Next week is my last class in Meditation/ Cultivating Compassion for Self and Others. It has been a wonderful class and has given me a lot to think about. The other people in the class have ben very insightful and the teacher has just the right spirit and heart for the class. My only regret is that i didn’t take notes on all the cool ideas that were flying around.
One of the big ideas that we discussed was that compassion for others starts with compassion for ourselves. Whoa. Really? I think that I am like lots of people, in that I find it much easier to be compassionate with others but am pretty hard on myself.
We don’t set the bar as high for other people. We tell them not to be so hard on themselves, that they are good people and doing the best they can. We make a fuss about their efforts and hug them through their pain. We remind them they are loved. But do we do any of this for ourselves?
Inside my brain I think..Suck it up and move on. Everyone has problems and lots of them are much worse than yours. Be strong. Don’t be a cry baby. Why are you always asking for help? Just do it yourself. Quit complaining. No one wants to hear your problems. They have their own. Pull yourself together and get on with it.
I would NEVER say that stuff to a friend in pain. Only a real jerk would say stuff like that to someone struggling with pain or a problem. But isn’t that what the voice in our heads say to us? And the weird thing is, the voice says it and we respond to it and feel it without even knowing we said it or heard it. What’s that all about?
A while back I learned a little about Cognitive Therapy. Then the class on Mindfulness based Meditation and now this class. I think Pharmacy School trained my brain to think a certain logical way. The ideas I picked up in these more recent classes have taken a while for my little mind to grasp. They aren’t tangible or as prosaic as what I am used to in my logical hospital medical world. These are sticky, fluffy thoughts. All this thinking about thinking. It makes my head spin, but in a good way.
My class has had us working on hearing those thoughts and instead of beating ourselves up, trying to comfort ourselves. Trying to give ourselves the kindness and understanding we would give someone else. Well, let me tell you – in real life, when things are not going well….that is easier said that done.
The teacher asked us to make little mantras to say to ourselves to remind us of the love and caring we need to give ourselves, feelings we would not hesitate to give a friend in need but withhold from ourselves.
Some people in class shared their mantras. They were all smart and sassy and insightful. I kept mine to myself. It is a mashup of s scene from the movie, The Help and and old SNL skit.
Karri, You is smart, You is kind and Gosh darn it…people love you.
To be fair, it’s not just our brains that cause us to struggle with self compassion. Anyone with a chronic illness or chronic pain will tell you that people do not want to hear about it. No one wants to hear that it is a really bad pain day or that you’re feeling really worn down emotionally or that you extra extra miss your Dad today. They want to hear, I’m fine and you?
If you are brave enough to share your pain with someone, they most often feel a need to help you “fix” it. Did you take an Ibuprofen? Are you still eating tomato products, you know they cause inflammation! Maybe you should call your doctor.
FYI- if anyone ever tells you they are in pain or about a problem, chances are they do not want your opinion or your quick fix. They want you to sit with them and listen. They want you to say, Wow that really sucks. They want to hear you love them. Hold their hand, give them a hug. Thats what we really need from you. And from ourselves.
You is Smart.
You is Kind.
And Gosh Darn it, people love you.