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Sprinkles of Self-Compassion

Posted Jul 31 2012 6:27pm

My mind, body, & soul feel like they’ve been through a meat-grinder the last few days.  I let the pain of my emotional life wash over me like contractions, just trying to get through each one without making it worse. I coo to myself, “You’re ok, you’re safe, you’re not bad, you’re not bad. I know it hurts but you will be ok.  We will be ok.”

When my heart is broken I go straight to music.  Music as Nikolai Gogol so eloquently stated, “Music is the passion and confusion of the soul.”  That line has stuck with me since I read it back in 2009, sitting on my bed during my second year of college doing reading for my Russian literature class.

The passion and confusion of the soul.

Is there anything more exquisite sounding than that?

I’m guessing that right now you might be looking at your computer with a “Ok-this-chick-is-kind-of-a-weird-Gogolphile-and-it’s-a-little-strange” look.  It’s ok.  When I professed my love for him in that Pushkin and Gogol class, even the teacher, a Russian literature expert didn’t quite understand my infatuation this particular arabesque we read.

If you saw me my sophomore year in high school you would have seen a 19/20 year old brunette with headphones in no matter where she went.  I listened to music almost the entire time I wasn’t in class.  I hated to pause music in order to write papers and sit through lectures.  I did the same thing when I studied abroad in Greece.  I walked around Athens with my iPod on and a lot of people (I was later told) thought it made me look intimidating and that I didn’t want to talk, when in reality I had zero confidence and needed music to quell my anxiety.  I desperately wanted people to talk to me but was terrified, absolutely TERRIFIED of sitting in a public place (like the lunch room) alone with headphones in.  With music I don’t feel alone.

Right now I’m listening to this….


For some reason I have a different mix on my ipod that sounds better, and yes it took me a while to learn the lyrics but j’adore ce chanson (I love this song).

I don’t think this is the kind of music Gogol was referring to, but nevertheless, there’s something about music that connects so deeply to my soul.  My commute up to the mountains in Colorado when I worked at a spa nestled in a beautiful valley was one of the most healing things for me.  I made mix CDs and actually worked through a lot of painful memories on that drive during the Summer of 2009 and again in the Fall of 2011.

Last night was incredibly difficult for me.  During the day, a friend and I went out to lunch at Panera and then for a walk in the most beautiful place I have found yet in Pennsylvania.  My friend had invited me to walk there before but for various couldn’t join her, but I was missing out.  The scenery was breathtaking and as soon as we arrived I knew I had found the place my heart has been asking for.  I’ve found my bit of nature here where I feel safe, can bring Angie, and soak up all the energy from the trees, shrubs, and river.  It was a great walk and we had some great conversation and laughs.

I so badly want to walk in the water there next time! I think Angie is going to go ca-razy with all the new scents, mud, water, dogs, and people.  It’s Alex and Angie heaven.  And she is a little angel after all :)

Just looking at these pictures makes my heart get butterflies.

The universe is wasting no time in teaching me some lessons right now, and I did a card reading for myself on Saturday and all the cards were about moving on, moving forward, new phases in life, relationships, and situations.  I shuffled those cards over and over with my question in mind so it was more than just coincidence that the roughly 8 or 9 cards I picked ALL had something to do with this concept of moving forward.  Message received universe.

I don’t know what all this means or where I’m going exactly, but I just feel like I need to create.  I need to keep working on my business, I need to keep blogging, and I need to keep extending compassion to myself.  It’s the last one that is the hardest, but also is the most important and influences the other two.

I’ve been feeling blocked up with a lot of fear lately (not digestively speaking but metaphorically speaking) and I’m being very mindful (yay DBT!) of how present this emotion is for me and how it stops me from doing so many things in my day-to-day life, as well as bigger picture things.

What I’ve noticed though is that fear doesn’t really go away for me.  I’ve always been a nervous person and fear becomes a big part of that.  The only way I’ve ever gotten things done and taken risks in my life is by saying, “Fuck fear!” and doing things anyway.  If I try to make the fear go away, I’m really just wasting my time.  Fear is important though because it is informative.  It shows us where our minds and bodies and spirits are putting boundaries. Sometimes we need to honor those boundaries because they keep us safe, but at other times, boundaries must be pushed and stretched so that we can grow and change.

Some people really enjoy pushing boundaries.  They love the thrill and the adrenaline.  As for me, it makes me want to wet my pants or run away crying or screaming.  What I forget sometimes is that I’ve pushed my boundaries A LOT in my life and there is that part of me that wants to do the things that terrify me because they also entice and seduce me.  Study abroad in Greece for a semester or in France? I speak French so I could always go to France so I think I’ll go to Greece (and then my first few days there were spent in panic because I didn’t know the language–by the end it felt like my home).

I’m sorry if this has an arrogant tone to it–I really don’t mean it to.  I don’t want to sound all haughty and “Oh look at me and what I’ve done,” I’m really just trying to give myself credit for trying things that scared me. There are parts of myself, like my adventurous and spontaneous sides that I am still cultivating, and those parts deserve to be recognized as much as my angry or sad parts.

So what does this all boil down to? Oh you’ve read the title of this blog post right? So I think you know :)

Self-compassion isn’t a frivolous, pie-in-the-sky, unattainable ideal.  No.  Self-compassion is a NECESSITY. Period.  It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, how much money you make, how many friends you have, if you suffer from an eating disorder, personality disorder, depression, diabetes, or cancer.  We all need self-compassion.  NEED, NEED, NEED IT. (And some of you are probably thinking, “I really NEED you to stop being so hyper about this, Alex. I GET IT!”)

Today I’ve started with sprinkles of self-compassion because having big chunks of it just ain’t gonna happen.  If that’s where I am, then that’s where I am.  It is what it is.  I’m still learning how to do this and it is hard, it’s really hard AND I find that the more effort I put into it, the more I catch the negative, judgmental, self-defeatist thoughts running around in my head and gently sit them down and say that I can take it from here, the easier it gets and the better I feel.

I’ve also noticed how judgmental I can be when it comes to my needs.  When I’m heartbroken or hurt or sad, I need a wallow day or wallow time.  I need to cry when I need to cry and I need chocolate and fresh fruit, and a journal to write down all my thoughts.  I need “emo time” and yes, I will play Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson (I ONLY listen to KC when I’m upset, because she has great “Angry-girl music”), Mr. Brightside by the Killers (my FAVORITE SONG EVER), Adele and such on repeat.  Come on, we all have those songs we go to.  The one that sounds like it was written exactly for us and the situation we are in.  I know you have one :) It’s ok, I’ve got about 20 ;)

Lessons I’m learning: Give myself what I need even when my mind convinces me that I’m the only one in the world acting like such an “idiot.” Fuck the fear when it DOESN’T serve me (remember, sometimes fear does give us good warnings, you just have to listen to your intuition about it) and keep moving forward.

Wishing you lots of self-compassion sprinkles!




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