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  • Nisah Razad

How I Met Self-Compassion


There was something in my last post that has prompted me to share the story of how I met self-compassion. When I first discovered the ability to give myself the space to grieve without judgement, I learnt that it was not a selfish act, but an act of self-love. It has given me the permission time and time again, to hold space for myself in the process of letting go of past conditioning, old wounds, trauma and during times of self-confrontation.


I have experienced self-compassion to be the future me giving the past me a big long hug that I had always needed. The kind of hug you get from a loving parent or a loving friend who deeply cares for you. A hug that can only be felt as a sensation, which seems to lift you gently in the air as it surrounds yourself and fills itself into every nook and cranny of your being.


Self-compassion is the part of you that takes care of your self and gives you the choice to be kind and respectful to your needs. It is the boundaries that we create to protect our space and energy, so that we have enough of it to continue to be kind to ourselves and the people around us. It can come forth in the form of whispered wisdom through intuition, guiding you through your choices.


The Prompt

In the previous post I had mentioned that while I was practicing loving-kindness meditation, my immediate reaction was that I felt selfish because I was only directing words of kindness to myself. I discovered why it is that I felt that way and the possibilities are endless because as we grow, we continually build our understanding on life from our beliefs that we perceive to be true.


For almost all of my life I believed that grieving for myself was a selfish act. I compared my pain to the suffering of others, and somehow, I used that as a form of consolation that theirs were greater than mine. Or I thought the pain I experienced worthless to that of others. I believed it a form of self-pity that was conducive to destructive behaviour. In hindsight, I see it all as great protective mechanisms.


If I had fallen into the unknown sea of sadness and grief, perhaps I might’ve lost a part of my youth dedicated to the joy of irresponsibility. So really, I am quite pleased that I am finally releasing the energy of old wounds during my middle ages so that my young self had the time of her life.


The Story

So how did I meet my compassionate self? It all started from the tenth anniversary of my twenty second birthday. What happened during that birthday was so tragic that it left a part of me broken and I still experience that grief to this day, quite possibly intermingled with any pain awaiting its turn for freedom.


I had organised a big birthday bash at the beach on the eve of my birthday and had invited everyone I knew. From the police reports there were over a hundred interviewees. I must add that this event was situated in a very rural and isolated community so everybody knew each others business and were well acquainted.


The local chef had baked me a cake and after the birthday song we realised that no one had thought to bring a knife. Except for my work mate who supplied us his knife to cut the cake and was the same knife involved in the events to follow. Now at some point in the night, fuelled with alcohol and mischief, a few of the younger boys played a prank on another boy who had proudly built his tent despite his motor disabilities.


I was urged to investigate an eery wail coming from the same boy sitting atop his dismantled tent in distress. The play of mischief had gone too far. The following events stemmed from the seeking of justice, the play of testosterone and ego, the loyalty of brotherhood and the survival and protection of self.


The result was the loss of a dear childhood friend whom I know only served to protect his brothers in defence. And the loss of my work friend to the bars of prison and whom I know served to seek justice from unfair play.


The state of shock experienced from all that were involved was somewhat of a consolation for me. It allowed me to ignore the pain which was replaced with confusion and numbness. I grieved for the loss of both of my friends and for their families but I could not bring myself to grieve for myself.


I believe birthdays to be special days and events worth celebrating. And perhaps I thought it too selfish to think about losing a birthday or that the following birthdays after that would be an annual reminder of loss. Perhaps there was a tinge of guilt that I was responsible and if I hadn’t organised a party filled with so many different types of people perhaps this wouldn’t have happened.


For the years after that I continued to grieve for the loss of their lives and I continued to ignore a part of myself that was lost. It wasn’t until the tenth anniversary, the year I touted as ‘the year to heal’ came the progression of events that led to discovering self-compassion.


An intention is the planning of doing something. Thus, intention setting is a powerful tool in attaining your goals.


When I had set the coming new year to be the year to heal myself, I didn’t realise it would go so far as digging to the deep dark trenches I had ignored by planting a bed of pretty flowers atop it. I mean, who wants to sit around all day in uncontrollable fits of the guttural release that is sorrow? The sorrow of being ignored by my very own self. The sorrow that hides behind the slit of tension in my chest, where painful feelings are imprisoned and touted as “mine”.



Building The Strength

Deep down my inner knowing was wise enough in using the different methods to cope with difficulty. Our bodies are exceptional pieces of intelligent work we entrust with our survival. Yet, survival is not the same as grabbing life by the testicles and owning it. It takes a sense of discipline, resilience and emotional maturity to build the strength necessary to sit and hold space for difficulty and unfamiliarity.


So there I was, in the centre of my room, clutching at the heart centre where all the pain resided, finding its’ way out through the throat in the form of sound, and squeezing its’ way out through tear ducts. There I was, a mother to my inner child, allowing her to be sad that things didn’t turn out the way she expected, that it wasn’t a nice way to spend her birthday and assuring her that none of it was her fault.


It was then that my twenty two year old self, a child she was, was finally seen and understood, and that no judgement was bestowed upon her. She was free to feel, just like a child is free to feel. And what do children do when you sit with them though their difficult feelings? They run off and play again, like nothing ever happened.


It was a moment of transformation that urged me to reflect deeper into all manner of life. My parenting changed from that point onwards. I no longer believe in ‘tough love’. As much as it triggers my anxiety, I have practiced in allowing my children to feel sad without undermining or comparing their pain to others. And I have been doing the same with myself ever since.


Being compassionate is a practice. Our present day selves are the product of lifelong conditioning from our own beliefs and societal constructs. Being gentle in the unveiling of our truths can allow for profound realisations that can transform your world. Self-compassion begins with treating and talking to yourself, just the way you would with someone or something you deeply love and care for.


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