Self Compassion

Sarah Rosemary at Sunny Side Up and I are hosting our own Reverb11, a series of prompts to look back on 2011 and manifest the new year.  Please check our Reverb11 pages for details, and join in!

Prompt for December 18: Self compassionWere you gentle with yourself in 2011?  Tell us about how you were compassionate towards yourself in 2011.  Or maybe you want to be more compassionate in 2012.  How will you be kind towards yourself?

Where did you say you were going for Christmas?  My friend PG asked the other day.

Australia.  Melbourne mostly.  Maybe Sydney.  Maybe Perth.  Dunno.  I like to keep it flexible.  I was saying that to the right person.  Where I am an international woman of mystery, PG is the kind of fellow who takes off for a trek to the North Pole on a whim.  I know him through eee, who met him on a volcano in Nicaragua.

Please say it properly!  (I should’ve mentioned that PG is from London.)

How do I say it wrong?  Australia?


How am I saying that wrong?!


Melbourne, I repeated.

No!  Mehl-bun.

Meh-bun.  I tried.  Melhr-buhhr?  Mehl-bun?


Damnit, PG, I thought to myself, I’m not your Eliza Doolittle!

I have no command of accents.  Ask me to mimic any one of the many accents with whom I spend so much time, and I’ll give you marble-mouth instead.  I have a very weird manner of speaking naturally; am hopeless when it comes to parroting someone else. 

This, however, is all to say that I travel at Christmas because it’s the one time of year that I take time for myself.  The rest of the year, I beat myself up over everything.  For Christmas, I give myself a holiday.

In general, I flog myself over the dustbunnies in my house; or when I am too exhausted to do the dishes; or the fact that I don’t go out enough and that I don’t date much;  that I don’t read more; that the dog sometimes has accidents in the house because I don’t interrupt what I’m doing when he rings the bell to go out.  I view myself in terms of “don’t-and-didn’t” — not in terms of “did.” I see only the goals left unachieved; the boxes unticked; the hurdles unsurmounted.  That’s how I measure each year.

In short, I am not sure it is possible to be less compassionate with oneself than I was in 2011.

The other day it finally got to me.  I said to a dear friend: Tell me this ends soon.  Lie if necessary.  I’m usually really good at laughing at myself and I just can’t break out of this funk.

Sadly, he refused to lie — about his similar feelings on the year, or to me — which was probably good, because I’ve been told a lot of lies this year.

Lies, I’ve noticed, are about putting what isn’t into the fabric of what is.  Lies have no boundaries — once they’ve been told, they seep.  They spread.  I wear a necklace that says “no” to remind me to say that word; to remind me that I should set healthy boundaries — with myself and others.  This has the unintended side effect of setting other boundaries, i.e., someone comes in close and asks what the necklace says at the most inopportune time.

It says NO, thanks for asking.  The necklace not only serves as a reminder to set healthy emotional boundaries, it’s also a chastity belt.

I digress.

Saying NO keeps me honest.  And this year I have not exactly been honest with myself about how much I can do, and how much I can give, and how far this body can run.  I got the necklace as a gift the year that I took off of work; the year that I found my missing self.  It was the year that I swore up and down that I’d never again get as off-kilter as I was then, and as I now find myself. 

I’ve said “no” to a lot of things.  But I haven’t said no to my fool mouth saying yes.  And the gap between mouth and brain has left me with a lot of dust bunnies, and unfinished projects, and a lack of self-compassion that might’ve easily been prevented or remedied simply by saying No.


I think a more self-compassionate 2012 will turn largely on my ability to remember to say the word NO.  The word that I wear in jewelry because I’ve been so afraid of forgetting it; of losing it — like a latch-key kid whose mother tied the housekey round her neck with string so it would always be there.  I was so afraid of using “no” that I never bothered to make it work.  Like one of those newly-cut keys that sticks so badly in the lock it never opens the door.

I’m off to Australia on Saturday — few plans; good friends; and with any luck, a newfound willingness to say the things I need to say in order to be a little less hard on myself.  (Please note: those things will not be said in any kind of silly accent.)


Leave a Comment

  1. Oh Lord. I took that Self-Compassion assessment that Sarah linked to on her site. Apparently I am a 4.2 in Self-Judgement. Which means that I beat most of the world at judging myself. Just what I always wanted a gold star for, you know?

    Enjoy Australia. Relax. You’ve earned some quality time filled with impractical cocktails, impulsive adventures and a cast of happy-go-lucky inhabitants of the land down under.

    • I took it too! And was then judging myself for judging myself so much!! Argh. And thank you. I’m excited…just ready for a little break from the usual routine.

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