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Self Compassion and Plastic Flowers

by bevbarnes on September 9, 2011

Are you constantly pushing yourself in every aspect of your life to be better, stronger and faster?  Are you considered a high achiever; well educated with challenging and time consuming work as well as children?  Are you exhausted?  Most of my clients fit into this category.

I know this group well, because I was one of them.

At one point in my life, not only was I starting a business, finishing a Masters degree and adjusting to a major move, I was also trying to get to the bottom of my son’s difficulties in school.

One day, I drove five hours to see a specialist in Brain Gym so I could help my son develop learning strategies.  She sat down with me and said something that changed the way I saw myself.  With compassion and softness she looked at me and said “You try so hard.”  I was taken aback and tears came to my eyes.

Nobody had ever said that to me.  I sure hadn’t said it to myself.

I had always thought that I didn’t try enough, that I had to work harder, that I was fundamentally lazy.  I was raised believing that I had to work hard if I wanted to succeed.  I never thought that I was working enough!  No one had ever reflected back to me how much effort I was making, how hard I was trying and how exhausting it was.

It was a light bulb moment for me.  A virtual stranger shone a light on my blind spot.  She showed me compassion that I didn’t even realize I needed and the minute I felt it, it brought me to tears.  I realized that I had compassion for others but not for myself.

To live the lives we were born to live we absolutely need to develop compassion towards our selves.

Kristen D. Neff talks about self-compassion on her web-site at  She suggests that to show yourself compassion, you do the same thing for yourself that you would do for someone else.  Here’s how:

1.  Notice that you are suffering. 

That is the hard part. I believed that I had to try harder to get better results.  But I was trying as hard as I could.  What I was really thinking was ‘Nothing I do is good enough.”  And because of that thought, I was suffering.

2.   Feel moved by that suffering.  Feel the emotions. 

Once I acknowledged what was going on – and in my case it took a stranger to tell me – I felt my emotions.  I was moved because I could see myself through someone else’s eyes.

3.  Offer yourself understanding and kindness rather than judging yourself harshly. 

It is so easy to be kind to others.  Just include yourself in that group and start being kind to yourself.  Recognize as Brené Brown says, that imperfection is part of the shared human experience.  Honour and accept your humanness.

4.  Ask yourself – What is the most loving thing that I can do for myself at this moment?  Then do it!

I’ve found that playing and resting are two ways to be compassionate to myself.  I decided to start to play more and I found the Mattel Fun-Flower kit on eBay and ordered it.  (It is pictured above!)  It was my favourite toy from my youth.  I made some colourful plastic flowers and bugs.  I laughed about how dangerous the toy was and finally figured out why it was taken off the market.

For me, playing and resting is showing myself compassion and kindness.

One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself is self-compassion.

Why not start?




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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Janelle September 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Okay, so I had to get a Kleenex after I read this. Thanks so much for reminding us all to notice when we’re trying. And I love that Mattel kit. Brilliant!


Bev Barnes September 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm

I love my Mattel kit too. I have a little trouble getting Plastigoop, the stuff you make the flowers with but it’s lots of fun.

I’m glad it helped Janelle. Now go and rest!


Layla October 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm

This is great Bev! I really like the opening. Are you a high achiever? Yes! Are you constantly pushing yourself? Why yes I am! Then I got to the part ‘are you exhausted?’ and I was like YES! How did you know? Could there be some relationship? LOL.

Great blog post, i’m going to use and enjoy!


Bev Barnes October 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I’m glad you could relate Layla. Happy playing and resting!


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