Self Compassion

As a therapist, I saw many people who evaluated themselves in very negative ways.  Seeking ways to help them re-evaluate their perceptions, take corrective action where needed  and develop “healthier self-esteem” was part of treatment.

              An approach being advocated by Kristin Neff, PhD, emphasizes increasing self-compassion instead of focusing on building self-esteem:  “The self-worth from self-compassion is much more stable over time than the self-worth that comes from self esteem because it’s not a judgment of good or bad.  It’s just being kind to yourself.”    

              In my therapeutic role, I often gave handouts of “My Declaration of Self-Esteem” by the late Virginia Satir.  But I think her document could accurately be titled “My Declaration of Self-Compasssion.”  She wrote:

“In all the world there is no-one else exactly like me.

Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine because I alone chose it.

I own everything about me; my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or to myself – I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes, because I own all of me.

I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me and other aspects that I do not know, but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and for ways to find out more about me.

However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded. I can see, hear, feel, think, say and do – I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.

I own me, and therefore I can engineer me – I am me and I am okay.”  

We are often encouraged in these divisive times to be kind to others.  May we remember as well to offer kindness to ourselves. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus: Perhaps you recall the Saturday Night Live Skit of “Stuart Smalley” played by Al Franken.  Franken published a book in 1992 of Stuart Smalley Daily Affirmations full of the humor of that character, humor being one of those life-giving qualities that can help us stay grounded and kind towards our own humanity.


            August 15 I noticed my calendar was still on July.  For me, perhaps for you as well, there has been a sense of timelessness during this period of Covid 19.  Usually, there have been markers over the course of the year such that even when time seems to be “flying,” I still have a perception of “in February we took a trip to (fill in the blank); “in May we had a big celebration for (fill in the blank); and so on.  When one day is often much like the one before it and the one after it, time seems to lose its meaning.

            Steven R. Covey says that you can spend time on useful things or useless things.  However, if you consider the term “investing” instead of “spending,” he suggests you will invest it in something that has meaning and value for you.  I have wondered how we will look back on this period; will it seem to have been “lost time,” nothing gained, or “valuable time,” well “invested”?

            Given that at this point it appears that we could be restricted from our normal activities for some time to come, this would seem to be an excellent time to take stock. Imagine yourself a year from now.  What would you like to look back on?

            Covey wrote about making a personal mission statement, stating that “Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom and power.”

             Just before New Year’s 2019, I came across a similar idea in a post from inward/outward where the writer suggested making a “roadmap” for the year ahead.  The writer began her roadmap with the words: “To keep my equilibrium, I have to remember the way I have come and who brought me here, which helps keep me grounded.” She then enumerated the things she would rely on to stay grounded and centered.  She concluded with these words: “This is just my road map– always being updated in the moment, as the spirit directs.”

            What will keep you grounded and centered through this period?  What will it take to look back a year from now to say “I grew through this time and I take satisfaction in how I managed this opportunity”?

            Blessings as you continue the “covid journey.”

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

                                                             Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  I share a poem that helped center and ground me:


                                                There are rumblings in my soul.

                                                The earth cracks open:

                                                Lava spills out

                                                Across the landscape of my life,

                                                Warming me/burning me.

                                                There are rumblings in my soul.

                                                The earth cradles me,

                                                Even as it shifts,

                                                Moving me in some direction

                                                I strain to perceive.

                                                There are rumblings in my soul.

                                                The earth propels me:

                                                Whether I stumble or find sure footing,

                                                I am sustained.

                                                There are rumblings in my soul:

                                                Prophets of the earth,

                                                Foretelling change to come,

                                                Change erupting even now,

                                                Gift of the universe.

                                                            —-Kate Stulce

                                                            Written October 2002

                                                            Sante Fe, New Mexico*

                                    * Descriptive of the spiritual journey I have experienced,

                                    which was only beginning to evolve when I wrote this poem.