Finding Self-Compassion During Coronavirus

Hi. It feels like it has been a long time since I was last here. Thinking. Writing. Deleting and re-writing. The last thing I shared was a Beauty Pie review, which makes me smile a little because makeup and skincare feel so ridiculously trivial at this moment and yet, they’re one of the few things that have remained a constant for me over the past week as much of my life (and yours too, I would guess) has changed rather dramatically. It occurred to me that what we need right now is not self-inflicted guilt, judgement, and a promise to ‘do better’. As we navigate Coronavirus, what we need to find for ourselves is self-compassion.

But it’s weird being in the middle of a pandemic…

It’s incredibly serious — most of us around the world are confined to our houses — and yet, there’s a part of me that wants to burst out laughing at the surreality of it all. I know it’s inappropriate — it feels wrong to acknowledge openly. Maybe I’m just uncomfortable. A little anxious. Likely, that impulse is just my body’s way of trying to release some of the pressure that builds with every news alert, every press conference, every new border closed, every inkling and second guess and nagging sensation that maybe I should be going home.

I haven’t posted on social media or even sat down to write because I didn’t want whatever I would find I had to say to sound contrived. Forced. Insensitive. Panic stricken. I didn’t want to add to the noise or, worse, say the wrong thing. What’s more, I have seen the creativity and hope and kindness emanating from all corners of the internet and have felt wildly unable to find the energy to think, let alone the words to write, to have any chance of contributing positively to those efforts.

For all of the therapy I have done in the past year, I am still working to untangle the thought patterns that trigger negative self-talk and relentless comparison… Everywhere I look I see so many people doing it better. Doing it right… The rational, compassionate part of my brain is slow to counter, but it grows in its courage by the day:

Taking a step back, is neither wrong nor right. It simply is. It doesn’t make me lazy. It doesn’t imply weakness or ignorance. If I feel drained, it’s not because I’m lacking in discipline and commitment. The feeling of emptiness, the need to be quiet — there are real and rational reasons why those feelings are valid and I do not need to look to what everyone else is doing to determine my worth or measure my value in this moment.

It occurred to me that this is the reason I needed to write. Because I know I am not alone in these feelings right now, because writing them down and sharing them is an opportunity for connection, an opportunity to empathise, an opportunity to remind someone else that the weight they feel isn’t carried by them alone. I understand. I feel it too.

The way we exist in this new reality will look different from one person to the next. I know that right now, for me, the best thing I can offer myself, body, mind and soul, is grace and space. The freedom to feel it all or feel a little numb. The freedom to consume content or tune the world out. The option to move my body or skip the workout and rest. Permission to eat the leafy salad AND the comfort food or go straight for the chocolate. Permission to engage and be vulnerable or protect and turn inward. That is what self-compassion during Coronavirus looks like for me.

Because there isn’t a right answer here. And it is our right as human beings to go through the messy and complicated process of figuring it out without shame and fear of judgement. With the space to fail and the unmitigated belief that we do not have to do this perfectly. But it begins with self — an internal, transparent and honest dialogue about the standards we hold ourselves to and the guilt and hate we inflict on ourselves when we all too frequently fall short. It begins with forgiveness and it requires what we all need in regular abundance as Coronavirus runs its course: self-compassion.

As we navigate the ramifications and side effects of social distancing, isolation and the anxiety of not knowing, I hope that we make a collective effort to root our actions and words in empathy, beginning with how we speak to and treat ourselves in the coming days. Laughter, tears, skincare, wine — it’s all on the table right now, judgement free.

And when it all feels too much — when the uncertainty of tomorrow overwhelms rational thinking and breaches emotional levies — trust there remains one constant and unrelenting truth: this too shall pass.