Caroline Toshack shares a short practice for self-compassion.
For many of us, staying at home means we have more time available and more space in our day. Perhaps this offers an opportunity for us to do some of the things that we have been wanting, and meaning, to do for some time. We may find instead that this new found space and time offers up less of the distractions that we unconsciously create to shut out our inner critic, and we find we’re unable to get away from the one person we don’t want to be stuck with – ourself.
Too much time to think, too many changes to negotiate our way around and less interaction with others can be breeding grounds for our inner critic. We find ourselves self soothing in various forms – food, drink, binge watching – or creating new distractions to keep us away from ourself – cleaning what’s already clean once more, visiting the supermarket ‘just because’, or online shopping for things we ‘need’.
Now, this comes with no judgement from me – I get it! I seem to have cultivated a new passion for duvet covers and pillow cases that I didn’t know I had!
But I do also know what it feels like to be full of dislike for yourself and to sit with yourself when you’d rather run the other way. I know that it takes courage. It IS challenging to self soothe in kind ways and to show ourself love and attention when we’d rather point out all our flaws and make a list of how and when to eradicate them. And it does take strength to notice who we ARE and accept all parts of ourself. I also know that ultimately until we learn to do that then we will continue on the same old, same old cycle.
Now, let’s be realistic, we don’t make one big leap from disliking ourself to being filled with self love. That’s a heck of a big ask I reckon.
So, we start small! I’ve recorded and attached this short activity that you can try. Just maybe it can help you can discover that actually some part of you is ok and worthy of some kindness. You may find that it feels nice to do this activity and you feel good for taking the time to look after you. Maybe it’s the start of getting to know your body, building a relationship beyond the distractions and disconnection. Maybe you do it once and never again! But it could also be the first step in making friends with yourself and being ok in your own skin.
You will need some hand cream, or lotion that you can rub into your skin. If you don’t have anything like that at the moment then you could also use a couple of drops of olive oil or cooking oil.
Michelle has also been looking at the inner critic and why it might have come into your life. She has set out a few ways that you can deal with its presence during lockdown.
Author: Caroline Toshack
Movement Therapist BSc at TRC Edinburgh