Having had the honor of listening to clients for over 28 years, I know that it’s very easy for people to fall into patterns of self-judgement, self-criticism, and even self-harm. In fact, depression, anxiety, and relationship conflict are often exacerbated by self- judgment: “What’s wrong with me?” “Why am I such an idiot?” “I’m a loser.”
In my own life, a pattern of self-criticism has arisen around my need for sleep. I need an extraordinary amount of sleep – always have. And if I don’t get my requisite nine hours, I cannot function well.
Recently, I was in a community theater production of “Oliver”. After three months of rehearsals and performances I needed sleep, sleep and extra sleep. I found myself conserving energy by saying no to friends for lunch, skipping family functions, and avoiding evening engagements. Suddenly, the old nagging voice was heard: “Why do you need so much sleep? What’s wrong with you?”
I knew it was time for self-compassion. When I first became aware of the critical voice, I reminded myself that everyone’s body is different. I sympathized with myself that it’s challenging (and humbling) to feel one’s physical limitations. And then I was able to be grateful for all that my body is capable of. With this foundation of self-compassion, I was able to better care for myself: trust my body, get to bed early, and be grateful for sleep.
Self compassion is your best self-care.