Saturday, March 21, 2015
Learning Self-Compassion from a Long-Ago Disney Trip
"People get lost at Disney," my husband said today in reply to something I had said. I realized he meant adults get lost, not only young people like I was when I got lost in Disneyland as a teenager, trying to find my way back to an outdoor restaurant from a restroom. It had never occurred to me before that getting lost at Disney was something an adult might do.
I had always been proud that I had kept my cool that day, had retraced my steps to the restroom, had asked an employee for directions, and had found my way back to my parents, sister, and our friends.
But when my husband said that today, tears sprang to my eyes with sudden relief that I had not been stupid - after all - to get lost. Tears of compassion, too, for the girl who had thought she was irresponsible for not paying enough attention, or else she would never have gotten lost.
It was a healing moment - that thought today, that moment of love today for the self I was, that day, long ago.
I had already had plenty of the "I can take care of myself" tools in my tool box as a child. What I hadn't had, back then, was the tool of self-compassion.
What's the difference between self-compassion and self-pity, though? Self-pity, I think, looks at others' problems, and says, "I can't help you or empathize with you; I can only feel sorry for myself." On the other hand, someone with self-compassion may care very much about the problems of others; but also takes the time and care for an inward look, at his or her present or past self, to say lovingly, as we would say to a good friend, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry that happened to you. I’m sorry you feel - or felt - badly. You are valuable and you are loved."
I don't share this story with you to elicit your compassion for me, but to encourage your compassion for yourself. It's something I've been learning about for some time now, in theory, but it was cool to see the lesson fall into place, and I wanted to share that lesson with you all, too.