Self-love, compassion, and acceptance
October 29, 2020 4:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to learn how to be more loving and kind toward myself. In search of resources less annoying than listicles and less intimidating than massive books (I have piles of books that could probably help me with this and I'm struggling mightily to do any serious reading at all).

* I don't really need more alone time. I have ample time to myself and am deeply lonely.
* I am good at saying no and backing out of things when they are causing me more stress than joy.
* I have gotten much better with handling my self-critical voice
* I think I'm looking for a way to replace the attuned, connected, parental love I missed as a child.
* I'm kind of fragile at the moment - compassion and patience are appreciated.
posted by bunderful to Human Relations (17 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Tara Brach's podcasts have helped me a lot, she's a psychologist with extensive Buddhist meditative training. A lot of her work focuses on compassion and healing your relationship with the self, recognizing your feelings, connecting with your body, and providing the compassion/nurturing to yourself (kind of like the 'inner parent' you want).

I find her voice itself really soothing, I feel like her gentleness and genuine compassionate intentions come through.

It's nice to pop on one of her podcasts as it's kind of passive participation when reading or doing work that feels like an assignment is too much. I like taking a walk and listening, or when I'm cooking breakfast, or sometimes in the depths of negative feelings lying down in bed and listening really help.

Good luck and lots of love to you!
posted by pengwings at 5:09 PM on October 29, 2020 [8 favorites]

I've been using the Calm app for guided meditation and it can really get at this. There is a daily 10-min meditation with different meditation techniques and themes, which I feel like I can do even if I'm overwhelmed because hey, it's only 10 minutes. There are also different topics you can look up. I came here to recommend some excellent meditations by Tara Brach, so small jinx with pengwings. There's a whole section on self care, and a self-forgiveness meditation that is all about being kind and gentle with yourself.

Also the app has sleep stories which are literally someone reading a bedtime story to you. I've been doing these with my kids and they really scratch the itch of being gently cared for.
posted by medusa at 5:23 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Tara Brach has been recommended to me a number of times as well. Easy to find her videos. Explore RAIN .

I have found some good talks on Insight Timer app. There's a lot of chaff to sort through. Meg James is one recent discovery I've found very helpful and whose voice is immensely sincere and soothing.

A therapist I once worked with recommended spending some time breathing while having a hand on the heart, or the stomach.

From what you have written, it sounds like you have already begun on a good path. Goon onya. Keep going. You will find what you seek.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 5:37 PM on October 29, 2020

Also said therapist recommended, in this vein: to imagine talking to, or just spending some time imagining being present with, that young self who did not get the attuned connection. Imagining the kindness and patience and compassion you would show to that young person, to help her or him feel better, safer, more loved. Being there with her or him when they didn't have someone else around to show them those things.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 5:41 PM on October 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Another vote for Tara Brach. She’s become almost like a soothing parental figure to me. Her work is both very simple and so powerful.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 6:43 PM on October 29, 2020

I use sleep hypnosis/guided meditation audio off YouTube a LOT, and many of them feature self affirmation. and Honestly, in addition to completely keeping insomnia under control, I look forward to the positive messaging. I like Jason Stephenson and Michael Healey's channels.
posted by drlith at 6:50 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

There are a number of guided self-compassion meditations out there but I really like this one by Dr. Traci Stein at Health Journeys.

It's not a panacea but I saw a difference in myself after listening every day for a week or so. It includes a section on compassion for yourself as a child.
posted by rpfields at 7:42 PM on October 29, 2020

From what I understand, Kristin Neff is one of the leading researchers in self-compassion. Given whole books aren't really the solution right now (I definitely understand that feeling!), you might poke around her website ( ) where she has some of the basic exercises and meditations available. It's been awhile since I've read the book, but the supportive touch (similar to what armoir from antproof case mentioned of placing your hand over your heart while breathing) surprised me. When I read about it on paper, it felt a bit silly to me, but it's a short practice I find myself returning to often.
posted by verity kindle at 8:01 PM on October 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

This may be completely nonrelevant feedback, but I moved to China for a year and I noticed in collectivist cultures there are very few of the words beginning with "self-" (self-help, self-care, self-improvement) which you find in the English vernacular bopping around in Chinese culture. The underlying assumptions are that people are a network which band together to help each other, care for each other and improve each other (or else just get on each other's nerves -- also a frequent outcome). It's a lot to ask of yourself to be an island of both caring and being cared for at the same time.

