And it all started with a quick meditation by Kristin Neff.
Soooo, this is what I learnt from Kristin, the 3 ingredients of self-compassion:
1) "This is a moment of suffering."
- as I get into the cold water, I acknowledge, yup, this is not pleasant.
2) "Suffering is a part of life"
- I remind myself that the only way to get a swim is to go through the 'getting in bit'.
3) "May I be kind to myself in this moment"- this adds softness and stops me from shaming myself if I DO make a fuss.
Just those 3 sentences totally changed how I enter cold water.
So what happens when I use the sentences on a recent break up I've gone through?
1) I acknowledge that yes, my heart is breaking. It hurts.
2) I remind myself that I only have this pain because I loved so deeply, and I don't want to give up loving. If I want deep relationships, sometimes it will hurt.
3) THIS is my life's work: being kinder to myself.
I have an old unhelpful habit of being really critical of myself - I predict my own failure before it happens, to 'protect' myself. I say the nasty things to myself first, before anyone else can.
Initially, after this breakup, I went straight to listing my failures and all the reasons I will never find love. Even calling myself a failure.
Adding kindness to that has meant reminding myself that I'm human. None of us are perfect. It takes 2 people to make a relationship work.
And also, maybe instead of analysing it right now, I can go and see some friends or go for a swim and FIND my joy again. See how joyous I am in the photo!
Learning to be kind to yourself is something I suspect that happens little decision by little decision. Let's start now.
And as I was in the cold cold water, I wondered if maybe I'm a bit of a pro at painful stuff. So this thing that I was dreading happening, this thing that really hurts, maybe I can just go through it like I do the cold water. From all that practice.
Is this too deep for a Wednesday afternoon? I'd love to know if it speaks to you.
I'm not sharing my story for sympathy, but because I hope you find it useful or at least interesting.