As much as I learn the skill of self-compassion, it is so far outside of my natural response that I still feel like an awkward novice.
I had a rough morning. In many ways, it wasn’t all that bad, but it rocked me a bit. I got up and rushed away from the family on my holiday for a therapy appointment, trying to be on time. When I arrived, I found that I had received a text from my therapist ten minutes before leaving asking if we could reschedule. She commented, “I know you hate unexpected changes, can this be an exposure to reschedule? 😂😬”
I actually had very little problem adjusting the plan and rescheduling with her. But I was so damn mad at myself for not looking at my phone before I left. Since I am rescheduling for tomorrow, I felt guilty that I will be taking a couple hours away from the kids and my wife in addition to the hour today in travel time.
I called my wife and told her what had happened. She comforted me and tried to challenge some of my thinking. “If you had texted your therapist an hour before your session saying you were ill and needed to reschedule and she didn’t see it and drove in anyway, would that be her fault? Or would it still be your fault, or no one’s fault?” I thought for a minute and replied it was somewhere in between my fault and no one’s fault. She chuckled and reminded me that a little self-compassion might help here.
In my treatment follow-up session a couple days ago, my other therapist reminded me of the steps of self-compassion:
- Be kind to myself
- Remember my common humanity
- Be mindful of what I am feeling
As I thought about those steps, I felt a wave of comfort wash over me. I could tell myself, “It’s ok to be upset. It’s not wrong to be mad right now. This is hard for me, and doesn’t need to not be hard.” I felt able to acknowledge my part in this without beating myself up. We will just move forward and do the best we can with the next couple of days. Almost right on cue, my wife sent me more compassion in another text.
Love you. Sorry it’s hard. There is no right way to do things in this situation. So there’s no failure.
I wanted to record this experience so I can come back to it. I will certainly have a similar situation come up again. I hope that the more I practice, the more easily and naturally the instinct for self-compassion will come. We could all use a little more of that.