Turn to Self-Compassion When You Feel Lost

Don't be the attacker and the attacked.

Kimberly Fosu
Jul 29 · 9 min read

I don't know where you got that from but you thought healing was a one-time thing. You thought you heal your pain once and you never feel it again. You thought to let go of the past meant the end of the chapter.

But to your surprise, the things you thought you have healed and put behind you come to the surface. You feel the pain as if it was happening now when it happened months, even years ago.

How can you heal something and put it in the past only for it to feel as if you never did the healing work at all?

Healing is not linear but you can go easy on yourself in your pain instead of beating yourself up for feeling pain.

Sometimes our sense of self is divided. We have the side that critiques, insults, and undermines us when we don’t live to our expectations — our own worst enemy.

And the side that nurtures, motivates, encourages, and supports us — our own best friend.

Self-criticism is a common but major problem that should not be overlooked. The way you talk to yourself plays a vital role in your healing journey and in your overall wellbeing.

The opposite of self-criticism — self-compassion is the act of nurturing yourself when you are hurting.

Showing compassion for yourself in times of pain and suffering can improve the way you feel while you work through your issues.

The reason I know self-compassion works is that I’ve seen the benefits of it in my personal life.

For all of 2018, I felt lost. I was heartbroken and hurt. I was angry — not at anybody, but myself. How could I? Why didn't I know better? Why did I allow things to go on for as long as they did? What was wrong with me?

I was hard on myself. I beat myself up. I should have known better. There was no excuse. I was mean and angry with myself.

And then in 2019 an awakening happened, and I began my journey to self-love and acceptance. I was still hurt and angry, but I wasn't as mean to myself. I was learning to love and forgive myself for the things I didn't know.

It was a great year, I was happy, healing, letting go of the past mistakes, I was forgiving myself and others. I was learning to be kind and gentle with myself.

And then 2020 happened. With the crisis and all the isolation, I noticed past feelings and hurt coming up. I was angry again. The things I thought I had healed were coming up. This time harder and even more hurtful. I thought I had forgiven and let it all go. I was confused.

When memories of my past that made me angry or sad, I held myself closer. I told myself sweet things. I said things like I am here for you, Kim. I love you. Everything will be ok, you will see. I treated myself better.

Why wouldn’t you be compassionate with yourself when you are hurting? You would be to a hurting friend, so why not you?

Let’s say your best friend calls you after she dumps her cheating, douchy boyfriend. She is clearly upset about it. Would you tell her that her boyfriend wasn't faithful to her because she was stupid, ugly, boring, wear ill-fitting clothes and is 15 pounds overweight?

Would you ever talk this way to someone you cared about? Of course not. You would never. But strangely, this is how we talk to ourselves in such situations. Sometimes worse.

You would say something like, Oh, I am so sorry to hear. Are you alright? This must be upsetting. Do you need anything? I am here for you.

Showing yourself compassion means treating yourself like you would treat your friend.

This time around when negative feelings about my past came up, there was no being hard on myself and beating myself up. There was more self-assurance, self-love, self-acceptance, self-help, self-compassion, and self-care.

I put the focus on the self and showed up for myself. I was there to guide and lead me back. This time I became my friend and instead of criticizing myself, I was compassionate with myself. I provided myself with the emotional support I desperately needed when I was feeling regret.

Self-compassion helped me avoid harsh self-talks, allowing me to remain loving toward myself despite the feelings of stress and despair that were present.


You Deserve Your Love and Compassion

Self-compassion means being gentle, kind, and understanding with yourself. It is accepting that you are not perfect and knowing there is potential for learning and growth in the mistakes you've made.

Self-compassion is so important when you face painful emotions.

Self-compassion doesn’t always come easily. As people, we are hardest on ourselves because we expect nothing but the best. But when you fail, you can’t turn on yourself — show up for yourself.

When you feel down and you do not take matters into your own hands, it can be so easy to spiral into depression. Life is no fun living with anxiety.

Self-compassion does a great job of lowering your levels of anxiety and depression. Self-compassion calms your fears and reassures the self that it will be ok.

These days when I'm feeling bad from remembering something from the past, I immediately have a choice to make — stop this feeling right now or suffer days, even weeks of depression.

