When You Feel Like You're Failing, Stop For Compassion

"Compassion for myself is not a thing I do." (image credit: Mariah Aro Sharp @mightymooseart)

BBA 2.0, Let's Get Woo, takes the last 18 months of life changes/new experiences/self-care and adds a layer of, well, WOO.


We now interrupt your regularly scheduled Ayurveda column with abject failure. 

Kind of. 

Damnit if I don’t sometimes feel like I’m failing at literally everything I touch. I’m being figuratively buried alive by email — and literally by my laundry. I burned my husband’s birthday cake because it needed “two more minutes” and apparently I cannot remember anything for two minutes. My kids probably need therapy, and it’s probably my fault. 

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Hi, Carrie here. I just want to interject and say yes. I feel this way often, too. And my four-year-old son has been in therapy for basically his whole life, so I FEEL YOU. Also, I am writing this to you under a pile of clean laundry that I’ve been shuffling around the couch for two weeks.

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Now there is this foray in Ayurveda, which it seems like is another opportunity to fail, and subsequently emotionally abuse myself. I tried to do a wheat elimination and failed at that so miserably that I can barely call it an attempt.

Embarrassed at my lack of drive, commitment, whatever, I talked to Carrie. I love Carrie, and I’ve known her outside this column for a few years now. Failing the people you know and love feels so much worse than just failing the general public. 

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Hi. It’s me, again. I think the only thing modern women lack is support. We have high expectations of ourselves and often assume the bulk of the emotional, domestic, and mental labor in families. Joni is no different. And if you know this badass of a woman, you know that Joni possesses drive and commitment in spades.

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When I called Carrie, her response was very Carrie-like; she told me this was an experiment, not a “fail” or “succeed” program. We talked for a while about it, and the thing she told me that I continue to repeat to myself daily is this: it really IS about the process. It’s not about setting and reaching a goal. It’s learning about yourself, sitting with what you learn, and moving through the process with compassion for yourself and your body. 

Compassion for myself is not a thing I do. 

It is not a thing I have ever done. It is not a thing I feel comfortable doing, even after talking to Carrie like she is my therapist, every day. 

Joni has her own real-life therapist, btw. But we are walking farther down this path, and as with any exploration, it is inevitable that we bump into our most vulnerable places. This is a vulnerable place for Joni and continues to be a vulnerable place for me, too. Self-compassion is a practice for most of us, which means we require, well, practice at mastering this. 

Compassion is hard for me. The irony here is that compassion for others is a cornerstone of my personal philosophy. But when it comes to myself, that philosophy goes right out the window. 

Isn’t that an odd part of our emotional make-up?

The love we extend to others is the same love we deserve, and yet we won’t grant it to ourselves. 

We will move heaven and earth for our kids. 

We will forgive the people that hurt us. 

We will watch the water flow under the metaphorical bridge. 

We will be a leaning post for our friends. 

We will be everything for everyone. But when it comes to ourselves, we just can’t seem to show up on any kind of regular basis.

 

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This. This is the practice of self-compassion. This is the moment where you believe everything you say you believe because it shows up in how you treat yourself. 

So this week, we pause. We pause because I need a moment to process these feelings of failure and to allow myself to live in a space without expectation. We stop for compassion. I step back to observe non-judgmentally, to see myself as I would see any other human being — flawed and struggling, and wonderful, too. 

Darling friend. Your flaws do not define you. Your perceived failures are learning experiences.

I step back, too, to honor you and remind you that you are deserving of the same love and compassion you’d show to any other person. 

And so are you. Amen. 

Stay tuned for next week when we dive into how to handle triggers like food, failure, and the inner monologue that keeps us from finding sustainable ways to grow. 


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