I was mentally admiring a woman’s basket…and then felt my face on the sidewalk.
Walking away from the Durham farmers market, I’d tripped over the long leg of a detour sign.
My hand and knees were bloody, but the basket owner said my face looked okay.
I called the police, not wanting anyone else to get hurt.
The first officer who arrived laughed at me; she said she could see the sign.
I waited for her supervisor. He laughed, too. “My three-year old would have seen the sign.” 😳 🤯 😭
Later, my wrist hurt and my nose was swollen and bruised.
I went to Urgent Care. Thank goodness, X-rays showed nothing broken.
For days, I was in a daze.
- Head to cement.
- The police laughed at me.
- It reminded me of a time when a police officer didn’t protect me.
It was traumatic (“too much, too fast, too soon, without enough emotional support,” as Dr. Peter Levine describes).
When I used that word (not lightly) to one person, she minimized, “Well, it could be trauma with a little ‘t’.”
Connection is important. Telehealth visits with my Chicago therapist and doctor, as well as conversations with key family and friends, helped me move through what happened so I feel fine now.
But sometimes you might share your story and, even if the other person is trying, you might not feel understood. (Even if that person loves you very much.)
Empathy is awesome, but has its limits.
With empathy, I can relate to you because I’ve felt a similar feeling…
– If you’re angry, I know what it’s like to be angry.
– If you’re heartbroken, I know what it’s like to be heartbroken.
But at the end of the day, you can understand what you’ve been through (and how it feels) better than anyone else.
Which is one reason why self-compassion is so important.
From the patio full of people eating dinner in down coats in Raleigh earlier this week, recent NY Times and NPR articles, and conversations with friends… I know I’m not the only one who’s confused about what feels safe in terms of COVID these days.
I also know my particular recipe of past experiences that makes me more risk-averse than some.
Still, sometimes I’m hard on myself…I wish I could toss off my mask and not think twice.
But then I remember…it makes sense that I’m uncomfortable: I had the virus twice, lost most of my smell/taste for over a year, and still don’t have it back fully.
Of course I’m more cautious. (Exhale.)
Whatever the situation, instead of feeling bad for what you’re feeling, what would it be like to have compassion for yourself, Sheila?
It makes sense you feel the way you do. Because of what you’ve experienced.
Self-compassion may not come naturally. When I first heard the word years ago, I thought it was absurd.
Self Compassion, by Kristin Neff, was an eye-opening book for me back then.
I haven’t gotten to read her newest book, Fierce Self-Compassion, yet. — Thanks to my awesome online personal trainer, Elyse Sparkes, for sharing the following list from Fierce Self-Compassion in her blog (and letting me re-share it)…
When we’re stressed, it can be helpful to tend to ourselves physically first.
#6 immediately calms me. — Try them all (for at least 15 seconds each) and feel what’s most comforting for you.
- One or two hands over your heart
- Cradling your face in your hands
- Gently stroking your arms
- Crossing your arms and giving a gentle squeeze
- Hugging yourself and rocking softly back and forth
- A fist on your heart with the other hand over it
- One or two hands on your solar plexus, your energetic center (which is located right below your ribcage and about three inches above your belly button)
- One hand on your heart and one on your solar plexus
- Squeezing your own hand
- Two arms planted firmly on your hips
Then, when you’re ready, check out this post for an entryway into practicing self-compassionate thoughts.
This is a very challenging time in the world, close to home and internationally.
I hope you can be kind to yourself, friend.
Sheila Devi is an Executive Life Coach. She helps people in deadline-driven, high-stress fields (such as law) to navigate professional/personal challenges…so they have more time to do their best work and enjoy life!
Want more time and energy so you can focus on what’s most important to you? There’s one more chances this spring to participate in my healthy boundaries workshop. (I’m not planning to offer it outside of firms/associations until at least the fall.) A recent participant emailed afterwards, “The timing of the presentation was perfect for me! I’d been feeling trapped trying to do it all. …a weight has been lifted off of me.” Length: 90-minutes. Date: 4/27. Investment: $97. More details and sign-up links here.