I first heard about self-compassion during therapy. My therapist pointed out that I was always concerned about everyone else. I would take care of everybody and make sure they were okay. But what about you, she’d ask me. Who takes care of you? Do the people in your circle care about how they impact you by what they do or say?
Talk about a tough truth to swallow. It’s not that I don’t feel deserving. I guess I’ve just always been the person to who everyone before myself because… well, isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?
Here’s the thing: You can be a caretaker and still be taken care of. Hear me, and hear me loud and clear: Love and support are not things you have to earn.
On some level, I suppose most of us already know that. But knowing this truth, and applying it, is often easier said than done. I especially struggled with this because of the bad relationship I had with food and my body. Even though I was always trying to lose weight, I can’t say I always did it for myself. By changing my body, I thought it would make it more socially acceptable. I would look how I people expected to look (unattainable or not).
This resulted in a terrible inner dialogue. And y’all, the way I talked to myself. Dramatic, negative, and downright disrespectful. I would never even think about talking that way to my sister or my friend. Hell, I’d never talk that way to a complete stranger. My therapist pointing this out to me only after my first two sessions was the wake-up call I needed. It inspired my self-compassion journey, and I want to share it with you because I know for a fact, I am not the only mom, sister, or friend who has struggled with this. And damn it, we deserve more.
Let’s Talk Self-Compassion and Self-Love
Self-compassion and self-love are far more than the buzzwords you may believe them to be. Scary Mommy spoke with Erin Treloar, founder of Raw Beauty Talks, to get a fresh perspective of what active self-love and compassion look like.
“Sometimes the concept of self-love can feel so far away it’s impossible to know where to begin in getting there. Can you let go of the idea that you have to love yourself 24/7? It’s totally normal to have moments of self-doubt or days when you just don’t feel your best. It’s also okay to aim for self-like if self-love feels too lofty from where you are right now.”
Self-love and compassion isn’t just fluff. Honestly, it’s actually hella work. If you’ve been in a habit of not putting yourself first, or just putting everyone else’s needs before your own, breaking that habit is easier said than done.
Self-compassion isn’t just something you wake up feeling — it’s something you actively have to do. Erin explains it like this: “Look at self-compassion and self-love as a verb or actions you take to support yourself rather than as a feeling that you are striving for. Feelings come and go but we can always choose to act lovingly towards ourselves.” Ugh, I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Can you imagine how differently life would feel if we went through it actively caring for ourselves as much as we did for others? It should feel as revolutionary as it does, and yet. How many times have you berated yourself for eating a “bad” food? Would you ever say to your BFF, “Honey are you sure you want to eat that?” I mean first off, there are no such things as good or bad foods, they have no morals. Secondly, of course you wouldn’t! So why do you talk to yourself that way?
And how do we break the vicious cycle?
You Are Worthy — I Don’t Care What Your Inner Critic Says
Yes. You heard me. Tell her (or him, or them) to hush, zip it. You’re making room for compassion and love, which means they got to go. Or at least contribute to a conversation that uplifts you instead of putting you down.
Erin suggests taking small actions. Like showing up for yourself and treating yourself like you would a friend. Maybe it’s time to revisit and reestablish the expectations you have for yourself. “Rather than sitting around hoping to magically start loving yourself, can you start acting as though you love yourself right now? Each little act of loving compassion and kindness will move you closer to a deep, down feeling of self love.”
To figure out what these little acts of kindness toward yourself should be, self-reflecting is incredibly important. Am I doing this because I want to or because I don’t want to let someone else down? How would I feel if I heard someone say these words to my daughter? Would I be enraged, because if so, shouldn’t I feel just as uncomfortable saying them to myself?
Practicing self-compassion and love isn’t about shaming yourself into changing your behavior. It’s about accepting that you are worthy of compassion and love just as much as everyone else. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and replacing your inner critic with more love and acceptance won’t just magically happen overnight. But little by little, you can and will get there. Being self-compassionate isn’t easy, but I promise you it’s absolutely worth it.