When I was struck with depression back in 2011, I would often half-joke that I must be destined to be having such a struggle for some larger philosophical reason. There had to be purpose to my despair – the universe wanted me to be on this journey. That, however, didn’t make the pain and suffering go away…At the time nothing could make the pain go away, but I did have the comfort of an incredible super-hero husband, and lots of love from very special family and friends.My strength returned and the distance of time did make me more philosophical about the experience and I began to ponder the idea that I could use my story to help other small business owners in need.

However, I’ve come to realise that I will only ever be able to help others once I begin to help myself. I still had many triggers that reminded me that some of my worries were probably still bubbling just beneath the surface. Yes, I remain a fairly happy, open person, but push my buttons hard enough and there was a very good chance I might just pop. I so desperately want to be able to share my story confidently (I love a captive audience to present to!) and to do so without worry that parts of my story will trigger anxiety, shame or distress within me. I want to love my story as I would a favourite book. To be able to pick it up, read a chapter, revisit a time and experience and then replace it on the shelf when the present demands my attention.

Pushing the stress buttonWhen you drive a car everyday, it’s going to need some regular upkeep. It’s the same with our minds. To embrace life and truly feel every aspect of it (the good and the bad) we have to attend to some regular upkeep. Even though I had left my bout of depression behind, it was time for a tune up. Deep down I knew it was time but I was scared. I was doing so well at coping! I found other ways to deal with my emotions – some joyous habits (connecting with others for example) and some subversive ones (comfort eating for example). These practices got me through relatively happy days. The upkeep was needed when I revisited the painful stuff – the thoughts we all have but don’t always choose to address. This lack of upkeep was stopping me from telling my story well. Stopping me from wanting to grab my book off the shelf for anyone to read at any page. Time for some repairs.

By accident (ha! Really??!?) I found the Mindful Self-Compassion site, and that lead me to a progam they were offering here in Australia. On a whim, months ago, I registered and every week up to the start of the course I was going to cancel my enrolment. Do I really want to touch those feelings? Do I really want to give myself a break? If I feel emotional and upset, will I ever be able to stop? What if I open the flood gates and drown in my sorrows? I’ll look like a fool! In steps my super-hero husband and precious friends and between them they guide me onto the plane. Before I know it I’m sitting in class wearing the bravest face I could muster and bracing for a week of self-realisation, self-compassion and skill development.

Being willing to explore my deepest pain, shame and sadness has been one of the bravest things I have ever done. I survived a week of it and I am a better person for it. John always says that an investment in your own personal growth is the best money ever spent, and that has been true for me. With your permission I want to share some of my key learnings over the next two posts. Perhaps parts of my experience will resonate with you too. Bring on Sunday xx

self-compassion journey