Why self-compassion is the solution for your fear
by Heather Thatcher
This article takes 7 minutes to read
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The last two weeks have been wild, haven’t they?
This is the first time in the three years I’ve been podcasting that I’ve done an episode that is specific to what’s going on right now in the world and at the time of this recording the Corona virus has caused HUGE shifts all over the world.
International travel has all but shut down. Some countries are on full lock down with everyone staying home and only leaving when absolutely necessary. Some countries are less strict than this, but regardless of where you live right now there’s a baseline level of fear.
There is so much uncertainty. There is so much panic and I know people are poking fun at all the panic buying of toilet paper especially. But there are people who have already lost their jobs or are worried about whether they will have a job in a few weeks.
The global economy is crashing. Children are home from school probably until the summer so parents are figuring out homeschooling. People are now working from home if they are still working, and there’s lots of technical issues that go along with that.
New policies are being written all over the map. And people are getting sick. Granted, there is a small population that is at risk of complications from this virus, but the truth is if we don’t all stick together and practice social distancing, even the countries with high-level health care systems could be in trouble. That, in itself, is scary.
So what do we do?
How do we navigate these uncertain and unstable times?
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Compassion is always the answer.
And today, I’m going to walk you through why compassion and self-compassion is going to help you with the fear or unease you’re feeling right now and give you the exact steps on how to do it. Of course I also have a free pdf guide that walks you through the whole process and you can get it by going to heatherthatcher.com/compassion.
No, I’m not going to talk about COVID-19 and all the recommendations that your health ministers and leaders are suggesting. We’re already hearing lots of that on the news and reading about it on social media.
But the truth is, the main tenant social distancing is the most compassionate and powerful thing you can do at this time.
By practicing social distancing, you are actively protecting the people who need to be protected from this virus.
Yes, it’s strange to be caught in your home and for all the theatres, libraries, museums, lots of stores, restaurants, pubs, all being closed for now. But we have this beautiful thing called the internet and our smartphones so we can still connect socially but in a way that doesn’t put our vulnerable population at risk.
So please, keep your connection to your compassion for others strong and practice social distancing.
That’s it for my COVID-19 soap box. Now let’s talk about you.
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I have been practicing what I preach for years, including the self-compassion script that I’m going to talk about today. I use them all the time.
And about a week and a half ago when I was in the grocery store to just pick up a few things – it was tough.
You could feel the fear, the panic, the worry on everyone else in there. And so even though I am pragmatic about this given my background in infection prevention and control and as an ICU RN, I could feel the little bit of fear, panic and uncertainty welling up inside my heart as well as I was shopping.
We are absolutely affected by people around us, especially when emotions are high.
And I’m not talking about it in the Instagram emotional empath way.
When people are feeling strong emotions like they are right now, we act differently, we look at one another differently, and we talk differently. Our brain in default survival mode picks up on that and starts to worry.
Our Inner Critic notices that people are different and things are not normal, so it runs around and pushes all the panic buttons and ramps up our stress response.
But, and you knew there was a but coming, this is where a self-compassion script can calm down your Inner Critic and take that panic button away.
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How to use a self-compassion script
When I was in the grocery store, feeling the fear and panic arise in me, I stopped, took a few calming breaths and said “I know that things are different right now, and we don’t know what it will look like moving forward. You are feeling fear, but you are not your fear. It’s okay that you’re worried, but remember that you’re just doing the best you can and that’s all you can ask for in this moment.”
And as I was saying that to myself over and over, I felt my body calm down, and I felt myself sink back into that space where the Objective Observer lives within me.
We all have an Objective Observer within, and that is the side of us that can remain calm, cool, and collected even in times of fear and uncertainty like we’re feeling now.
One of the easiest ways to quickly access this calm, cool, collected part of ourselves is through breathwork and a self-compassion script.
Last week, I had another moment where a self-compassion script came in handy.
Like I said before, I’m used to working as an RN in the ICU and having been through SARS, the H1N1 flu, I know how to support people on the front line. But right now working in the ICU here isn’t an option for me because of my health.
And that hit me really hard, my friend. Really hard. Like ugly crying in the kitchen hard. I’m still working on healing that part of my identity that was tied up in being an ICU RN, and that’s okay. I’m doing the inner work on that, like I teach in the Ultimate LIfe Survival Guide community and the Life Reboot Program that I’m currently offering for free right now at the time of this recording to help people through this difficult time.
So I used a self-compassion script again, and within minutes I felt better and it came to me that even though I cannot help people in the hospital right now, I can still help you. And that’s why I opened up my Ultimate Life Survival Guide program which normally costs $1000 and I am giving it away for free until March 25th, 2020.
So if you’re listening to this before that date, then go to heatherthatcher.com/free to join the group of people who are already signed up and working on week one.
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Why does a self-compassion script work?
Instead of just trying to think positive and covering up your difficult feelings or pushing them down because we don’t have time to deal with them. Or, honestly, for most of us we’ve learned how to do this because difficult emotions can upset other people and if you’re a recovering people pleaser, that means that pushing down, covering up or ignoring difficult emotions is a strong habit that we’ve learned.
Think of it this way, though. If a friend came to you saying “You know, this is all so scary, I don’t know what I’m going to do!”
You wouldn’t turn to them and say “don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine and will all return back to the normal we used to know. You shouldn’t feel scared. There’s nothing to worry!”
Probably, not right?
You’d comfort them, let them know that you understand that they’re feeling scared and worried, and that it’s okay to feel this way.
You’d let them know that they’re not alone and that you can get through this together by supporting one another.
You’d show them the compassion they deserve.
You also deserve that same compassion, and that is what a self-compassion script can help you do, especially if acknowledging your emotions and feeling worthy of self-compassion is a struggle for you at this point.
You’re not alone if you identified with that statement. You’re so used to caring for others that it’s easy to deprioritize yourself in times like this.
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A self-compassion script has three main components:
#1 – acknowledge what’s happening or what has happened
#2 – validate your feelings
#3 – comfort and encourage yourself
By following these three steps, you’re allowing yourself to acknowledge that yes, things are rough right now. You’re then reminding yourself that your feelings are valid and worthy of being felt and experienced which makes you feel heard and understood – which is exactly what you’d do for a dear friend. Then in the comfort and encouragement section of the self-compassion script, you can give yourself a pep-talk, remind yourself of all the struggles you’ve survived through before, talk about what you feel in control of.
Because by focusing on what you can control, and releasing what you can’t, you’re going to feel more empowered than ever before.
The action step I have for you to integrate this into your life today is to download your copy of the self-compassion script worksheet and write your own to help you manage what you’re feeling right now in this challenging time.
We are in this together and by showing ourselves compassion we’ll be able to show more compassion to those around us.
We can do this together.