My Struggle With Self-Compassion.

So, let’s go back a bit. Last month we looked at responsibility. On my journey, I’ve had to learn that taking responsibility is not the same as blame. When something doesn’t go the way we intended it to, we often feel blame and guilt when we try to take responsibility. So we are used to experiencing these meanings as interchangeable. However, blame and responsibility are different. And that difference is crucial. Two of the most significant differences between them are your ability to be compassionate and your ability to move on. Self-compassion is challenging and near darn impossible when you are also blaming yourself. Think about it, when you blame yourself, what feelings come along with that? For me, it’s guilt, shame, and embarrassment. A vicious cycle that keeps me stagnant, and ironically, that is when compassion is needed most.  

To me, compassion is allowing yourself to sympathize with the misfortune of your current situation. It is acknowledging that things did not go according to plan and moving through your disappointment. When I allow myself to be compassionate for my prior decisions, I can focus on finding solutions. “Jamie, how does that work?” you ask. Well, here’s my 5 cents. It’s my way of looking at the world, and if it resonates with you, great. If it doesn’t, that’s great too. It’s your 5 cents now, so do with it what you may. My goal is to give you a different perspective, my perspective, on being compassionate towards yourself.

Self-compassion is super challenging. I know because I’ve been there, and here’s the perfect example. I was married at a point in time, and by far, the divorce was one of the most challenging situations I’ve ever faced in my life. For months, I blamed myself for my marriage ending. And what was I thinking during this time? “I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t financially stable enough. I, nor a relationship with me was worth the effort.” This blame, shame and guilt I felt couldn’t allow me to be self-compassionate. How could I possibly show myself compassion when I was so focused on blaming myself for the outcome? I couldn’t. 

That blame I put on myself didn’t allow me to focus on the choices I had before me. Now, was I to blame for my marriage ending? Of course not, but she wasn’t either. Who was responsible? It doesn’t matter. It ended, and I believe we both did the best we could. I was responsible for the decisions to come. And the choices I needed to make needed to answer the ultimate question, “What am I going to do now?”. And answering that question was A LOT easier when I took responsibility for how I could influence the next outcome without blaming me for the current outcome. This realization allowed me to understand compassion. I was finally able to feel disappointment without blame and feeling stagnant. I was able to empathize with my situation. But more importantly, I was ready to move forward. Although it took me months after my marriage ended to understand this, this was a profound moment.

Now, translate this to when you’ve tried to lose weight or eat healthier, and it didn’t go according to plan. You look in the mirror and still see the person you’ve been trying so hard to change. I know just how disappointing and discouraging that is—and showing compassion at that time, ha! That can feel damn near impossible. However, irrespective of your choices and your best intentions, I’ve learnt that all you can do is influence the outcome by doing the best you can because there is never a guarantee that you will achieve the desired result. And with goals that take time, this is especially true. The longer it takes, the more challenging the decision-making process.

Here’s the truth, though. You can only do your best with what you have and what you know. And when the outcome doesn’t go according to plan, you are responsible for your decisions, the decisions that helped you get there, and the ones that will help get you out. So, acknowledge what happened, your disappointment and your frustrations. But more importantly, recognize your desire to change and the current challenges you’re facing. That process, my friends, is what it means for me to show myself compassion.

I could give you countless situations where I could have been more self-compassionate, and I’m sure you have a few of your own. However, here are some things I’d like you to remember when you’re looking in the mirror, ready to spew that toxic talk of everything you did wrong and could have done better:

  1. Hindsight is always. 20/20. You don’t know it all, and you never will. Learn as you grow, and make better decisions along the way.
  2. Compassion acknowledges your journey’s challenges and the disappointment you feel.
  3. Could have, should have, would have – you didn’t. Compassion doesn’t fault you for it not working. It recognizes what didn’t work and doesn’t judge you for it.
  4. You are disappointed and responsible, but you are doing the best you can with what you have. No one can blame you for that.
  5. Forget the blame game and focus on finding solutions. Take responsibility but show compassion.

So, how do I show self-compassion? I do my utmost best to recognize when I’m berating myself, and I can’t move forward. I take a deep breath, and I acknowledge that I did nothing wrong. I just didn’t get the result I wanted. And then I say to myself, “This F%&#ing sucks!”. I sit with my feelings of disappointment, and when the tears fall, I don’t hold them back. I call my best friend, and I share my burden. And before I go to bed, I hop in the shower, get into the fetal position, and I say to myself, “So, what’s done is done. What am I going to do now?”

We can be some of our own harshest critics when things don’t go according to plan. And although there is no quick fix, self-compassion is crucial to walking your journey successfully. I wish you good health, happiness, and fulfillment! From your mindset to your lifestyle to your nutrition, take responsibility, but show yourself compassion because I don’t care what anyone says; you deserve it.  

And remember, to live your best life, health and fitness are not optional, but neither is it a one-size-fits-all solution. You must find what works for you, and I’m here to help you if you want.

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