Self-Compassion has many intriguing vehicles, but the dog is perhaps the most captivating of them all. In all of us, lies a fighter. It is the part of us that cries out at injustice, that desires to be free from suffering, that manifests as stress, frustration, anger, or even a verbal outburst, when our well-being is being taken for granted. When we become too tired or too reticent to speak out against such harm or persuade ourselves to pony up, and advocate for good treatment, then we need to rely on our inner fighter, our dog. We need to feed this dog by appreciating the anxiety, frustration, and anger that arises, when we are mistreated, and even the outbursts that cause those who would harm us to think twice about their actions.
Misunderstanding The Dog
We often misunderstand anger, anxiety, frustration, and infrequent outbursts as lesser qualities. We see them as weaknesses that create misery and feelings of failure in our life. When, in fact, these responses are actually our bodies’ self-compassionate responses to too much harm, even if the harm is not intentional. Our body wants us to have well-being, and sometimes it is not enough to gently urge us. Sometimes, it needs to fight a little bit.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating that you take your frustration out on others or aggress people to get your needs met, but I am also not telling you to fall to your knees, and beg them to be kind to you either. You deserve kindness from yourself and others. You owe it to no one to apologize or plead for this in any way. It is an important strength to be able to advocate for yourself, and more important to be accepting of the parts of our experience, while not always garnering social applause, exist to protect us, when we fail to do so with ease.
How To Feed The Dog
So, how do you feed this dog? Notice, when frustration, anger, anxiety, and aggression (verbal, physical) emerge. Notice where they are in your body. Soften around them. Recognize them for their attempts to keep us safe from harm. Reward them with kind words (e.g., thank you for showing up to protect me, or thank you for making it impossible for me to ignore that my most basic needs are not being met). Accept these feelings, and take action (if you can) to advocate for yourself, so that your body does not feel like it has had to show up in vain.
Must Love Dogs
There you are. Feed the dog. Accept the dog. Love the dog. Reward the dog. The dog keeps you safe. Also, make time to surround yourself with others that support your self-advocacy practice and general wish for well-being.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 163. In The Books.