Merriam-Webster defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” Most of us think of compassion as something we show to other people when they’re going through a temporary rough patch. But what about you? Do you ever consider having compassion for yourself? Maybe you can have compassion for yourself when you make an honest mistake (maybe not), or for something stupid you did as a kid when you didn’t know any better. But how are you about having compassion for yourself when you get sick, have pain, or are just too tired to do anything? For some reason, that seems a whole lot harder.
Instead of playing the coulda, shoulda, woulda game with yourself, try playing the compassion game. This means NOT focusing on what you did wrong or what you can’t do; if it’s in the past, there’s nothing you can do about it now anyway. Rather, it means focusing on what you CAN do right now. If your illness, pain, or fatigue is temporary this will be a lot easier. If it’s ongoing, or chronic, it will be harder but it’s still doable.
Here are a few ways to show yourself compassion (use whichever one(s) fit your situation):
If you have chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or other chronic illness, you absolutely must read the book “How to be Sick” by Toni Bernhard. Ms. Bernhard has severe chronic fatigue and this book is her journey with chronic debilitating illness and how she came to a place of compassion and equanimity with it. But even if you don’t have chronic pain or illness, I still highly recommend reading it. It’s filled with new ways of looking at life’s challenges that everyone can use on a daily basis. On a personal level, it is one of the most useful books I have ever read.
A few other authors who write about compassion and making the most of the present moment are Sylvia Boorstein (“Happiness is an Inside Job” is my personal favorite of hers), Byron Katie (“Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life” is a great one to start with), and Pema Chodron (“When things fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times” is full of amazing examples of her teachings in action).
I would love to hear how you show yourself compassion, or how you plan to. Please share in the comments below. (And feel free to share this blog with anyone you feel may enjoy or benefit from it.)