What’s left when self-esteem is gone? When your faith in your competence is shattered, and your accomplishments have become few, far between, and small?

For me, not much. At least not right now. But hopefully soon: self-compassion.

A “throwback” Facebook status of mine came across my feed today. It was me on this day in 2009, sophomore year of high school, lamenting the fact that my 95% on the physics final exam actually brought my overall grade down. Reading this status gave me a sense of sadness, a nostalgia for a time when I never had to worry if I was good enough. Now that worry is in the driver’s seat.

My therapist lent me the book “The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion” by Chris Germer and it’s quite a read. I already put it into some good use today. An email from my advisor made me cry (not her fault). I was in a room with people in it. I struggled not to cry for a while, my eyes burning, my throat closing, trying to hide my sniffles from the others. But Germer talks a lot in his book about how pain x resistance = suffering. Suffering is increased when we try to resist pain rather than feel it. So instead, I told myself, “You are feeling bad, so you are crying. That’s fine.”

As soon as I accepted what I was feeling and allowed myself to feel it, and compassionately gave myself the space to cry….I actually stopped crying. I felt better. I just started reading this book yesterday and it’s already changing the way I approach my life.

I keep having to remind myself that I am still learning. I am still young. Someone once told me “nothing is fatal but death.” We like to think our lives are over when things go disastrously wrong. But when we understand that our lives are not over, that’s when we can carry on.

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