Wednesday 10th March 2021
I’d hazard a guess you’re a great friend to your loved ones.
If you ask me, old friends are one of the highlights of this life. They know us well, they empathise with us when we struggle. They encourage us when our confidence falters, and hold us accountable to our goals. They remind us of who we are and tell us why they love us when we just can’t see it.
What would life feel like if you were that kind of friend to yourself?
So much of my work brings clients into feeling compassion for themselves. Holding their fragile, hurt parts with the kind of understanding and warm, loving attention they would readily offer an old friend. There is healing of our fragmentation when we are able to befriend ourselves in the supported environment of a session. Not just intellectually but really experiencing what it feels like to give loving kindness to yourself, and receive it.
Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we find it so much easier to extend forgiveness, understanding and unconditional regard to a loved friend than our own selves? Why are we often our most exacting judge, harshest critic, most ruthless detractor?
Usually it has its source in childhood and the modelling we experienced, or what we decided was our fault. Many parents were dissociated from their tenderness, or caught in their own pain, or tough on their children because they feared the world would devour them in one gulp if they remained sensitive and child-like. For some of us it was an experience of fragility at a developmental point that caused pain, and forever after we have guarded against that vulnerability by being tough on ourselves, shutting ourselves off from receiving our own compassion.
The reasons are many; the struggle only tightens its grip when we continue that imprint by causing ourselves further pain. Reasonably simple or solvable problems can become a hundred times more difficult to navigate when our internal critic gets the upper hand.
The experience we can access in a breathwork session of offering ourselves the kindness of a true friend is a powerful medicine and can be accessed and practiced after that whenever the negative self-talk, blaming, punishing parts of us are activated. Practising self kindness is like strengthening a muscle that you didn’t even know you had, recognising when you’re mistreating your vulnerable parts. For most of us there are ample opportunities to respond to ourselves with this quality of care and develop new neural pathways, new habits and a life of growing ease and gentleness.
I look forward to being your ally, walking beside you in the terrain of the inner landscape, in this and many other kinds of journeys. This work a great honour, accompanying those who feel the calling to deepen their relationship with themselves.