Love and compassion -- powerful stuff. Some would say they are the most powerful forces on earth. Yet, how can you offer them to others if you don't have love and compassion for yourself? Years ago, I met a doctor who was struggling with dealing with his patients. He judged himself because he had difficulty feeling compassion for his patients and found himself getting impatient when they voiced complaints. As our conversation continued, he shared that something happened in his past that he blamed himself for. It was an accident, yet he was taking not just responsibility but blame. He was very hard on himself. After listening to him judge and blame himself for a number of "personal failures," I reminded him that compassion is a two-way street -- you have to give it to yourself before you can give it to others.
Do You Give as Good as You Get?
It's interesting to me that when you ask someone what he/she wants in a romantic partner, you'll often get answers like "he listens to me," "she's my biggest cheerleader," "he offers unconditional support," "she pays attention," "he prioritizes our relationship and takes the time to nurture our connection," "she appreciates me." Yet, if you ask folks if they treat themselves with the same care, you often get a deer in the headlights look. You want your partner to put down the smartphone and give you their presence and attention, but do you give yourself presence and attention? Do you pay attention when you're feeling off or ignore your feelings in the rush of daily life? Do you listen to your inner voice or quash it and push on? Do you support yourself or beat yourself up? Yes, my friends, whatever it is you're seeking starts at home (the home inside of you).
Making Friends with Yourself
If you'd like to explore this idea of befriending yourself, Pema Chodron is offering an in-depth online course entitled Making Friends with Yourself: Exploring Self, Selflessness, and the Roots of Attachment that begins on June 9, 2015. If you sign up by May 1 (sorry for the late notice!), you can save $90 off the full price of the course. The course offers 12 hours of lecture, two live Q&A calls, guided readings and practices, discussion forums, and meditation instruction. You can find more information about the course here.
A Meditation for Self Compassion
If online courses aren't your thing and/or you don't want to wait until June, here's a free meditation for self compassion. This 10-minute meditation is featured on Somina, a new wellness web site that's overflowing with excellent material, including a number of free yoga videos. If you'd like to learn more about Somina and all of the good things they're up to, click here.
Remember -- the practice of Metta begins with cultivating benevolence towards yourself. Start with you and work from there.
[Full Disclosure: There are no affiliate links in this post. I don't get any kickbacks from either of the sources above. This isn't a money-maker -- it's a suggestion for anyone who has an interest. Enjoy!]