Be compassionate with yourself
Create room for resilience to reduce stress
By Louisa Stringer, Certified Caregiving Consultant™ with Cape Wellness Collaborative
This is the final column of a 3-part series on understanding stress and developing resilience. Part 1 dealt with acceptance; part 2 with knowing our own strengths. Part 3 addresses the compassion we need to feel for ourselves at the end of this exceptional year, which further serves as a gift to us in our ongoing discovery of resilience.
Stress and anxiety can easily be some of the biggest enemies in our ability to love and appreciate the person we are. On the contrary, how we handle our pain, suffering, tension and worry can also serve a purpose by improving our resilience. By exploring the role of compassion for ourselves, we find there is space for empathy and concern toward the legitimate pain, tension and worry we feel. Compassion for ourselves can be seen as a building block for our individual resilience.
Caring for yourself lets you better care for others
More often than not we are told, and shown, what it feels like to have compassion for others. By offering concern and sympathy for another we are showing we care. How often do we offer the same for ourselves?
Compassion has the ability to tug at the same heartstrings as love. Musical artist John Lennon is quoted as saying, “We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others.” It is an endless struggle with family caregivers (and everyone really) to come to terms with understanding they cannot give what they do not have. If you do not have the love and compassion to care for yourself, you cannot give the same to another. Some have even heard it said that “you cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Resilience – the byproduct of self-compassion
So much of what makes us human is our ability to feel emotions. There are a lot of ups and downs in this world and individually in our own lives. We are provided daily opportunities to find compassion for ourselves, as well as others. Resilience is a byproduct and the gift you are given when you build this compassion for yourself. Look back on your 2020 with compassion. Love yourself through all those memories it provided and look forward with resilience to all which lies ahead.
Louisa Stringer, CCC™ is a practitioner and advocate trained in mental health first aid. She offers caregiver support and outreach with Cape Wellness Collaborative, a local non-profit organization which provides free integrative wellness therapies for anyone in the Cape community facing cancer.