It starts with self compassion

Last week I shared a look at my shadow side. I heard from a lot of you that felt like you had some similar experiences. You told me that even though your shadow qualities were different from mine, you could relate to feeling shame around these negative qualities and feeling like you needed to fix them.
Which made me think that I probably need to back up a little bit and explain more about how a shadow works. And backing up even farther because, honestly, nothing about you needs to be fixed. You are uniquely you, flaws and all. 
Accepting your shadow is a process that is quite complicated because it involves so much negative emotion. Before we can even talk about looking at your shadow and identifying it, I want you to have tools in place to support you through the process.
The shadow is made up of all the bits of yourself that feel are not worthy of love and acceptance. These are the parts that you pushed away because as a child you thought they were unlovable. And a child's logic is all about surviving- unloveable means no one will take care of him/her and she/he will die. This is why the shadow is formed in the first place. It's a coping mechanism to make sure we continue to get love and care.

In our childlike brain, hiding the bad means we will survive. The stakes are very high in our brains. In order to even be ready to look at the shadow, we have to be ready to deal with the consequences. And to do that we need self-compassion.
When we look at our darker side we are going to be fighting hard against our self-image that we are a “good” person. Each one of us has an ego (another loaded word, which deserves its own separate blog post) that wants to be seen as “good” and “special”. This is a part of the human experience, and it is not a bad quality to want to be seen as good and special. It is simply human nature.
When we try to face the parts of us that we don’t like within the self, the natural reaction is to be harsh and judgmental. We want to fight against it and disown it. This is where the reaction to “fix” comes into play. We think that if we can fix things then people will love us, and everything will be ok.
Let me say this again. There is nothing to fix. Accept, love, embrace- yes. That’s where the work is. It is not about changing anything about yourself.
But, HOW?
Everyone talks a big game about self-love but what does it actually mean? What it really gets down to is knowing yourself really well so that you know what your needs are and then making sure those are met. When we have our needs met, we can show up with love and compassion (which extends to our self and others).
When I try to identify my needs I think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Do I have ample food, water, shelter, clothing, and enough sleep, which all relate to physical needs. Do I feel safe- which includes physical safety, financial safety, and health and well-being? Do I feel like I belong to a friend group, my family and intimate relationships? 
And then the biggie. Do I have self-esteem? Am I taking care of our needs for self-worth? Am I acknowledging my gifts and what I bring to the world?
Oof. This is heavy stuff. It’s really deep for a blog.  Stick with me.
Think about it like you are treating yourself like your own best friend. Your best friend wants you to be happy. So they want to make sure you have what you need. If you’re sick, they bring you soup. If you’re having a crappy day, they listen and tell you it’s going to be ok. They tell you that you’re awesome and they love you and support you no matter what.
When was the last time you did this for yourself? Do you tell yourself “you got this” when you hit a bump in the road of life? Do you brush yourself off, pick up and keep going when you fail? Do you tell yourself “Damn, you look good today!” when looking in the mirror?
When we extend kindness to ourselves in the way that our best friend would, we are building our esteem as well as our sense of belonging. Because you belong to yourself first before you belong anyplace else. This is compassion for the self. This is the journey: to accept the good and the bad. And it takes practice, it doesn’t happen over night. It’s so much easier to do it for another person than to do it for the self, but this is
So before I get deeper into recognizing your shadow, I want to ask you- do you think you have worth? Do you see it? Do you feel like you are enough?
This week, I encourage you to look at your self talk. Do you beat yourself up for making mistakes? Do you expect perfectionism and get angry when you fail? How do you handle failures? Or have you learned to be your own best friend as say “That’s ok, it will get better. I’m here for you.”
Hit reply to this email and let me know your big takeaway from today’s post. How are you doing with your self compassion? Where can you be your own best friend?