what we're reading now
follow us on facebook
follow us on twitter
subscribe to our blog
find it

What We're Reading Now

Self-Compassion When Stuff Gets Complicated

6 December 2022

Allison searched through Dr. Kristin Neff’s web site to find an easier way to practice self-compassion.  

Tags: allison read, self-compassion

At Allison Partners we help people with the messy, complicated, wonderful people stuff. Recently, I’ve been thinking about that phrase when it comes to helping my Mama take care of my Daddy who has Parkinson’s Disease. They moved back to Charlottesville in May with help from my friends. We had a wonderful summer before Daddy had some serious health events in September and started to need 24/7 caregivers in their new home to help him with everything.

Mama does a lot of the caregiving herself but sometimes I think the biggest job she has is training and supervising the 15+ people who come in and out of the house. Complicated barely begins to describe how things feel each week as she waits to see if every shift will be filled and if each caregiver will be able to come. (Illness and the holidays make this a particularly difficult time of year, but Commonwise continues to do everything they can to make sure we have the support Daddy needs. We are so grateful to them.)

Mama and I are both relieved we can do this together in Charlottesville, but we’re also exhausted and struggling to keep finding the self-compassion we need for how frustrated we get with ourselves, Daddy, and sometimes even each other about any number of things both big and small. We’ve written about self-compassion on our blog. A lot. As I was searching through past posts for insights tonight, I found one that Mama wrote in 2018 about Dr. Kristin Neff, “a pioneer in the study of self-compassion, being the first one to operationally define and measure the construct almost twenty years ago.” The main takeaway from Mama’s post is that it’s important to stop being so hard on ourselves for being so hard on ourselves. That sounds like really smart advice, and I know I should work on my self-talk soon, but it’s a little more than I can accomplish at the moment.

Instead, I found myself searching through Neff’s site for something simpler. She shares a variety of useful exercises but many of them made me feel tired just reading them or even made me want to roll my eyes which is always a sign I’ve crossed over into cynicism which is one of my least favorite places to be. I’m trusting I’ll find a better attitude about my self-talk sometime soon. In the meantime, I think I can handle this: Exercise 4: Supportive Touch. Neff briefly explains the parasympathetic nervous system and why we need to activate it. Then, she lists several ways to do the exercise. I’m in the mood for something subtle these days, so I will try cupping my hand in the other one in my lap rather than putting my hand on my heart, or cradling my face, or rubbing my arm.

  1. When you notice you’re under stress, take 2-3 deep, satisfying breaths.
  2. Cup one hand in the other in your lap. Feel the touch of one hand in the other.
  3. Feel the natural rising and falling of your chest as you breathe in and as you breathe out.
  4. Linger with the feeling for as long as you like.

Neff says I need to try this during difficult periods several times a day for a period of at least a week. I’ll report back in the comment section below next Tuesday.


Our Comment Policy:

Our blog posts are only half of the conversation. What our readers have to say is equally important to us, and we're grateful for all the comments that continue the dialog.

To ensure that the discussion here is as useful as possible to all of our readers, please be respectful of our contributors and refrain from harassing, threatening and/or vulgar language. We reserve the right to screen and remove any comments from the site. If you have a question about a comment or want to discuss our policy, please contact us. We'll talk it over.

Robin Leigh Hicks
Dec 07, 2022

You are spot on. Like your Mom I was blessed to have help. Yet, it was amazing and so unexpected how even with all the help one could want care giving is exhausting down to the core of your soul.
I remember those days of handling my parents care givers…it was just like running a little company…something I never aspired to. They were invaluable. We wouldn’t have survived without them and yet we all suffered in the process…even the caregivers.


Leave a comment



Notify me of follow-up comments?

Enter the characters you see below:

« Return to What We're Reading Now