By Tessa Woolf
The She & I
When I look in the mirror, I see her reflection. She is always here, and always there. She’s the first woman I see when I wake in the morning, and the last woman I see when I say good night.
She is I. I am she. We are one.
Sometimes she’s happy; other times she’s sad. I love to see her laugh; I hate to see her cry. I try to care for her as best as I can, and she does the same for me. In our own ways, we nurture each other. We bathe in a warm tub, letting the water from the faucet cascade over our toes and the dainty water droplets trickle down our backs. We brush our hair, letting the bristles slowly release the tangles in our locks and the tangles of the day. We sip piping hot cups of tea and read from the pages of great novels. We explore the desert, the mountains, and the stark-white, otherworldly Salt Flats. We tell each other our deepest, most intimate secrets, and share our most magical dreams.
She is I. I am she. We are one.
Yet, sometimes I betray her. I catch a glimpse of her in the mirror, and I quickly look away. I see her shadow following me on a sunny day, and I pick up my steps, trying to outpace her. I awake to see her sleepy eyes and messy hair, and I think, “She looks terrible.” She beckons me to sit, to enjoy a moment of pause during a hectic day, but I dismiss her invitation. “I’m too busy,” I whisper under my breath as I ignore her kind, welcoming smile. Often, I hurry to bed, too tired to take care of her. And then, tucked beneath the sheets, while the world outside is silent and sleeping, the deep sorrow and unshakeable loneliness sink in. Alone I stand; together we fall apart.
Because she is I. I am she. We are one.
2 Steps Towards Greater Self-Compassion
Our relationship with the self is one we all too often overlook. We’ll go to great lengths to please our partner, friend, boss, sister, daughter—but when was the last time you went out of your way to do something nice for yourself? To care for the one person who will always be by your side? When was the last time you practiced self-compassion?
Contrary to what you may have convinced yourself of in this fast-paced, plugged-in, to-do’s driven world we reside in, self compassion is not selfish. Before you list off a series of excuses why you don’t have time to focus on yours truly, consider this: The act of caring for oneself not only boosts your mental and physical wellness and betters your relationship with the self, but it betters your relationships with others, too, and your ability to care for them in return.
Winter is the perfect time to polish up your self-compassion practice. The season is synonymous with cold, dark months, a time when we literally and figuratively turn inward—we spend more time inside our homes, hearts, and heads. And although the winter can be harsh, cruel, and bitter, it’s coupled with moments of joy, warmth, and softness—much like life itself.
Below, I share two steps to start your journey towards healthier self-compassion through positive self-talk, nurturing self-care, and self-grounding rituals.
TALK TO HER
The Act of Positive Self Talk
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” ―C.G. Jung
Words have power. With the words we speak, we can elicit a smile, conjure tears, and even start a war. And the same is true of the words we speak to ourselves.
Listen to your self-speak: Do you speak to yourself kindly or do you criticize yourself? Do you tell yourself you’re beautiful regardless of your bad hair day? Or do you curse you tresses for being frizzy and unruly? Do you tell yourself it’s OK, everyone makes mistakes, when you mess up on a work project? Or do you tell yourself you’re stupid? Do you tell yourself you’re not worthy of love when a romantic relationship ends? Or do you tell yourself a greater love exists?
Find your inner compassionate voice, and give yourself permission to stop negative thoughts. Learn to silence your own inner critic. Acknowledge that you are human—you are not perfect and, yes, you make mistakes—just like the rest of us. You know the saying, “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” The same is true with words: Speak to yourself the way you wish to be spoken to by others. Practice positive self-talk through mantras and daily affirmations. You can find powerful mantras and affirmations online or in books about self-compassion, but you can also create your own personal, meaningful phrase—one that truly speaks to your heart—to repeat every day when you rise.
The Act of Nurturing Self-Care
“Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.” ―Meister Eckhart
Throughout life’s ups and downs, when you find yourself in the thick of an emotional fog, lost in the shadows, or encountering moments of darkness, remember that you are not alone. The self is always by your side—you simply have to reach for her and ask for her to walk with you. There is comfort in knowing we are never truly alone; the self is always there to hold your hand and to comfort you in times of need.
But finding that warm, guiding hand in a sea of sorrow can be difficult. You must learn to channel your compassionate, nurturing self during times of loss and need. The best way to do this is to be present and to truly feel—to sit with your sadness, with your thoughts and your discomfort, and let it wash over you. As scary, painful, and uncomfortable as it may be, and as much as you may want to ignore it, try to welcome the sadness. Take a deep breath and feel it all. Don’t shy away from tears as crying is an act of cleansing. Take comfort in knowing that the self loves you no matter the circumstance. Practicing nightly self-grounding rituals like those outlined in THIS post will also help you become better connected with the self in times of both gratitude and great need.