Heart, journal

Develop Self-Compassion By Answering 3 Simple Questions

If there’s one thing I’m trying to move towards daily, it is self-compassion. It can be exhausting only having the space for the critical voice, the one that tells me I can’t do things, won’t succeed or am not good enough. It’s debilitating, self-destructive and simply, unhelpful.

Perhaps you also get lost in the doubts, totally tangled in the spaghetti bowl of problems you may have created in your mind. In this article, I offer you three questions to help you return to a place of kindness and possibility.

I give thanks to my current coach, Gaye, for asking me the first two questions almost every week as I sit in a zoom call alongside 3 other phenomenal women I am currently navigating through business and life with. Sometimes — actually, always– you will need to hear or experience something multiple times (7 TIMES hits the spot) before it really resonates or the lesson becomes clear. The journey is 90% of where the magic lies. Without the bumpy adventure, the final destination won’t have the same impact. But it doesn’t have to be a painful and destructive adventure. Allow yourself to revel in the beauty of all the mysteries life is throwing at you.

When you’re ready to begin this heart-lead practice, make it a ritual. Set the mood, and a timer (at least five minutes per question). Relax into it, take some deep breaths as you sit down with your journal. Read the questions out loud if that’s available to you. Put pen to paper and just start writing, with curiosity, see what comes up.

1. What is working in my life?

In other words: What are the things, circumstances, people in my life that are making me feel good, content, fulfilled, satisfied? What can I give thanks for in this exact moment? Really tune in to the feeling of gratitude for all the things that are just perfect right now.

It’s easy for things to come and go in life without even recognising the light they’ve brought into your experience. The small, the big, the mundane, the extraordinary. Allow it all to take up space and be celebrated in this moment!

2. What is not working in my life?

In other words: OK, there might be things that are not going how you would like. The first step is to identify what those things are. What experiences, events, circumstances in your life are not going to “plan”? What are some patterns or blocks that are showing up in your life at the moment? What is making you anxious, stressed, upset, frustrated, doubtful? Where is there room to improve?

Give yourself the space to fully notice all isn’t exactly how you would like. Let it all out, all the frustration and emotion tied up in these experiences. The simple act of allowing the feeling to exist, to move from your mind onto the page before you, will shift the energy.

3. What/how can I forgive?

In order to move on from continuing to label these events, people, circumstances as “bad”, ask yourself: how can I forgive? Can you find acceptance for what has come your way? Can you see the perfection in the imperfection? How can you honour the progress, the journey, the path you’re walking, just as it is.

  • It can be helpful to imagine what your best friend would say to you. How can you shift the perspective and look at what you’re going through under a different lens.
  • Another tip is to look back and see what life experiences you’ve gone through that in the moment you may have labeled as “bad” but ended up resulting in something wonderful. Remember that which caused frustration, doubt, anxiety, anger initially, but then resulted in a completely different outcome with time.

Life will continue to throw things your way that may not be exactly what you think you need or want. The challenge lies in remaining open to accepting what comes without attaching to the outcome.

“The thoughts we choose to think are the tools we use to paint the canvas of our lives.”

Louise Hay

Resources

I offer below a couple of other resources that may provide insight and deeper exploration around the theme of self-compassion and kindness for the life experiences that come your way.

A Taoist Parable

A farmer and his son lived on a farm in the countryside.

They owned a beautiful horse they cherished deeply. The farmer entered the horse into a village contest and won first prize along with some money.

When his neighbors gathered to congratulate him, they said enviously, “How lucky you are to have such a remarkable horse.”

To the neighbor’s puzzlement, the farmer responded, “Who knows what is good or bad.”

Not long after, some thieves heard about the prize-winning horse and stole it during the night.

The neighbors came by to express their sympathy for the farmers loss and again were confused by the farmers calm response—“Who knows what is good or bad.”

The next week the spirited horse escaped from the thieves and miraculously returned to the farm—with several other spectacular wild horses.

Again, the astounded neighbors commended the farmer on his incredible good fortune, but his reaction was unchanged—“Who knows what is good or bad.”

Not long after, the farmer’s son fell off one of the horses and broke his leg. Compassionate neighbors again expressed their heartfelt sorrow.

“Who knows what is good or bad,” repeated the farmer calmly.

A short time later, the King’s army passed through town requiring all young and able-bodied men to be drafted into the War, but the farmer’s son was passed over due to his badly broken leg.

By this time, the neighbors brought some food and simply came to enjoy a meal with the farmer and his son. They expressed neither joy nor concern for the farmers current circumstances because they knew how he would respond.

From the writing of: Tao Te Ching (Book of Tao) by Lao Tzu

Remain curious, kind, open to what comes your way. It just might lead to something phenomenal that you may have never imagined possible. Come back to yourself and be in this moment. Just observe how much is already perfect just as it is.