Self-compassion helps calm my anxious feelings. When anxious feelings arise, I tell myself things like I understand how you feel. I know how much it hurts, but I am here with and for you. I will never leave you.

When I remember painful events, I acknowledge the pain and I say comforting things to myself. The pain doesn't automatically disappear, but it subsides. Being gentle with myself does that.

Self-compassionate people immediately recognize their pain and they decide to be kind to themselves during that time which reduces their suffering.

For most of us, self-compassion doesn't come naturally. Luckily, it's a skill we can all learn. Here are a few ways to foster self-compassion within yourself.

1. Forgive yourself and others.

Stop punishing yourself for the mistakes you made in the past. Learn your lessons and let them go. Admit that you are not perfect and be gentle with yourself when you are confronted with your painful past.

One way to remind yourself that you are worthy, even when you’re not feeling very well, is to put sticky notes around the house or in your car. The note in my car says be gentle and kind to yourself today.

Forgiveness is crucial for self-compassion. You can’t have self-compassion if you don't admit to the part you played and forgive yourself and others.

We all make mistakes, but not all of us admit to them and forgive ourselves for them.

2. Nurture the physical body.

After I subside my pain and calm my anxiety, I nurture my body for a job well done. I eat something delicious. I massage and give my feet a treat because it is one part of my body I neglect and take for granted.

I go out and take a walk by the water. I give myself a hug and buy myself flowers. Sounds sad and silly, but it works every single time. I lay on the couch with some popcorn and enjoy my favorite tv show.

I do this to get my mind to understand that no matter how far it wonders and hurts me, I will always be there.

One of the most compassionate things you can do for yourself is to nurture your mind, body, and soul.

3. Journal your feelings.

I journal almost every single day. When unpleasant feelings arise, I make sure I write it down. I write about the situation that is causing me pain. Get it out of your head and onto paper.

This could be a nasty breakup, a job loss, loss of a dear one, or financial difficulties. Doing this also serves as proof of the things you have overcome. If you've felt that way before and gotten over it, you can do it again. Be fearless when you write.

4. Encourage yourself.

When you are going through something horrible, think of all the encouraging words you would say to someone you really care about. You wouldn't yell at them and tell them how stupid they are for doing what they did.

You would encourage them to keep fighting and not give up. Why don't you do that for yourself? You matter so encourage yourself to keep going. Remind yourself you will be ok.

Don’t allow life’s challenges to discourage and keep your spirits down. The most painful lessons of the past can teach you how to survive in the present and future.

5. Accept the past.

Make peace with your past so it can no longer haunt you. You can’t change it so you might as well find some closure for yourself. Just because you accept something doesn’t mean what happened is ok. You accept it so you can find peace move on.

We all have things from our past we regret. Things we wish never happened. But the more you focus on accepting the things for what they are, the more content you become with where you are now.

6. Practice mindfulness.

Observe your negative thoughts and feelings without judging yourself for thinking and feeling them. You observe your thoughts without attachment.

Just because you think a thought does not make it true. Self-awareness can positively influence your level of self-compassion.

Mindfulness and self-compassion both allow us to live with less resistance toward ourselves. If you can fully accept that things are so painful and still be kind to yourself, you can be with your pain with ease.

When you are mindful and strive to be in the present moment, you are less likely to judge yourself when you are hurting.


Be Good to You

Painful thoughts and memories that result after a traumatic event will be less overwhelming when you show compassion for yourself. Facing them may be easier too.

When you have compassion you are less likely to focus on your despair and instead find avenues to comfort and make yourself feel better.

Self-compassion makes you less likely to ruminate on how terrible things feel and instead change your perspective.

Next time you feel attacked by negative emotions, hold yourself in your own warm embrace, forgive yourself for all the things you didn't do right — you are only human.

Encourage yourself that the tables will turn, write down everything that's on your mind, get outside in nature, or take a power nap if you'd like.

Whatever you do, save yourself. You are the only one who can and you are more than capable.

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Kimberly Fosu

Written by

Ghanaian-American Creator | Copywriter | Editor. Need a writer to help grow your business? Let me help! Book a free 30-min consult. https://www.kimberlyfosu.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 119,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Kimberly Fosu

Written by

Ghanaian-American Creator | Copywriter | Editor. Need a writer to help grow your business? Let me help! Book a free 30-min consult. https://www.kimberlyfosu.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 119,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

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