Perhaps you are like many of my clients – accomplished women who find it quite easy to offer kindness and compassion to others yet struggle to give it to themselves. I get it. It’s something I’ve struggled with as well. And it’s a worthy struggle as self-compassion is a vital ingredient to a robust and well-enjoyed life. While there are many ways you can practice self-compassion, this is one of my favorites:
- Find a picture of yourself as a child – somewhere between 2 and 10 years of age.
- Write about or consider what you remember about the time, or period of time, this picture was taken.
- Write about or consider the expression on your face and what you may have been thinking and feeling at that time.
- Keep that picture somewhere where you can look at it easily. Maybe on the refrigerator, next to your computer or on your bedside table. You may even want to frame and/or enlarge the picture
- When you are having a hard time and in need of some self-compassion look at that picture, remember that that child is still in you and speak to yourself with the same loving kindness you would offer that child.
I had the good fortune of stumbling on a 15-by-18-inch black and white photo of my mother and me when I was cleaning out her attic after she died. While the frame it was in was rotted, the photo itself was in good shape so I had it reframed and placed it on a credenza in my office that I can easily see when sitting at my desk.
I’m about 4 years old in the photo, and every time I look at it something inside me melts and I am awash with tenderness for my tiny, innocent, wholly lovable, 4-year-old (and now 50-year-old) self. In fact, I usually invite my coaching circle clients to bring a picture of themselves as a child to one of our sessions and invariably each woman is moved by looking at and sharing her photo.
So, dear reader, tell me:
- What comes up for you when you look at a picture of your childhood self?
- What would it mean for you to have more self-compassion in your life?
Take care of your special self.