Alisha and I met first through an online blog we both read. We had an opportunity to meet in person several years ago. She, her mom and I indulged in burgers and fries, and shared some of our stories. Since then, Alisha and I have stayed in touch. She’s my friend, and I’ve watched from the bloglines as she’s matured from teenager to college woman. Her dreams are big, her soul is deep and her emails in my inbox touch me, every single time. I’m so glad she joined me on the blog today.
The definition of compassion is literally to suffer together. It is a concern and sympathy for the misfortunes of others. Now self-compassion is the act of extending compassion towards yourself.
Remember those report cards you would bring home in elementary school, where the teacher would tell your mom and dad everything you were doing well, along with everything you were struggling with? I do. Actually I don’t remember much about those cards but I do remember everyone seemed to remark on how compassionate I was. Even now I have a thing for the outcasts, the people who believed they can’t be loved, and the ones who don’t fit. Maybe because I never fit.
I’ve never really struggled with compassion. Okay, scratch that. I’ve never really struggled with compassion directed at other people. The person I show the least amount of compassion and leniency and acceptance with is myself.
I keep this picture by my bed, and it’s of me when I was around two-years-old. Sometimes I look at that picture, and I think of that little girl and I wonder if I would ever treat her how I treat myself now. Would I get angry at her for not accomplishing enough? Would I yell at her for needing someone to be with her? Would I deny her things she needs because I feel like she doesn’t deserve them? Of course that sounds crazy. Why would anyone do that to a child? I would never do that to another human being.
But I do. I do it to myself every single day. And by acting like that towards myself I am denying compassion and kindness to the very person who needs it the most. Me.
By not being willing to extend compassion to myself, and holding myself to a higher standard, I am putting myself in a position I was never meant to be. I was never meant to be superwoman, and I’m not supposed to have it all together. I am human, same as you, same as them, and by extending compassion to others but not to myself I am putting myself in a position I was supposed to be in. By refusing to extend compassion to myself I am, in a way, also denying compassion to the world.
Sometimes, self-compassion looks a lot like staying in my pajamas all day and listening to poems and drinking coffee. Sometimes self-compassion looks like showing up for my spiritual practice, or being fully present. A lot of the time it looks like saying to myself, “I see you. I know. What you feel is okay. I’m here.” It’s accepting what I have, and where I am on this journey.
Compassion starts with you. It starts with me. It is happening every day and I want to be a part of it. I want to invite it into my body and let it change the way I see myself and change the way I see the world.
Alisha is an 18-year-old college student, a writer, and a believer in magic. She believes in story telling, love, making mistakes, and a good latte. She blogs at Mercy’s Miracle.