Friday, October 23, 2009

I Cultivate Compassion for Myself

The Fifth Transformational Truth: 
I Cultivate Compassion for Myself

I am committed to a vow I took many years ago. It’s a self-made promise to live more gently with myself; to be as kind to myself as I try to be to others; to befriend myself.

In her wonderfully supportive book, The Courage to Be Yourself, my dear friend and mentor, Sue Patton Thoele, writes of “befriending” in this way. “I believe it is essential,” she says, “that you become a loving and tolerant friend to yourself. Do you act as a sheltering tree in your own life? Take a moment to think about how you treat your friends. Do you express the same kindness and consideration toward yourself? Many of us hold a deep-rooted belief that we don’t deserve to be loved. “They” deserve friendship, but for some unfathomable reason, we don’t. This is a false belief. We are worthy of love. We do deserve our own support and friendship.”

(Sue, by the way is the "Holy Woman" who represents this Truth in my book,  Your Truest Self.)

I admit, for most of my adult life I have been generally unkind to myself. I’ve pushed myself beyond healthful limits to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, employee, volunteer, community leader, and more. All roles I thought I should play in life to be a “good person,” to be liked and accepted by others, especially by my family, peers, and coworkers; to be perceived as successful, of service to others, and a contributor to the greater good of humanity. It appears that the majority of women get trapped in this pattern of behavior, too.

We can begin to be more kind to ourselves by making a decision to start befriending ourselves. Let’s make a vow, together, to be more gentle with ourselves. Let’s commit to treat ourselves as lovingly as we would our own best friend.

I’ve created a “Be Kind to Yourself” list of practices that can be hung on your refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, or your computer screen to remind you to treat yourself more lovingly, more gently, every single day. They’re practices that can nurture and balance you.

Honor your inner rhythm: Work when you feel like it, play or rest when you don’t.

Get out in nature: Allow its beauty and naturally calming effect to soothe you.

Nurture your body: Pamper it with massage, leisurely baths, aromatherapy, loving touch.

Eat healthfully: Consume as low on the food chain as possibly, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.

Move: Stretch, walk, exercise, dance, hike, do anything that rids your body of tension.

Soothe your mind: Turn off the TV, meditate, read inspirational literature, listen to music, engage in a hobby.

Laugh: Mingle with friends who inspire, relax, or rejuvenate you.

Breathe: Take time alone spent in quiet, breathe deeply and regularly, allowing your body’s inner reservoirs to be filled with calm.

Rest: A nap can be a sacred time, nourishing body, mind, and spirit simultaneously.

Connect: Plug in to the Divine as you understand it through meaningful spiritual practices of your own creation.

I hope that you’ll join me in renewed commitment to acts of personal lovingkindness. When we do, we’ll undoubtedly find ourselves being kinder to others, for self-compassion naturally breeds compassion for others. Self-love spawns love for our fellow human beings. Being kind to ourselves may just be the most loving thing we can do for everyone ...

Right now, in fact, I am headed off to a hot steaming tub for a good soak. I'll read for a bit, perhaps even take a nap. I've been "on the road" for a few days and will be heading out again soon, so I am renewing my vow by being extra kind to myself this weekend.  How about you? 

What can you do today, tomorrow, this weekend to renew YOUR vow to be kinder to yourself?
I'd love to hear ...

Leave your vow here as a comment on this post and you' ll be entered into the next drawing for a copy of Your Truest Self. It's still her birthday!

And Congratulations to Nadia, Happy Lotus, for being the winner of last weekend's book giveaway! Hooray!

(Images courtesy of and


Angela Recada said...

Hi Jan,

My last few blog posts have been about this topic of self-acceptance and self-worth. I'm listening to my own voice and my own heart now, and no longer focusing on external voices, or voices from my past. I have become my own best friend.

I hope you have a terrific trip!


Nadia - Happy Lotus said...

Hi Jan,

Words cannot adequately express the joy at knowing that I won! When you first mentioned the offer of giving away your book, I immediately knew that I wanted a copy. I figured if it did not happen, I would just buy it. So to see that I won brings me such joy. Thank you so much! :)

As for the content of this post, I can relate. I have always been there for everyone else but rarely for myself. I have been working on this for some time and finally last night, it hit me that there is no need to stress out anymore.

I realized that despite all the challenges I have had, I have always turned out okay. I realized that part of faith is being kind to oneself and learning to let go. So I am letting go more and just being.

Kel said...

Jan, you got me with the spa photo! My first career path was remedial therapies including the use of hydrotherapy and I always wanted to travel the world on a "spa sampler" tour - all tax deductible of course!

