I admit that this is my most shameless click bait title yet. Although Puppies and Sex ranks a close second. That being said, I stand by my 15-minute pledge to receive love.
I believe I’ve discovered a path to the most loving Valentine’s Day yet – no matter your relationship status or relationship state. I happened upon this when I conducted a casual experiment for the month of January. I think I’ve accidentally hit on the best love tool ever. Nope, this isn’t an advertisement for Lelo – it’s all about self-compassion.
Experiment might be an exaggeration for what I did. In January, I read an article that directed me to the practice of self-compassion letter writing. (It’s awful – I can’t find the article – I’ll keep searching and update the blog with the link when I locate it.)
I can’t say exactly what drove me to practicing self-compassion weekly by writing a letter to myself. It’s possible that particular day I was more aware than other days that I’m pretty hard on myself. It’s also possible that I had recently read about the strong positive connection between self-compassion and well-being. Last summer, I read (a lot of) Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion (which includes this self-compassion letter exercise). Maybe it had penetrated my consciousness in such a way that led me to prioritize this activity.
Whatever the case, I did what I now do when I want to start a new habit – I put the activity into my Streaks app. It took me some time to figure out how to create a weekly task, but I prevailed and then sat down to write my first self-compassion letter for January.
I challenged myself to think about an activity or aspect of myself that I feel THE WORST about. Something that causes me shame and that I find myself circling back to numerous times over the course of any day.
Then I wrote a letter to myself, where I imagined that I was someone who loved me and wanted to provide me comfort about my hard feelings.
The whole thing took fifteen minutes.
After I wrote it, I felt warm – like the way I feel after my kids hug me and I take the time to smell their hair and feel the softness of their skin.
Over the course of the week, I found myself feeling more compassionate and loving – both about myself and others. When there was a choice to be generous (to myself or others) or be unkind – I was aware of a growing ease in choosing the kind choice.
I have noticed the impact of my increased compassion on my relationship with my husband in two big ways: 1) I’m not looking to him to validate my weaknesses (or me in general) as much. I don’t need to because I’m feeling compassionate about my weaknesses. I’m not looking for compensation (as often). 2) I’m also not as frustrated with his weaknesses. I’m more likely to see the bigger picture and understand that they’re part of his strengths. I’m also more likely to feel self-compassion for feeling irritated by them, without blaming him for having them.
This opens a lot of space for loving connection. It’s the space that opens up when I realize that I have what I need, giving me the opportunity to consider what I want. It’s the shift from survival to flourishing.
This is what I’m getting for 15 minutes of formal self-compassion practice each week. Way cheaper than Lelo… What could be more effective for feeling love than feeling good about yourself?
I hope these 15 minutes lead everyone to a Valentine’s Day filled with love!
Here’s the link for the self-compassion letter activity.