thinking of all the scenarios by which the boots had taken on their present condition. She imagined a smug, precocious young person throwing her boots into a box, and haphazardly taping it closed. She decided they had done so because they imagined they could not be held accountable for this faceless exchange. Likewise, they assumed that she would not have the gull or the energy to call the company, and file a return. Boy, were they wrong!
She was sweating by the time she spoke with a customer representative for the boot company, and found that she was complicating the exchange process with her own worries. The customer service representative actually got so worked up that she asked if she could take a break to check in with her supervisor. Her actual words were “I am so stressed. Can I get back to you in a minute?” Ay caramba!
These are not the actions of an unkind woman. This same person recently hand sewed ballerina outfits for her nieces that will be in the Nutcracker this month. This same person has taken in two stray dogs within the past year. This same person visits her grandmother, who has dementia twice a week even though her grandmother can no longer remember her name or that she is her granddaughter. But, let’s be honest. There is only so much one person can take.
Self-Compassion For the Reasonable = Self-Compassion For the Unreasonable
This scenario is exactly why we practice self-compassion when our needs and challenges are reasonable, so that we can summon the courage to use it when our needs and challenges seem unreasonable. The gift of self-compassion practice is that it requires us to have faith that the universe knows what it is doing. So, rather than let a crazy couple days make us crazy too, we acknowledge that the universe must have its reasons, and focus our energy on bringing self-compassion to our experience. Sometimes, we will be a little late to this epiphany, but that is ok. If you show up with good intentions on a consistent basis, you will eventually be right on time.
I gave my friend this same advice, and she said, “I know. I know. Neural networks, and all that. Of course, going crazy is what I did. I have been making myself crazy like this my whole life. This self-compassion stuff is new.” And just like that, she began to feel better, which I noted. She said, “I feel better because I talked to you.” I corrected her, and said that she felt better because she finally gave herself permission to exercise some self-compassion. We both laughed, when she asked if she could not have her own compassion and mine. Don’t worry. I made sure to tell her that she could have my compassion for others, but not my self-compassion. It is all mine, and so is yours.
365 Days of Kindness. Self-Compassion. Day 88. In the Books.