you can’t have compassion without a compass
Your voice is the one you listen to the most. Is it kind?
Yesterday, I spent four hours driving to and from Heathrow.
There is a long stretch of the M4 currently transforming into a ‘smart motorway’ (I have no idea what this means). For miles and miles, we followed 50mph signs, squashed into slightly skinnier lanes.
A lone white man in a late-model BMW drove next to me for most of the way.
He was Not Happy about the speed restrictions.
At first, I found him tiring.
I have noticed that there is a type of driver, who exhibits a toddlers sense of entitlement behind the wheel. Much like online anonymity can elicit the basest of our nature, I wonder if the open road offers an internal sense of freedom to do and say whatever they want?
Road Troll (as I named him) gripped the steering wheel, yelled at the car in front of him, occasionally threw up his hands in despair.
At some point, he became comical.
At the time I was listening to a podcast interview with Professor Mahzarin Banaji about unconscious bias (highly recommended).
I wondered: how might my assumptions about this man be wrong? What did we have in common?
And these questions immediately turned him from a raging toddler to a frightened boy.
I remembered my own road raging tendencies commuting three hours a day for two years, to an industrial estate just outside of Basingstoke. How trapped I felt, how unfulfilled. How tempted I was to just keep driving; the river of tarmac offering an escape to a seemingly impossible future.
But I never ran away. I just projected my anger and frustration and disappointment onto others.
I wondered about this irate driver. About his heartache and his unmet longings and I immediately felt some compassion for him.
Because I was sharing a few miles of road with his anger. He lives there.
I am often asked: what’s the One Thing I can do to stop self-doubt?
And it’s so deceptively simple: treat yourself with compassion.
Speak to yourself as you would a beloved friend.
And when you forget and you hear your own judgement, criticism, berating: apologise.
And start over.
You can do this endlessly.
On the surface, this might seem simplistic. Even trite. But there is an enormous amount of complexity underneath this deceptively simple act.
To notice that what you are thinking, feeling, saying or doing is causing you pain, you are accessing the wisest part of you.
You are allowing yourself to consider other potential responses. You are beginning to cultivate self-trust, self-acceptance, self-belief and self-worth.
This is how we begin to interrupt archetypal patterns of self-doubt.
I call this part of the psyche, the ‘Sage’. This is one of four internal resources that forms our Compass.
The Sage pays attention to your entire life, accesses your intellect, intuition and instinct and offers new perspectives. We call on the Sage for what to do next.
Importantly, the Sage can address both the critic and the criticised parts of you. Here’s a way to begin a conversation with your Sage.
How to begin speaking to yourself with compassion:
Invite your body to relax, allow your heart to soften and open.
What does your Sage say to the part of you that wants to judge and criticise, what insight does it have?
For example: “You sound very much like your mother” or, “I see that you’re really scared, and you’re trying to help me so I don’t mess up.”
What does your Sage say to the criticised part of yourself?
For example: “It must be incredibly difficult to hear such harsh judgment day after day. I see that you’re really hurting” or “All you want is to be accepted for who you are.”
What words of compassion naturally spring forth?
What is the tone of your voice? Tender, gentle, warm?
What is your body posture like – balanced, centred, relaxed?
It can be an absolute revelation to know that we can sit back from whatever situation might be playing out, and interrupt our often painful self-talk.
When you expand your perspective to make more of you available, there are more choices about how we want to think, feel and behave.
Compassion is a pre-condition for all the other ‘sexier’ qualities we desire: bravery, creativity, a willingness to experiment, a loosening of fear, the ability to bounce-back from disappointment.
You can’t have compassion without a compass!
If you’d like to cultivate a relationship with your Sage and the three other Compass points,
Compass LIVE! begins this Wednesday 13th of March.
Over four weeks, I’ll show you how to access and ACTIVATE your inner-Compass.
You’ll find all the details, including how to enroll, right here!
Hello, I'm Sas Petherick. I'm a self-doubt researcher, coach and podcaster who helps thinking humans transcend self-doubt. If you'd like to receive these posts in your inbox please subscribe here (with bonus info and first notice of opportunities to work with me). PS: I totally ♥ Instagram - join me there?