I have felt the feeling of being loved most deeply through relationship with others. Other people accepting my least loveable parts made me feel okay when I least felt okay. My overly simple advice would be to think about ways to lean on friends and family or deepen those relationships to feel held in love by others.
posted by mermily at 8:48 PM on October 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Not a resource so much as a technique (though very simple blog overview here), but I've found journaling in a dialogue to be really soothing for what you describe in your post.

Basically, I have a "dialogue" between the hurting/stressed/upset "me" and some very kind, affirming voice. For example, I write something like: "What's wrong, sweetheart? You seem upset. I am upset. I am stressed and I had a terrible day with work. I am so sorry to hear that, darling. What's stressing you the most? (Etc.)"
posted by brambory at 1:51 AM on October 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Seconding the Kristin Neff meditations linked by verity kindle.
posted by penguin pie at 4:43 AM on October 30, 2020

For times when you don't want to absorb educational information, gentle yoga is good for this. Gentle yoga is a way to neutralize the "yoga for toning the body" trend, which works by making you hurt (however minorly) to change a visual aesthetic. Being gentle with the body helps us be more gentle with the mind as well. Doing gentle yoga as a gift of gentleness for the body can help you cultivate more self love and self compassion.
posted by crunchy potato at 6:02 AM on October 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Putting in a second voice in support of the Calm app (although I use the web UI, not the app). I'm fortunate that my health care provider offers free access to it, but I would gladly pay. Tamara Levitt's material on this and other subjects is excellent and inspiring, and her voice delivery is super genuine and earnest. I find the level of guidance she offers in most of her sessions to be just right, too.

Specifically on the matter of compassion towards the self and self-esteem, she offers a series of sessions targeted at working on this area. However it is one of several themes that thread through much of the material and it crops up in sessions themed around gratitude or stress or other things.

I also have access to the Headspace service through my employer which is a similar guided meditation service. Andy Puddicombe really gets it and is an actual monk sharing the benefits of his training. He offers material in this area, but frankly I find his level of guidance too low for my taste. Headspace sessions are more work and less philosophically satisfying for me, although they are still worth trying.

It may seem silly to approach this problem with "there's an app for that" as a potential answer, but Calm has helped me in exactly this area you want to work on. It's a centerpiece of my practice around learning to have compassion for myself. I've spent most of my life going out of my way to avoid listening to voice recordings such as meditations and audiobooks as I struggle a little with auditory processing, and Tamara's material and delivery cuts right through that.

It's like having someone who gives a shit about you in your pocket.
posted by majick at 9:05 AM on October 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Restorative yoga is also great for this.

2nding the Calm app - lots of helpful tools.
posted by Miko at 7:10 PM on October 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Do you have access to any Mister Rogers shows, like Be Yourself - That's the Best? There are probably more on Youtube, and some libraries have some available as well.

Sometimes having Mister Rogers look out of the TV and say "I like you just the way you are. Did you know that?" can be really lovely.
posted by kristi at 1:09 PM on November 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm taking a Kristin Neff workshop on Mindful Self-Compassion. It's great! I def learn better that way than through a book. You can look for more upcoming workshops online. She also has certified trainers throughout the world.
posted by equipoise at 10:40 AM on November 3, 2020

Wanted to second what armoir added in a second comment. My therapist recommended the same thing, when I would find myself reacting angrily (often wrongly and/or excessively): Talk to my little dude like I would have liked to be talked to as a kid. Give yourself the parental love you didn't receive, in an inner 'dialog.'

I didn't know what to say to my little dude, until my therapist told me to imagine that whatever had upset me had instead happened to my kid, who luckily I love very much :) And the cool thing is you kind of only need to remember to do it, in the moment; you don't need to be a great parent or to have valuable insights or anything like that. I didn't have to solve any problem. I just needed to tell myself that it sucked that the thing had happened and upset me this much, and that I was sorry.
posted by troywestfield at 6:26 PM on November 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

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