Day 10: Self Compassion

It's day 10 of the #SelfCareShare! We made it!! We appreciate and want to thank everyone who has donated their time, energy, resources, and attention to making this a successful campaign. When we come together, we are able to inspire wellness and self-care in others. 

Today we're talking about self-compassion. 

Just a couple years ago, this was an entirely new concept to me. I've always been a perfectionist, but I didn't realize just how hard I was on myself until I started reading Kristin Neff's book Self Compassion.

In Chapter 2: Ending the Madness, Neff talks about the fact that on some level, we all believe that we are above average in some way, which, obviously, is statistically impossible. This comes from our basic instinct for survival; in our social groups, those who are at the top of the hierarchy are typically seen as more valuable members of society, have less chance of being rejected by the group, and are better taken care of. Because of this fear of rejection, we have an insatiable need to know that we are better than everyone around us, and we distort our reality in order to appease this need. 

Neff describes it like this: “...We skew our perceptions of the world in order to feel better about ourselves. It’s as if we’re continually airbrushing our self-image to try to make it more to our liking, even if it radically distorts reality. At the same time, we mercilessly criticize ourselves when we fall short of our ideals, reacting so harshly that reality is equally distorted in the opposite direction” (Neff, 18). 

We have a constant need for positive self-evaluation, but the reality is that we simply can’t always feel special — and we don’t normally handle this very well.

If we feel that we haven’t measured up, we’ll start to feel shameful, hopeless, and worst of all, get lost in negative self-talk. And when this feeling of not being special is met with so much internal criticism from ourselves, we obviously try to avoid it at all costs and go to radical lengths to make sure we don’t fall into that “just average” category. 

This is the place I punched, cried, and crumbled after getting my first ever "C" on a test. This was the test that actually ended up ruining my perfect GPA. Even after attaining a 98% on the second test and A on the final, I was still left with a B in the class. Needless to say, this was by far one of the biggest tests of self-compassion I have ever had to deal with. 

This is internal torture at its finest, and I was a pro for a long time. I would get stuck on an interaction I had with someone for days, months, and sometimes even years, constantly analyzing and criticizing myself until my psyche was close to unraveling. “Did I say something offensive? Did I sound stupid? Do they like me less now?” I did this with family members, teachers, classmates, friends, store clerks, the salespeople at Buckle...it was never ending, and it was exhausting. 

The most interesting part about this is that I had no idea I was doing it, and no idea that everyone else wasn’t do the same. I was consumed by a fear of judgment, and I didn’t realize that the real menace in this situation was actually me: at the core, I was judging myself based on the way others judged me. And how silly is that? 

The thing about inner dialogue is that nobody else hears it, meaning that nobody can call you out and say “stop being so mean” like they might if they heard you screaming those things at someone else, and the things we usually say to ourselves are brutal. “You’re such an idiot.” “I can’t believe you just did that, of course nobody wants you.” We would never find it acceptable to talk to our best friend that way, no matter what they had done, but we berate ourselves every day for falling short of special. 

The first time I used cannabis, that critical voice inside my head got a little nicer and quieter. 

I had grown up believing and even preaching the DARE principles, so I was honestly expecting an out-of-control, unpleasant experience, but it was far from either of those things. I felt like being high actually gave me control over my mind for the first time in my human existence, and I realized that for 20 years, I hadn’t truly been in control at all. My happiness had been dependent on the way everyone around me was feeling, and my mind was so afraid of negative judgment that it created a miserable reality filled with people who were mad at me, didn’t like me, and were sometimes out to get me. In my moment of clarity sparked by cannabis, I realized this wasn’t true at all. 

The feeling of control over my life only lasted while I was high. 

It was like a little glimpse into what life could be like, but because of the negative stigma associated with being high, I convinced myself that feeling on top of the world like that was just a side effect meant to be indulged in but not lived in. At the end of the day, I always had to go back to reality.

