Showing compassion to ourselves

I was at a meeting the other day where I had to bring Bridget with me. It wasn’t a professional meeting. It was a PTA meeting, a group of parents (and teachers) most of whom had their own children attending.

It was horrible and my own fault. Bridget had been scheduled to see her favorite therapist for her favorite therapy: hydrotherapy (pool). It was cancelled due to the weather, instead of taking her home I tried to fit in this meeting. Usually Abby meets us, but she was at a school government commitment. That added to no pool equals meltdown.

I should have left. I should not have stayed, disrupting the meeting and putting her temper on display. Of course everyone was patient and kind. It was my own anxiety that added to Bridget’s behavior. It was probably more embarrassing in my mind than disruptive in theirs. I am sure they thought it was “typical kid behavior”.

And it was typical Bridget behavior. Typical (if exaggerated) for her developmental age. But it was not typical for her actual age. It was behavior I never would have accepted in Abby. It was behavior that would have been punished, that would not have been accepted. Even at the developmental age.

I should have left. But I didn’t and I regret it. Small for her age, Bridget typically passes for her developmental age. No one had a problem with how she was acting.

I did.

I was embarrassed. I was hurt once again by seeing how other children behaved and how I could not do anything to change Bridget’s behavior. Except by leaving.

But I didn’t.

Instead I judged my own child and found her lacking. It’s not the first time this has happened and probably won’t be the last. How can I ask others to accept Bridget for Bridget if I am unwilling to do so?

It is more that though. All parents get frustrated and once in a while. We all have moments when we do not like our children. Their behavior feeds ours and our behavior feeds theirs. As much as we love them, sometimes they are not really likable. At any age toddler through teen through their 40’s. I know my mom loves me but she isn’t always happy with me!

When do I begin giving myself a break? To show compassion to what I am feeling and to feel okay about failing (more than) once in a while.

How can I truly be compassionate to others but not forgive myself?

I don’t have the answer…but I am trying

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25 thoughts on “Showing compassion to ourselves

  1. Kit Dunsmore

    How brave you are to admit this! One of the challenges of acceptance is recognizing when we are not accepting things as they truly are. I struggle with this all the time. The only thing harder than accepting others for who they are is accepting my own limitations. I am so hard on myself. How right you are to point out we must start with ourselves. Good luck on your path!

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  2. ontyrepassages

    You recognize, you’re aware. That counts for more than you’re allowing yourself because you’re a parent and THAT’S typical parent behavior. It’s okay. You’ve already learned from this. Self-compassion is difficult for most (believe me, I know), but most difficult for parents. After reading this I have more faith in you than ever before.

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  3. Dana

    I don’t have the answer either, but I’m glad you keep trying. I’d tell you to not be so hard on yourself, but I never listen when anyone tells me that. It has to come from you. Keep trying.

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  4. lrconsiderer

    I think what other people have said about not giving up – about continuing to try – that’s all I can echo. I’m crap at self-compassion. It’s absolutely one of my worst things.

    Just remember – your response to the whole scenario was completely explainable. You can use this set of responses and the domino effect it had, to inform your choices in future, and that’s the best anyone can ask.

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    1. firebailey Post author

      I balance (negatively, I admit) that am I excusing my behavior or explaining it? I despise being a martyr or one who looks like she is not being held accountable. URGH life is supposed to get easier, right?

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  5. flemily

    Oh I’ve been there so many times…self-compassion is so so hard. I don’t give myself a break either, always questioning my own parenting. I think it’s especially hard when you have a child with special needs because sometimes we are even harder on ourselves, when really it should be the reverse. I’m glad you’re aware that you need to work on this, because it in turn makes ME aware that I need to work on this too…our kids may be 40 when it happens, but eventually we’ll find our self-compassion.

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  6. Yvonne

    This is a brave post! And you are doing great. That you are noticing the need for self-compassion, even after first judging yourself and Bridget, is compassionate. Baby steps as they say. I’ve read that between 70 – 80% of our thoughts are negative, so if we even reduce that to 50%, what a difference it makes.
    And if you want to speed things up, I recommend “Self Compassion” by Kristin Neff. She has made studying self-compassion her life’s work and has over a decade of experience. She also has a child with special needs, so she understands. (I wrote a review of her book on my Inquiring Parent blog.)

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    1. firebailey Post author

      Thank you, Yvonne. I seriously hope that figure (70%) isn’t true but if it is my goal is to make that number reduce and quickly. I will check out that book for sure!

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  7. TheMomCafe.com

    Oh Kerri! I get this in so many ways!! I have had those same feelings about similar experiences I put my own kids through and regretted my decisions…

    This is definitely where we need the most grace… we need to POUR it on ourselves!! We are doing the best we can.. and we will have those thoughts and make some decisions that weren’t the smartest… we will regret things and we will be angry at ourselves… but we MUST let it go.

    I always find that my own feelings are the very things that bring me and my children down farthest. The actual behavior or thoughts or decisions weren’t as bad as my response and the aftermath of me spiraling down in depression or guilt about it all. Does that makes sense? I swear my own drama is what my greatest burden of all. Sigh.

    EVERY mom goes through this. I’m working on letting go of the guilt, the discouragement and giving myself more grace. How about you do that too, right?

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    1. firebailey Post author

      That makes perfect sense. I knew at the time that my emotion was feeding hers but could not break that cycle. I am trying to work on it, expose us to more situations rather than isolating her. It is something we have always done, been OUT there with Bridget. It usually works but then….

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  8. Kristi Campbell - findingninee

    Oh friend. Yes. You. all of it. I cannot stand it when I feel embarrassed by a behavior and then I cannot stand it that I felt that way and am sure that if I’d just handled it differently myself… sigh. Self compassion. It’s so hard. Why is it so much easier to feel empathy for other people than it is for ourselves? Love.

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  9. Sandy Ramsey

    I believe that just the fact that you can write this here and recognize it, well that is more than half the battle. Most of us are much quicker to give others a break but will beat ourselves up endlessly. I do it all the time and drive myself nuts dwelling on it. I hope you find a way to give yourself a break. It’s gonna be okay.

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    1. firebailey Post author

      I think it is a struggle, for everyone. Even those who seem uber confident. But to have a goal in mind, to find be willing to keep finding ways to quiet that voice. That is where the battle will be won.

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  10. thelatchkeymom

    I don’t have an answer for you, but I can tell you that you’re not alone. Barrett has embarrassed me so many times, that now I’m numb to it. Perhaps that’s the answer? Barrett is much older than Bridget, so perhaps time and experience will allow you to be more forgiving and compassionate of yourself! I guess maybe I did have an answer? I don’ t know…

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    1. firebailey Post author

      Being numb will help for sure! I don’t think that is what it is with you though…more like you KNOW that these moments don’t matter in the long run. I hope I get there sooner rather than later!

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