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The magic of Self Compassion: how to love yourself without being cheesey 💛🙏🏻

Tears stream down my face and blood streams down my knee, all the way down to my pulled up socks. Snot dribbles down from my nose and over my lips to my chin. As I sit on the edge of the kitchen worktop I know that this pain was too much to bear for my tiny body.

But then the warm loving embrace swallows me up. My Mum. Her arms wrap around me and she whispers softly in my ear “it’s okay”.

It doesn’t matter to her that the blood has leaked onto her clean clothes or that my slimy nose is nestled into her hair. She's there for me. She doesn’t see the mess. She doesn’t see that I could’ve been braver. She just sees my tears and my sadness and offers me some comfort. The messy business of untangling what was causing all the upset can wait.

That’s what love looks like

A warm touch and a softly whispered “it’s ok”.

At least it was for my 5 year old self. But what of my (significantly!) older self who navigates the world as an adult and has found herself knee deep in peri-menopause with it's "hot mess" moments?

If you’re like me, when you find yourself in a meltdown because the world hurts too much or it all feels too heavy, it’s not so easy to get that same simple love. I judge my responses and tell myself I should cope better or I should try harder. Then it's oh so easy to convince myself that there’s something wrong with me for feeling the way I do. As my mind goes into overdrive, it seems in that moment that other people are so much better at coping than me, and often with challenges I perceive as far worse.

But what if my feelings are valid after all? What if I deserve compassion for the difficult emotions that I experience, rather than feeling shame that they exist? What if, instead of needing to push myself more, I knew I could just stop. That sometimes tending to my wounds is the only thing that matters?

In this post, I'm going to be sharing some ways you can think about love, for yourself and the people in your life. I'll also be sharing some of my favourite practices for you to experience.

Could I be enough exactly as I am?

When we think of love in it’s purest form, without the sugar-coated overlay of cliche, it’s really simple. Love is easy when our hearts aren’t heavy with the weight of our past experiences. Like the pure love a child can experience.

I know that for some of us, that wasn't our experience as a child. We had caregivers who (we can see from our adult perspective) were trying their best but who fell short. Love is an action as much as a feeling. It's something you create and grow. The inability to love unconditionally and accept ourselves can start accidentally with our childhood experiences. In particular with the meaning we give to those experiences about who we are and what we are worthy of receiving. In this way, not feeling lovable can get passed down to us like a faulty gene.

We all suffer tiny heart breaks from as soon as we enter the world. Part of growing up is learning that we are our own seperate person, responsible for our own thoughts and feelings. Sometimes these lessons can be so harsh that they can harden around our heart to create a tough defensive wall. It hurts so much to feel the cuts and scrapes of human existence that we shore ourselves against it. It's a defensive and protective act.

The problem is, it isn’t just the pain we keep out. We also keep out the love that would heal those wounds and the scar tissue around those nicks and scrapes becomes ugly and feels shameful - so we hide out hearts even more. It can leave us feeling numb and disconnected and even lead us to be in relationships which aren't healthy or helpful for us. Does this resonate for you?

How do we find Love again?

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
Sharon Salzberg

Another overused refrain on the theme of love is that to love other people you must first love yourself. I don't think it's as binary as that. I work with many women who love deeply and just doesn't really include themselves. They abandon their own needs and over-give endlessly (often this is a pattern from their whole life). Then, when peri-menopause comes calling, they are often the hardest hit. In truth, I think that's one of the functions of this mid-life transition: it's a reckoning and a wake up call. YOU matter.

Luckily, practising to love You is easier and more practical than it seems.

A few years ago I was on a meditation retreat in California with the meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg (her work is life changing on this subject. You can find out more about her here).

It was a transformative experience in so many ways and in particular through immersing in a particular style of meditation called 'Loving Kindness'. This is an experience of genuine friendliness towards myself FROM myself.

Do you love yourself?

For many years I had a vicious inner critic who was very quick to tell me that I wasn’t good enough (and she did so loudly and often). Loving myself was not an option. That changed when I began to meditate regularly. Not because miraculously the voice disappeared but because my relationship to it changed. Suddenly it didn’t have the power to undermine my confidence anymore because I could see it was just another thought, not some empirical truth. It felt amazing to have finally quietened that voice of "not good enough".

But it took me a while to realise that was just the beginning.

I had disarmed my critic, but I hadn’t replaced it with a more nourishing voice and way of being with myself. That's why Loving Kindness practice was so powerful for me and why I love to share it. It bought me back into connection with my self and that transcended the hurts and wounds of being human. It also allowed me to be loving to myself as part of loving others. There's no seperation, we are all Love.

It's a beautiful practice.

The Power of Touch

Our words matter. And so does our touch. Just as that 5 year old me needed the comfort of a gentle hand and a whispered reassurance, it turns out that we all need that too. Without it, those wounds just get more calcified and we find it harder to truly connect with the people who matter to us and to ourselves.

What’s even more fascinating is that the science of self compassion research shows that not only do we feel better emotionally but even our body chemistry and physiology changes with touch. When we consciously offer ourselves tenderness, It triggers the mammalian caregiving system and releases oxytocin, reduces cortisol and calms cardiovascular stress. Pretty cool, hey?

Be your own lover!

As this will land with you as we’re approaching Valentine’s Day, it’s empowering to know that we can offer ourselves love in really simple yet effective ways.

In self-compassion meditation practices, we use words and touch to gently recreate our inbuilt responses to pain and heart break. It might feel a little bit strange at first to offer yourself words of kindness (especially if you are used to giving yourself a hard time) or physical gestures of touch, but what the research shows is that you don’t need to believe it or “feel” it for it to work.

You can even create micro moments of self compassion by gently placing your hand on your body where you feel upset and gently offering words of comfort. It will help you to not only be kind to yourself but also experience how to dissolve difficult thoughts and feelings that inevitably show up in our lives.

What do you need to Love you?

I love to hear from you, so please do drop me an email and let me know how you get on with these practices and the topic of love. Helping women to accept who they are and move into the future with confidence and love is my mission.

If you'd like some support in your own journey, get in touch to book a Discovery call to explore my Be. Mindful Mindset approach, which combines Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy with meditation and mindfulness. A powerful formula.

Sending you love,

Laura @ Be.

P.S. - If you already know you’d like to gift yourself access to practices that will build YOUR ability to disarm that inner critic through greater awareness and training your mind then you can sign up for the Be. Membership here for instant access to hundreds of curated practices. Alternatively you can sign up for the "Loving Yourself" Meditation Toolkit here (its also included for FREE in the Membership.


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