“Talk to yourself as you would someone you love.” Brene Brown
I look down at the flour I have just spilled all over my kitchen and start telling myself that
I should have been more careful and been more aware of what I was doing. I hear a huge sigh escap
e me and look over at my four-year-old daughter who is now also covered in white dust.
She looks at me and with a shrug of her tiny shoulders she brushes it off and says “It’s okay,
Momma, sometimes we make mistakes. Let’s clean it up!”.
In that moment I realized how different I am towards her when she makes a mistake. And how hard I am on myself for the exact same thing. I am not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination, but I know that when she is struggling, I can offer compassion to her without hesitation. Myself? I’m not quite there yet.
Each person’s journey is different, but one thing that comes up in almost every client’s
therapy journey at some point is self-compassion. Self-compassion is an easy concept to
understand, but a difficult one to put into practice. When discussing self-compassion with
clients, I generally tend to explain it as simply being kind and giving grace to yourself when you do something human. It is part of the human experience to mess up, make mistakes, even fail miserably. Failure is not the important part, how we respond to it is what matters. If my daughter had spilled flour all over our kitchen, I might have felt frustrated, but I could easily see it as a simple mistake and a product of her learning and growing as a human. When I did it, however, it was evidence of how clumsy and inattentive I am. Why is it so different for me?
Having self-compassion in moments when we struggle can change the way we view ourselves and the way we interact with our humanity. If those around us are deserving of compassion and tolerance, we are as well. The next time you find yourself faced with your humanity, I hope that you will carry on the lesson my daughter taught me that day; sometimes we make mistakes, and that’s okay.