About a two or three months ago, I met with a therapist to begin the process of working through the issues I had with body image and eating disorders. A few things that she suggested were to have compassion on myself and talk and treat myself as if I was a friend going through these struggles.
At first I was confused and a bit discouraged. I thought, “How the heck is that going to help me feel better about myself and push through my trials? How in the world will treating myself like one of my friends improve anything?” I spent some time thinking about how I would treat a friend or Sappy if they were experiencing something challenging and came to me for love or support. I wouldn’t tell them to suck it up. I wouldn’t say they could have done better and are pathetic. I wouldn’t think that they are weak if they had given into whatever they were battling. I would come from a place of love and understanding, asking them what I could do for them and supporting them as they progress.
Before I applied this to myself, I really thought about what the word meant. Sure, I’ve heard it a billion and a half times, but could I really give a definition? Wiki defines compassion as, “[something that] motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, spiritual, or emotional hurts and pains of another.” Similarly, Greatgood.berkeley.edu says, “Compassion literally means ‘to suffer together.'” When I looked under the Bible dictionary, topical guide, and index, they all told me to look under love, charity, mercy, loving-kindness, comfort, etc to receive the full definition of compassion.
All of these descriptions formed a different part of how I viewed being compassionate. Not only is it going out of your way to help someone who’s hurting or to hurt with them, but it’s also showing charity, mercy and all the other Christ like words above.
In the beginning I was worried that if I started showing myself compassion and being kinder, I would allow myself to get away with more, be discouraged, and gain 300 pounds. I talked with Sappy, my mom, the therapist, and others about it; they all had amazing things to say but I was still skeptical. I finally realized that I was being ridiculous and promised to try it out and see how it goes.
I honestly didn’t expect it to affect me in so many ways yet it has branched out and shown itself in so many different aspects of my life. Not only have I been happier with myself and more accepting of my weaknesses, I have also felt the same way towards other people. I have been able to remind myself more that everyone is a child of God and deserves to be loved and shown compassion. I have also tried hard to reach out to people and speak kinder towards and about them (obviously I’m still human and can definitely continue to improve on this one).
These positive changes have also manifested themselves in my relationship. I make more of an effort now to understand Sappy instead of only listening to respond. I ask how I can help and what I can do for him to make his load lighter and more bearable. When he loses a match with his demons, I do my best to be loving and not judgmental.
I still have a long way to go before I would consider myself a compassionate person, but it’s a step in the right direction and that’s all I need right now. Showing myself compassion, being more understanding, practicing loving myself, and focusing on using only kind words when talking about myself has benefited me in soooo many ways. But don’t just take my word for it; try it out and prove it to yourself along with everyone around you!
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -Dalai Lama