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Mindful : February 2019
her partner, and this is how the conversation goes. “Hey,” you say, picking up the phone. “How are you? ” “Terrible,” she says, choking back tears. “ You know that guy Michael I’ve been dating? Well, he’s the first man I’ve been really excited about since my divorce. Last night he told me that I was putting too much pressure on him and that he just wants to be friends. I’m devastated.” You sigh and say, “ Well, to be perfectly honest, it’s probably because you’re old, ugly, and boring, not to mention needy and depen- dent. And you’re at least 20 pounds overweight, your clothes don’t fit, and your hair is turning g ray. I’d just give up now, because there’s really no hope of finding anyone who will ever love you. I mean, frankly, you don’t deserve it!” Would you ever talk this way to someone you cared about? Of course not. But strangely, this is precisely the type of thing we say to ourselves in such situations—or worse. With self-compassion, we learn to speak to ourselves like a good friend. “I’m so sorry. Are you OK? You must be so upset. Remember I’m here for you and I deeply appre- ciate you. Is there anything I can do to help?” When we mindfully observe our pain, we can acknowledge our suffering without exaggerating it, allowing us to take a wiser and more objective per- spective on ourselves and our lives. → Whenever you find yourself using self-compassion to try to make the pain go away or to become a “better person,” try shifting your focus away from this subtle form of resistance and practice compassion simply because we’re all imperfect human beings, living imper- fect lives. And life is hard. In other words, practice being a “compassionate mess.” By simply asking the question “What do I need now?” you allow yourself a moment of self-compassion, even if you can’t find an answer or don’t have the ability to meet your needs at the time. Practicing Imperfection tip PHOTOGRAPHBYGABRIELBUCATARU/STOCKSY February 2019 mindful 43 self-compassion