The January Journal Prompt Writing Challenge continues, and today we are talking about compassion. Have you ever noticed how it is easier to be kind to a friend that it is to ourselves? Even a stranger – we would never say nasty things to a stranger, but we say them to ourselves all the time. Today I want you to think about self compassion. How can you treat yourself like a friend?
Today’s Journal Prompt on Compassion:
Name a compassionate way you have supported a friend recently.
Then write down how you can do it for yourself.
Now, don’t get too hung up on the word “recently.” In fact, I probably shouldn’t have included that word in the prompt at all. What I meant was something that comes to mind fairly easily. And it doesn’t have to be a big thing. Did you let a friend off the hook when they said something stupid? Did you commiserate with someone who was struggling – maybe compassionately share similar struggles? (The holidays seem to be a good time for this.) Think about kindness you have shown people, but if it isn’t recent, that’s okay.
Then reflect on whether this is a compassionate thing you could also do for yourself. Can you let yourself off the hook for saying something stupid, instead of ruminating on it? Can you acknowledge a struggle in your life, and accept that it is hard, rather than beating yourself up for not “being better”? That’s what we are getting at. Don’t just think about it though, write it down or make some art about it. We follow through so much better when we have a commitment to do something.
My Reflections on Compassion for a Friend
So, I have a wonderful friend who has a lot of difficulties in life. She has health problems, physical and mental. She also has financial problems. On top of all that, she’s had a few rough years. A close sibling died recently and she has other struggles with family. But despite her problems, she is a wonderful human being, a funny, clever, amazing woman. I love her dearly.
I know she has been having a hard time, but there is very little I can do about it. Our lives don’t intersect the way they used to. I’m lucky if I see her once a year, so it’s not like I see her and can give her a hug. It’s not that I don’t want to see her, but she frequently shuts herself away from the world and especially her friends.
So, How Could I Show My Care and Compassion?
But after a mutual friend shared their concerns about her to me, a small plan formed. I decided to text her. Not every day and not anything deep. (She has enough of that in her life). But little things – stupid silly memes and photos of my dogs. Things to make her smile, and more importantly, show her that someone is out there thinking of her.
I’m the type of person who works best with a schedule and a plan. But I didn’t want it to feel that way to her – I didn’t want my compassion to feel like an obligation. I wouldn’t see it that way, but she might. So, I set up a schedule in my reminders on my phone to text her every 8 days. I figured that would make it feel more random. Then I minded another friend of mine’s Facebook page. We all have that one friend that posts tons of memes – I pulled off a bunch of funny, silly ones and stored them in my phone. That way I always had something to say or send.
I’m sure this sounds a little calculated and maybe even cold. But, I know myself well enough to know that if I want to do something, I need a routine – and a reminder. And coming up with fresh material is hard! I didn’t want to get stuck with nothing to send and not do it. If I have something I think she’ll like I send it before the 8 day reminder, I don’t wait for it, I send it right away. But I also know that at least every few days, she knows a friend is thinking of her.
And it worked! She and I chat now over text, more than we have in a long time. She even asked me to help with a small project (carrying something heavy,) which I don’t think she would have done before. It was a big step for her to reach out to someone.
Now, How Can I Do the Same for Myself?
I can’t send myself funny texts. And I could treat myself with self compassion by reaching out to friends, but frankly, I already do that. I have an amazing network of good people in my life, and I do talk to them regularly.
But what I could use in my life is a little more humor – a little more silliness. My adorable dogs make me laugh every day, any my boyfriend is incredibly funny, but I could use a little daily humor that doesn’t depend on others.
So, I bought myself a daily calendar. I love the work of Liz Climo. Her humor is exactly the sort of humor I’ve been trying to send to my friend. Funny, but also endearing. Something that has a heart to it. When we have a wounded heart, sometimes the most compassionate things we can do is heal it with laughter. I have also bought several of her books for friends that are going through hard times.