Once again I feel the holiday season crept up on me this year without a sound! Although my eyes enjoyed the seasonal changes in nature and my skin noticed the chill in the air, my fine-tuned skill of denial also kept me from fully leaning into what’s to come.
Why, you might ask . . . well, it’s because my Perfectionist starts to get really loud at the beginning of November! My “To Do” list seems to grow exponentially longer and, with the number of daylight hours shrinking, my energy level seems to decline.
It is at this time of year that I remember one of the things I am most grateful for in my life and that is my self-compassion practice! And it is a practice, one that must be tended to on an ongoing basis to keep that harsh, critical voice of my Perfectionist at a low roar.
I also like to remind myself that I am not alone in this experience. So, if you too experience a loud, critical voice inside of you, that tries to drive you to do more with less and sits in the shadows waiting to judge your every move, below are some intention-setting ideas to invite the more accepting, nurturing voice of your compassionate self forward:
- Honor your unique qualities. Our Perfectionist part looks through the lens of what is needed for improvement while our Compassionate part looks through the lens of complete acceptance of who and where we are on our journeys. So taking a moment to be proactive and choose to move through the holiday season from something inside of you, embracing your unique expression of you, instead of from that space where we feel pressured to do ‘it’ from an outside influence or pressure. Consider trying this self-compassion break soon, before the rush of the season becomes overwhelming: Find a space to sit for a few moments and invite your Perfectionist part to step forward. What does it look like? Let your imagination flow. What does it sound like? What does it want you to do? What does it want to do to you? Notice how your body feels when visiting with this part of you. Let the images fill in as many details of what the experience is like to sit next to this part of you. Now invite your Compassionate part to step forward. What does it look like, sound like? What does it want you to do and what does it want to do for you? Again allow the images to flow to fill in the details and notice how your body feels when sitting with this part of you. Now as you are sitting with your Compassionate part, ask your Perfectionist part what it is most afraid of and respond to that fear as if it was a dear friend revealing their deepest, darkest closet that holds this fear. These two parts of ourselves often feel as though they are in battle and through this self-compassion break, they can realize that they both are valued and can be friends instead of enemies.
- Step-up your self-care. The mantra that you will often hear me repeat is ‘Self-care is not selfish!’. It is mission critical for survival. So consider setting an intention now to commit to setting aside time each day for an act of self-care and while engaging in that self-care act, invite your Compassionate part to be present, reminding yourself that you deserve such care and acts of kindness.
- Accept your limitations. Let’s start with the simple fact that we only have 24 hours in a day and we are all limited by this fact. Now, start with an intention to not compromise on the number of hours you need for sleep during the holidays. From there, begin to consider how you currently spend the rest of the hours you have each day, such as working, commuting, etc. Inviting your Compassionate part to participate in this break, sense into what you are doing that truly brings you comfort and what does not feel good or healthy to you. If you sense anything that brings you discomfort, this is an area for change. When we act from a place of discomfort, even if the mind thinks it is necessary to please others, we are not serving the world or ourselves. When you act from a place of compassion and comfort, even if it creates disruption and inconvenience to others, you are spreading true joy to the world. And when you bring joy to what you do, it might surprise you how others will respond to this change. Remember, we cannot be everything to everyone, we can only be ourselves!
- Stop trying to digest other people’s energy. When we become more aware of what our Perfectionist part looks and sounds like, we might realize that the critical voice inside is not our own. If the voice belongs to someone else, such as your mother or father, then you can begin to accept that you might be carrying and trying to integrate or digest their stuff! Inviting your Compassionate part to engage more fully in your life, you will be better able to discern what is yours and what is not. Having compassion for others is a way of being of service, yet we cannot take responsibility for another person’s choices, including their intention for healing and growth. When we are able to take responsibility for disentangling ourselves from the processes of others, we might just feel relief, lighter, brighter and more freedom to be ourselves!
- Use your voice. Perhaps start with writing down what your Perfectionist part has been saying, what that inner critical voice has been saying to you repeatedly that you now recognize is not your own encouraging, motivating voice. Then, for each statement that it makes, confront it, inviting your Compassionate part to assist with the words. It might be something like “No, I don’t have to listen to you, because I don’t believe you anymore”. Or, if your Perfectionist part keeps saying “You must continue to work very hard to be worthy of love”, then you might say (out loud!), “I’m worthy of love simply by being here. I do not need to work hard to be worthy of love. I am love!” Perhaps consider taking such a self-compassion break under the Full Moon this month on the 12th, where you take what you have written down, use your voice to express your Compassionate response, and then burn what you have written down!