Self-Compassion: A Guest Post by Carly Boyce
I get dizzy when I start thinking about the myriad ways we all get messages that we aren’t good enough. Whether it’s about our work (the kind rewarded with cash), our hobbies, our art, our bodies, our genders, our beliefs, our community work, it is so easy to feel like we are always eight seconds from failure- or maybe we have already failed- and are desperately waiting to be exposed for what we are. Not enough; not good enough.
A friend of mine had a baby about a year ago, and over brunch she said something to me that I’ve been thinking about ever since. She said-. My baby doesn’t contribute to society. My baby doesn’t do things for other people. And yet- here she is, inherently lovable, inherently valuable.
I can confirm that this baby is both lovable and valuable, despite not being capitalistically successful. She is also hilarious, and I bet you are too. Is it possible, could it be possible, that we too, are inherently lovable? Inherently valuable? Could it be true that we deserve to be here, to feel connected to our bodies, our ancestors, the land we live on, our communities, our languages, our joy? This idea keeps me up at night. I’ve spent years trying to prove my worth to myself (and so many others). I’ve done a few things i feel proud of (I bet you have too), but maybe those things are not the sum total of my worth? It seems impossible.
Self love can feel like a bridge too far if you’re coming from a lifetime of self hate (that sure is the place I began this project from), so I also want to offer you a small reframe of the goal. Self love is not self aggrandizement, self love is expanding your capacity for compassion to include yourself. You don’t have to think you’re infallible or perfect (probably you’re not!); but you’re a person in the world, and that means you deserve some compassion. This world is hard. You don’t have to think you’re the best, but like, maybe you aren’t the worst either? Most of us are medium good, or mostly okay! Probably you're deeply excellent in some ways, and deeply flawed in others; you’re just a person.
Below you’ll find some of the brainhacks I’ve used to find my way into being more compassionate. Maybe pick a few (or invent your own) to try as experiments? I wish you luck! I’m proud of you already!
1. Connect with your body, act like you and it are on the same team (and maybe read this).
Close your eyes and touch your skin; drink a glass of water; eat something that brings you joy; wear something that makes you feel powerful; stretch; notice your breathing; thank your body for taking you through your days, move in ways that feel good, get sexy alone or with others, rest.
2. Hang out with babies, kiddos, or animals (if they’re difficult to access, start with this).
Let them remind you how to play, be messy, be silly, be clear about their needs, adapt to their circumstances, rest.
3. Do things you’re bad at, be a beginner.
This is anticapitalist. It can also be really fun, if you can get over yourself. For me this is playing instruments, anything sportsy, or gardening.
4. Be sweet to yourself.
Does your internal mind-voice sound suspiciously like the person who was the meanest to you in your entire life? Feel free to give that voice the name of your high school bully, or your stepdad, and be like “actually brenda, no one asked you”. Practice saying nicer things to yourself (if you can’t think of any, try these).
5. Go outside.
For a walk, for a drink on the porch, for a tomato from the garden, for a glimpse of the moon, to feel the sun or the breeze or the cool night air on your skin. Put your feet on some sand or your hands in some soil.
6. Start small. (for more on starting small, read this).
When you’re working towards a goal, don’t start with the most urgent step, or the most important step; start with the smallest, gentlest step. You’ll be more likely to take more steps if the first one doesn’t feel terrible.
7. Use how you love others as a map for how to love yourself (also, watch this).
Do you think of your friends’ mistakes as small parts of who they are and how they move through the world, whereas your own mistakes feel like evidence that you’re 100% terrible? Maybe you can be your own friend and try to shift how you think about yourself just a little?
Carly Boyce is a 33 year old white settler and a queer and genderqueer femme witch with 17 years of facilitation and workshop creation experience, usually teaching about suicide intervention, queer sexual health, and consent. They are also a trauma survivor and an anxious introvert. She usually rests her head in Toronto, traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnaabe and the Huron-Wendat peoples. More info about Carly can be found on their website at https://tinylantern.net/ or on instagram @tiny.lantern