When I get especially down, I'll give myself a hug. It may sound silly, but damn does it feel good. Showing yourself love through touch can be just as if not more effective than positive self-talk. 

It wasn’t until I read Neff’s book that I realized what cannabis was really doing for me was shutting off all the negative self-talk that usually flooded my mind. 

Neff does an incredible job of describing this internal conflict we all struggle with and bringing attention to the subconscious things we’ve trained ourselves to do so that we can break our old patterns, including the way we talk to ourselves. It was while reading this that I realized there’s a fundamental difference in the way I talk to myself when looking in the mirror if I’m “high” vs “sober.” 

When I’m high, I’ll just stare into the mirror and observe the way I look if I make this face or turn my body that way. I find myself fascinating and entertaining, and I love watching myself. On the other hand, if I’m not medicated, I’ll usually avoid the mirror if possible — it’s only used for making sure I look “presentable.” I’ll fix my underwear a thousand times to hide that muffin top, do one more shot of hairspray to get that fly-away under control, or check with festering paranoia that my makeup hasn’t yet smudged. 

After I realized that what I loved so much about using cannabis was that it softened the way I thought about myself, I was able to start consciously implementing new habits to bring that state of mind into my reality. But this wasn’t easy, especially at first. I had 21 years of hard-wiring to repattern, and even 3 years later, I wouldn’t say that I’ve got this down. It’s a daily practice, and there is always room for improvement. Some days are better than others. 

Your reality is something you create for yourself, out of your own mind, molded by your own unique experiences. 

Cannabis offered me a glimpse into an alternate possible reality, and it was one where I was happy and light and excited about life instead of constantly dreading it. It gave me a new best friend in myself, which is the best type of friendship one could possibly have; no one knows what you need better than you do. It taught me how to be nice to myself and love myself unconditionally, giving me the courage to take risks that I never would have dreamed of in the past. 

Even though I’m working on permanently manifesting this feeling into my reality, sometimes I need to take a break from the exhausting task and let my mind be there on its own through using cannabis. Living in this fluid and effortless reality for a while reminds me of the joy that is possible and the ease my mind can attain if I allow it. It lets me love myself wholly for even just a little bit, without distractions from the imperfections in my life. 

Remember to be your own best friend. 

At the end of the day, the only thing you have in this world is yourself. Remember to take care of your body. Remember to speak softly and with compassion in your mind. Treat yourself as you would your best friend, with the utmost respect and gratitude for everything they do in life. 

 

Source: Neff, Kristin. Self-compassion: Stop Beating Yourself up and Leave Insecurity behind. New York: William Morrow, 2011. Print.


Things to Check Out

We'll be reading our love letters aloud later today! Be sure to check the blog and Facebook Live :)

Today's Challenge

Write a love letter to yourself. It may sound odd but trust us, it feels so damn good. If you need a little something to get you going, try reflecting on these questions:

  1. Did I learn anything new about myself during the #SelfCareShare? What?
  2. In what ways am I most likely to hold tension? Where in my body does that anxiety/tension/fear manifest?
  3. What are three ways I can improve your daily self-care practice?
  4. All changes take a little time and effort to become habits. How am I going to take the first baby-step into transitioning into this new daily self-care habit? 

Share an image, excerpt, or any other piece of your self-compassion for a chance to be entered into our final giveaway contest, ending at midnight tonight! 

Thank you again.

Without your support and participation, we never would have been able to pull this off. When we come together to encourage self-care about our own self-care, we invite others to. You all helped us present cannabis in a normalized, positive light 

Special Thanks to our Partners

When it comes down to it, we're just a couple of Missouri girls who have adored these brands' products for months. We cannot be more grateful for their donations to the giveaway baskets and all their support these past 10 days so that we could have the opportunity to reach an even larger audience and educate about the benefits of nationally legal CBD products. 

Be sure to check out each of their pages for specific recommendations on how to incorporate their products into your self-care routine! 


Copyright © 2016 Kristen Williams, All Rights Reserved