Resilience and Self Compassion

Thu Aug 09 2018 17:43:11 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

As someone who has had an eating disorder, I know what its like to wake every day facing an internal battle.


Throughout my recovery, I had many relapses. 


Early on, I would always tell myself; “this is the last time” and I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was going through. I didn’t think anyone would understand and I was afraid of being judged. I would try to forget, and move as far away from the event as humanly possible.


On one of these occasions I had a realisation, I had to own my actions and hold myself accountable for them in order to move forward and escape the cycle I was in. And so, I told someone. This person gave me some invaluable advice...


She told me to sit with how I felt. Observe exactly what I was thinking and feeling. Really think about why I would never want to feel this way again, and remember it...


The modern world is constantly telling us to stay positive. Through social media platforms we are continuously bombarded with messages of happiness, perfection, and quick fixes to all of our problems. These messages are giving us the false sense that feeling bad is something we should be ‘getting over’, something we should just ‘think positive’ about.


We are forgetting that its actually okay, if we are not okay.


We are going to have bad days. Everyone on the planet (for the most part) is going to have bad days, despite the keyhole view of peoples lives we may see online. We need to remember this.


For me, acknowledging those days and accepting them is actually something that helps me to move on from them. It gives me the space to reflect on whats happening for me at that point in time. 


Sit with the feelings.


Something else I do when I feel those negative self talk patterns coming on, is give myself permission to take a ‘mental health day’. Now this doesn’t have to be a whole day, it could be a ‘mental health hour’, or what ever works for you!


On these days (or hours), I focus solely on self care, and do only things that will nourish and nurture me. I let go of all guilt associated with not doing chores or other responsibilities (they can wait).


I allow myself the time to feel bad if thats what I’m going through, and while this is happening I nurture and nourish myself. I do things like; walk in fresh air, have a bath, listen to music, read, or watch something terribly corny on Netflix (switched at birth anyone?).


Then, we have the next step; forgiveness.


This is something I’ve found a little trickier to figure out. Yes, sitting with those feelings was difficult, but for me it was easier than the next part; forgiving myself.


Forgiveness is still something I continuously work on. But it does get easier.


I start by being gentle with myself. Taking note when negative self talk patterns emerge, and change those thought patterns to break the cycle.


Understand that its okay to feel down, sit with the feeling and forgive yourself for those feelings (or actions). It may feel weird at first, especially if you haven’t explored the idea of self forgiveness before, but it is an essential part of self compassion and healing moving forward.


Over time, adopting these new thought patterns of reflection, acceptance and forgiveness, you can develop resilience.


Oxford dictionaires defines resilience; “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”


Being resilient does not mean that we do not face the tough times. We still face them. But, over time, using reflection, acceptance and forgiveness as daily or even momentary practices, resilience will strengthen, and you are able to bounce back from these times much faster.


Mark Manson talks about resilience in relation to emotional diversity:


“Researchers think that people who experience a wider range of these types of specific subcategories of emotions are more resilient in the face of adversity because they’re better at identifying what triggers those emotions. And thus, if you know exactly what’s making you feel the way you feel, it’s a whole lot easier to react appropriately to it.

People who practice a wide range of emotions are self-aware enough to know what triggers these emotions and then act accordingly. This makes them feel more in control of their lives, a huge factor in determining happiness and general well-being.”


Showing yourself compassion through self care and self forgiveness helps to build your resilience. Through these methods and actions, you contribute to your own well-being and happiness.