After helping his father at the farm, little Dylan walks into his mother’s kitchen and plops on to the wood bench. His mother offers him a fresh glass of milk for his afternoon labor. As he turns to take the cup, his toddler brother knocks it out of his hand, spilling the milk across the floor. The toddler coos as the cats run in for a feast.
Dylan looks up at his mother with tears in his eyes.
Eager to return to her cooking, the mother ruffles his hair and says,
“Oh Dylan, don’t cry over spilt milk!”
What if the story ended differently?
What if the mother said “Of course you want to cry Dylan. It is alright.”
You may have had many such Dylan moments as a child. I know I have.
Our vulnerability to loss and disappointment weighs on our heart - regardless of our age, ethnicity, or financial status.
While human vulnerability is not optional, I believe it is malleable. We can change our relationship to vulnerability by developing a practice of self compassion.
I would like to share with you a self compassion ritual I created as I healed my heart from miscarriages. This ritual is inspired by my teacher, Dr. Linda Howe, author of “Discover Your Life’s Path through the Akashic Records.” I learned that instead of telling myself that I should not feel bad, sad, overwhelmed, and angry, I could connect with a loving force inside of me to comfort myself.
Over time, I discovered that these five steps work for less significant situations as well - like Dylan's spilt milk. Today, I teach this ritual to my coaching clients. They too experience peace and calm in their heart from these simple steps like I do.
5 Step Ritual to Show Yourself Compassion
- Listen for your pulse: the moment you sense the challenging emotion, pause and listen for your pulse. Listening for your pulse helps you become quiet inside. You may notice your face relax and your ears widen.
- Hold your heart: While still listening for your pulse, put your hands on your heart and let the warmth of your hands expands its presence. Holding your heart creates a stronger connection to the power of love inside of you.
- Return to the emotion: What is the troubling emotion? For example, "I am disappointed that I was passed over for the promotion." Or, "I am still sad about my mother’s death, although it has been three years." Notice any physical sensations in your chest.
- Comfort the part of you in pain: With your inner voice, talk to the part of you that is disappointed. Say, “Of course you are sad. It’s alright.” Continue to listen to the beat of your heart and hold the space with your hand or hands. Whisper kind words to the part of you that is suffering.
- Close the ritual with gratitude. Scan the area around your heart with your attention. Notice if the sensation in this area have shifted: is your chest lighter? are you breathing easier? Express gratitude to the healing forces within you.
I suggest you try this five step ritual first at home and then out and about. Sneak it into your schedule to create calm and balance at any time of the day.
Self compassion is the most powerful weapon in the self-help / self-development tool kit. Directing compassion at ourselves for small and large disappointments of life soothes pain in our heart and helps us move forward in life with curiosity and creativity.
A question for contemplation: where does the love you direct at yourself come from?