Many years later I bought a photographic book on coffee and cafes around the world. The aim to travel and experience as many of them for myself as possible. So far I have three photos of myself at some of them, inserted into the appropriate pages of the book . . .

it may appear a non-related tangent, but when you think about it, to "spa" and to "coffee" is to give ourselves permission and time for experiences in which we can "act as a sheltering tree in our own life"

to be kinder to myself this weekend, I'm going to spend some time sitting in the sun on our deck with my man, and a good coffee :)

Helena said...

I have to say I do quite a lot of things on the list already. And it is wonderful! Have a lovely weekend!

Wilma Ham said...

I have always wondered why we were so hard on ourselves and usually regard looking after ourselves a bad thing. Now that I consider myself base camp from which I venture out into expeditions of life, it suddenly is so much easier to take care of myself. These mind games!
To stop when I no longer have fun is a hard one for me, as I am used to just keep going.
This weekend is a long weekend here with the promise of good weather. I am going to make sure that I am going to bask in the sun for at least one hour each day and soak up the warmth.

SusieQ said...

I like everything on your personal kindness list. I am especially in tune with the very first one "Honor your inner rhythm." I do that a lot. Almost every afternoon I treat myself to a short nap. It refreshes me so much.

Thanks for reminding us to be kind toward ourselves.

Jan said...

I am so happy to hear this, as well as that note of confidence I hear in your voice. A beautiful journey "home" and I celebrate that for you. Our fifties do bring remarkable gifts...

Congratulations, again! I am confident you will enjoy the book.

These "knowings" that you share here are big! This is such an important journey to know how to be present for others, yet not deplete or ignore ourselves (and our well-being) in the process. I believe it is a lifelong journey (it has been for me, anyway!) where we continue to peel away layers of resistance around taking good care of us--honoring ourselves --listening to our inner wisdom. Kudos to you for listening and honoring...May you continue to be gentle with yourself.


I fell in love with the spa photo immediately -- not to mention a deep longing to go there. :-) Now that would be a glorious profession, to review and try out spas!

The notions of "spa" and "coffee" are vital in regards to self-care. Giving ourselves permission to let down, let go, be. I am happy to hear that you will be doing so for yourself this weekend. Me too!

Congrats to you for being wise enough to give yourself the space and activities that nurture you--body, mind and spirit!

The notion of yourself as base camp is just wonderful. My process is similar though I often think of myself (and other women) as wells. Everyone comes to us to drink; everything flows out from there so it is vital that the water level stay full so all is well. (Ooops, pun!) So I am happy to hear that you are honoring yourself in this way. Others will be honored in the process because you get to give from your fullness. :-) Enjoy the weekend!

Susie Q,
Oh, naps. So wonderful; sacred rest, I call it. I am fond of napping too. So glad to hear that you are adept at honoring your needs. May you continue to be well and wise!

Well, it is Saturday morning here in the US and I have spent the morning doing very good self-care. Hot coffee, silence, Bay watching, a bit of reading my fave new book (Turning the Mind into an Ally, by Sakyong Mipham), and writing some notes to dear friends. I feel completely sated. By filling my own well this morning, I now come to my desk — calm, clear, feeling rather wise — and ready to do a bit of work. :-) All is well...

Keep commenting and leaving me your "vows" because there is a book giveaway! Hope all is well in your world today. Be good to you!

Blissdweller said...

Lovely post Jan. I have been working on this one myself. Today is easy, I get to do what I love(create), but I have also planned a nap this afternoon :-). I LOVE a good nap. xoxo

Jan said...

I do hope you had a restful weekend. Even creativity can be amazingly restful. Inspiration (being "in Spirit") nourishes us on so many levels.

Laura Hegfield said...

Hi Jan,
Yesterday I skyped with a dear friend from long ago and he taught me simple some Qi Gong movements...they are my newest addition to loving and caring for myself more several times everyday!

Sharon said...

A long hot bath is my new favorite thing to do for myself. I don't know if there is a connection, but I have been sleeping better.

This week I made the commitment to have oatmeal for breakfast each morning. It sounds like a small thing, but I've gotten into the bad habit of not always eating breakfast or not eating something nutritious in the morning. Oatmeal gives me a good start to my day.

Rose - The Center of My Self said...

I'm a bit late to reply ... or perhaps I'm really just on time for my inner rhythm right now. ;-D

Being unemployed for so many months now has really given me the luxury to do so much more of these; what a blessing to have this time. With no job to go to, I'm operating on my own rhythm. (I'm glad you didn't say time; "time" feels like an artificial concept to me.) Because I'm on a strict budget, I'm buying fresh food instead of eating out or grabbing something quickly that's usually unhealthy. I practice pranayama before I head out for my morning walk.

There's still more I can do, though, to practice personal lovingkindness and I greatly appreciate both the reminder and the list of beautiful ways to practice.