Finding self-compassion for the unacceptable. About 90% of people, who come in for therapy have a stated problem, but behind these problems almost always lies the parts of themselves that they consider unacceptable. Struggle with intimacy? There are probably some past relationships that you cannot accept. Have trouble with your diet? Thoughts or feelings that we cannot accept can drive us to eat unhealthy things to avoid them. Have trouble sleeping at night? If we could accept today and the days before it, we probably would not by symptomatic in a way that tries to avoid tomorrow.
In some way, we all struggle under the mighty hand of the unacceptable. Our unacceptable may not be the next person’s unacceptable, but the feelings of burden and shame tend to align us. Here, we could all benefit from self-compassion, as it increases our ability to sit with, tolerate, and accept difficult thoughts, and feelings. It would be even better if this self-compassion felt magical, since our unacceptable often feels like a harsh spell cast from the beyond.
To use self-compassion in a way that feels unique, and a little magical, I want you to imagine that you are in a boat. Put some of the things that you know about yourself in the boat with you. Make sure not to leave out anything that you find unacceptable. Maybe you have to hold your nose or cross your arms in protest in this visualization, but put them in there anyway.
Now, sail your boat out into the middle of this imaginary sea. Stare down through the clear water, and watch the schools of fish swim by. You are completely safe, and full of well-being. Now, I want you to take one of these things (acceptable or unacceptable), place it on a fish, and watch it as it swims past your view. Do the same with the next thing. Follow these directions until your boat is empty. Notice how you feel now that you are rid of both your acceptable and unacceptable experiences and features. Do you feel calm? Do you feel excited? Do you feel relieved?
The truth is that all of our characteristics become burdens, when we feel that we must be defined by them. Yes, even the good ones. Especially, the good ones. While we fear the judgment of others based on the unacceptable parts of ourselves, we equally fear losing that which makes us acceptable. Letting go of these pieces briefly reminds us that we are still there. What makes us whole or defines us has not gone. In fact, it is probably closer to the surface than it has ever been before.
Kindness Kills What The Unacceptable Wills
Kindness over time softens the blow of our unacceptables. Mostly, because with kindness we eventually accept life’s most important reality: We are all human, and thus flawed in beautiful ways. Our flaws are what give people an excuse to interact with us, and love us without fear of judgment. You know what they say, “One person’s unacceptable is another person’s treasure.”
Give yourself permission to set sail once a day, and experience the well-being of unloading the labels and identifying characteristics that you have acquired over time. This exercise is not one of purging because you do not need to apologize or rid yourself of what makes you human. Rather, it is an opportunity to take a break from assuming that you are a collection of things that have happened to you. The truth is that you are not. The experience of this knowledge will at the very least give you an opportunity to decide, live, love, and abide in ways that are true to the you that has been there all along.
Unexpected Benefits of Self-Compassion For The Unacceptable
The more we are able to practice letting these features go, the easier it is to let them go, when it counts. It also gives us permission to love ourselves unconditionally, which by the way will clue you in to the people you want to keep closest to you anyway. Yeah, yeah, I know, critical people keep you on your feet, but they knock you off your feet too, and until you take responsibility for your feet your happiness will be compromised, and there is nothing good about that.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 144. In The Books.