Grieving Self-Compassionately or Being Warm & Fuzzy to Oneself while Suffering
There are many things about loss that are beyond our control. Death has a way of reminding us of our human limits. While medical support provides assistance, a part of us knows that we cannot control when and how a loved one dies. After a loved one dies, we may wrestle with other things that we cannot control. Unfortunately, we cannot change past events. And when grieving, we cannot completely control the overpowering feelings that we experience as we face being separated from an important person.
So what can we control or even influence in our grief? Sometimes we have a tendency to add to our suffering by how we relate to ourselves when we are grieving. We respond to our pain with a critical voice that judges us. Negative thoughts about ones worth, flaws, and how one "should be" are common forms of harsh self-talk. Essentially, when we are critical of ourselves when we are hurting we are literally adding insults to injury.
I recently watched a video series by Kristin Neff (www.self-compassion.org) in which she discusses self-compassion practices as a way of tending to ourselves and negotiating critical self-talk. A simple approach she offers is the idea of talking to yourself like you would talk to a dear friend whom is struggling. Here are some examples contrasting critical and self-compassionate forms of self-talk.
An invitation to experiment in your grieving or your suffering practices:
1. Notice your inner voice. How do you relate to yourself while you are grieving or suffering? Note any criticisms or"should-ing" present in your self-talk.
2. Attempt to respond to yourself with what you might say to a close friend whom is experiencing a hardship.