“Try giving yourself a hug in times of suffering several times of day for a period of at least a week.”
LOL - okay, sure.
After many weeks of listening to my woeful tales of self-disappointment and self-criticism, my angel therapist recommended that I read Dr. Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion. Let’s be honest: I trust my therapist with my life, so I ordered the book immediately from Amazon. But in chapter THREE, Dr. Neff decides to tell me to … hug myself? Nah.
I recoiled. It made me squirm so hard that I almost put the book down for good. I thought I’d never heard of anything so lonely, so silly, so juvenile, so pathetic as a self-hug for comfort.
… Can you already see where this is going?
Let’s fast forward one week. For reasons unimportant to this story, I became very, very upset. I got in the car to drive myself home, but I couldn’t stop crying. Guess what came to mind immediately as a technique to self-soothe… 🤦♀️
Sheepishly, I wrapped myself in a hug. I cried. I said, “This is so hard. I’m so sorry.” I repeated it to myself over and over in a public parking lot.
And if you’re wondering, YES, I looked really cool and really confident at that moment. One of my proudest.
But you know what? I felt deeply comforted. I’d looked my pain right in the eye and survived it. I hadn’t needed anyone else to be there for me. I hadn’t wished for it to be anything it wasn’t. I took care of myself. I calmed down enough to drive.
“Okay - Maybe this works.”
Annnnnd… Since that day, I’m a believer. Like, a big believer. Like, I even designed & taught a yoga class around the power of your own touch to heal you.
I used this technique as recently as a few days ago: Walking through an antique store, I saw an item that reminded me of my late Papaw. Tears filled my eyes. I folded my arms, hands to biceps, and began to gently pat myself. “It is so hard to miss him. It’s hard.”
There is power - deep power - in staring hurt right in the face. There is power in wrapping your arms around that hurt instead of shoving it away in an attempt to feel the way that you think you should. There is power in knowing that you are strong enough to comfort yourself. There is healing in nurturing yourself.
As Dr. Neff says, “there is more to you than the pain you are feeling. You are also the heartfelt response to that pain.”
Today, on Instagram, I shared a one-minute self-hug video. Go somewhere really private (like a public parking lot), check it out & let me know how it feels for you.
I love you. Group self-hug!
p.s. Not trying to tell you how to live your life, but you need this book. Click here for the amazon link.