The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook – Speak Kindly to YOURSELF!

Mom wanted me to see a particular meditation on the Calm app. Honestly, I paid for a year of the app myself but never used it. I should say, I did use it, in the beginning, but one thing led to another (i.e. I hate meditation. No, that’s not right. I do not like “formal” meditation and opt instead for the kind performed on my walks along the lakeshore) and I stopped using the app.

Same with The Tapping Solution app even though my problem was less with the actual tapping practice and more with simply using the app itself. I’ve digressed. Sorry!

Side note: Turns out, spending nearly $200 for a year of an app isn’t worth it if you don’t … uh… use it. And here, I digress again, big time!

Ahem. Anyhow…

It was on that mediation Mom told me about that I saw the book The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Kristin Neff, Ph.D. & Christopher Germer, Ph.D., and knew I had to have it.

I should stop here and say I have been on a self-compassion kick lately. As often happens with me, when I get my mind set on something, everything I need kinda falls into my lap – or at least, puts itself right in my face, like this book did.

Reminds me of the time I bought three books that seemingly had nothing in common… oh gosh, back in 1997 or so. It stands out because of what eventually happened…

… what the books foreshadowed …

Mostly about my first marriage but also about ME.

I’ve told the story before and won’t rehash it except to say, all three books dealt with death… physical, emotional, and relationship-al (Ha! I know it’s not a word but it sure fits!). I became deeply immersed in the books/messages and wanted so badly to discuss what I’d learned with my (then) husband. I remember gushing about one of the books on the way to Home Depot – and yeah, I am speaking literally here. That’s how much it affected me! I can still see the day, sunny, windy, and warm… it was a beautiful day in the desert. When I was finished, we got out of the car. I turned to him and said, “What do you think?” He said, and I quote: “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” Beginning of the end, folks. And yes, I cried a little.

So, in the last several months, I’ve picked up no less than three books on “self” something: Self-Compassion, Self-Love, and Self-Therapy, to be exact.

I am clearly wanting to take care of myself in a way I haven’t before. Possibly a little late to the party but hey, the champagne is still flowing so maybe I’m right on time. Know what I mean?

I picked a good book to start with, too! This self-compassion book is actually a workbook and WORK, I have done! Some nights, I couldn’t put it down and was up past midnight completing exercises. On other nights, the words were heavy and I didn’t do any exercises at all.

For me, the biggest issue seems to be Shame. I always go back to it and have believed that it (shame) was a motivator for change. Note to self and you all: IT ISN’T.

As a reminder, where guilt is feeling bad about a behavior, shame is feeling bad about SELF. Oh, I’ve been so “good” at that!

One way shame manifests itself in my life: I am a master trash talker. To myself, that is! I would never say, “What’s the matter with you?” or call anyone I love an idiot, loser, or pig…

But when I talk to myself? Oh yeah.

As I worked through the chapters, I realized that I talk to myself in a way I reserve for my worst enemies. Heck, not even them, since I normally just back away and pretend they don’t exist. (Geez Louise, another digression?)

The exercises in the book are excellent and ask for specific examples of situations where self-compassion was not used.

Let me give you a few examples:

  1. The typing test – Several years ago, I had to take a keyboarding test for a job. I’ve always been a crazy-fast typist since I learned to touch type in the stone age. Also, for the prior ten years, I had worked for the classified department of a newspaper, typing while people dictated job postings, cried through obituaries, and/or sent three pages of info I had to distill down to 1/4 pg ad. Understandably, I’ve gone a little soft as I’ve gotten older and don’t do that kind of work anymore. So, it was with all this in mind as I sat down to a keyboarding test. I was HORRIFIED when I got an 84. My immediate thought was… OMG… that’s like a C+ or B- (you know, in a grading situation). Long story short, I asked if I could take the test again. I did. Same score. I was sweating, cursing myself, and feeling like an utter failure. I felt weepy and wanted to bolt out of there. Someone came up to me and asked what the problem was. I explained. “I’m so much better than average,” I cried. They looked at me like I had two heads and said, “84 words per minute is way above average!” Words per minute? I’d forgotten about that. I’d made a completely incorrect assumption and immediately blamed myself. You know, cuz that’s where I go.
  2. The scorecard – We get scorecards every month at work. I’ve done very well since the beginning and my year in review for 2022 put me at “Far Exceeds” expectations (with a nice bonus). But in January this year, I got a bummy review from a customer and it skewed my numbers. It only takes one, which feels so unfair (a whole ‘nuther can of emotional worms, yes?). I could not stop beating myself up about it. Instead of chalking it up to “These things happen,” I told myself… I should have done better. I must never allow a customer to upset me. I’m so unprofessional. I’m too emotional. I’m too old for this. And then, to add insult to injury, I told my supervisor how disappointed I was in myself because I “strive for perfection” in all that I do. God, could I be any more emotionally needy? At work? In front of someone who’s literally 30 years younger than I am? Then I was embarrassed about being upset and rambled on about my anxiety, blah, blah, blah. I don’t even remember what I said. I just kept talking. Talk about making my humiliation complete.
  3. The taxes – Three weeks ago, I went to my handy-dandy HR site and pulled my tax form so my husband could do our taxes when he got his form. Never thought a thing about it. Until two days ago when he said, “Hey, you sent the wrong form.” I’m on short-term disability right now and can’t get back into the system to get the correct form until I return to work next week. He was all set to do the taxes and then he couldn’t. My fault. So, I gently told myself that mistakes happen… HAHAHAHA. No, I did not do that. I screamed, stomped, and spun around, sweat flying, as I called myself names and cried about what a colossal screw-up I am.

So yeah, there’re just three small examples of how I think of (and talk to) myself.

Not good.

What this book has done is to IDENTIFY the ways in which I belittle myself – sadly, on a fairly consistent basis.

What I LOVE LOVE LOVE about this book is that it isn’t about finding out *how* or *why* it happened or happens. Never once did I write about my parents, teachers, or kids who bullied me in school, or others I may have encountered along the way.

NO BLAME GIVEN or even implied.

It is about this point going forward…

It’s much more about STARTING than STOPPING.

It’s about finding your COMPASSIONATE VOICE and USING IT.

It’s about forgiving ourselves, yes… and then MOVING FORWARD.

Not looking back.

As the book says in closing, this is a lifelong journey and we never arrive (pg 176). It’s totally worth the time and effort, I think.

A KEEPER, this book! Let me know if you get it. I’d love to hear what you think!


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