ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia and Cultivating Self-Compassion

This is a post I wrote especially for ProHealth’s Inspirational Corner and first appeared there about a month ago:

Living with ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia or any chronic illness isn’t easy. We wouldn’t want others to suffer in the ways that we do, but nevertheless we often give ourselves a hard time about it. Sometimes we will push ourselves too hard or depreciate ourselves for experiencing difficult feelings and make life even more difficult and uncomfortable.

Being kind to ourselves can make a big difference to our wellbeing but often it’s a skill that we need to develop.  If we knew that a loved one was going through what we go through, we would want to comfort them and care for them as well as we could. If we could show ourselves that same compassion, acceptance and understanding we could really improve our quality of life. And when we learn how to give it to ourselves, it’s on tap whenever we need it!

Self-compassion is first and foremost a choice, but it’s also a skill that may need some practise. I choose to believe that each and every one of us are worthy of kindness and caring. And that means me too. If I’m not worthy of compassion that means that other people might not be and that’s just not acceptable to me. The part of me that wants to find unconditional love for all others won’t allow me to be the exception. So if you’re struggling to find yourself worthy of your own compassion maybe you could contemplate the value of unconditional love for all, and include yourself in that ‘all’.

Another technique you might like to try is to start by developing a sense of compassion for yourself as a child. Connect with a time during your childhood when you know that you deserved to be loved and cared for. Imagine caring for ‘you as a child’ and get in touch with what that caring feels like. Recognise how the essence of ‘you as a child’ is still what makes you ‘you today’. How does caring for yourself as a child make you feel in this moment? Wouldn’t you like to feel that about yourself now? Remind yourself that you can choose to.

Once you have made the choice to offer yourself compassion it’s just a matter of practice.  Simply imagine how you would want to care for a loved one going through the same things that you are, and then choose to offer those same feelings of loving kindness towards yourself. Some people find it helpful to look in the mirror when doing this. If at first self-compassion doesn’t come naturally just try acting it. The results are likely to make you want to do it more. Simply acting in a kind and compassionate way feels good!

In my experience life becomes softer and more comfortable with self-compassion. I’m less likely to get stuck with negative feelings, when I compassionately accept myself I can allow them to flow. With self-compassion I take better care of myself because I don’t push myself or force myself to do things that are beyond me. When I’m willing to take care of myself it’s easier for others to help take care of me too. I don’t get so needy and it’s easier to be less demanding. With self-compassion I can chose to take a positive attitude when it’s what I need to do, but it’s also safe for me to express my difficult feelings when they are the reality of my experience of the moment.

Could you be kinder and more compassionate to yourself?

A small favour: I’d be really grateful if you could you rate this article using the stars below the related posts? Many thanks!

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