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Self-Compassion Through Struggles

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Editor’s note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares a prayer and reflection on self-compassion which have brought her peace and healing in times of struggles.

Lately, I’ve been struggling a lot. This isn’t something I usually talk about, and it’s hard to share here. But I want to be honest and authentic, and if I am to achieve that–I’ve been working so hard towards that goal this year–then I have to stop pretending that my struggles don’t exist.

My role here is complicated: throughout a single day, I am called on as an English teacher, the English department director, a missioner, a community member, a friend, and a big sister. I can sometimes feel there are so many  people demanding something of me, complaining that I didn’t measure up, or telling me that they don’t want to do the activity  that I stayed up all night planning in an effort to make class fun.

And after a year of dealing with these kinds of  issues and responsibilities, I am tired. I am burned out. I am struggling.

One thing that I have learned through all this while talking with my spiritual director is that it’s necessary to give yourself compassion. When you are struggling or suffering, instead of blaming, pitying, or worrying yourself into a frenzy—as I am wont to do—try offering yourself some compassion.

To truly do this, I searched online and found a prayer that I now use whenever I am in a tough situation that requires self-compassion. It is:

“This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.”

I really like this small prayer for a variety of reasons. First, it’s short enough that it’s easy to repeat to myself in the moment when I am upset. It helps me to practice mindfulness by becoming aware of what’s happening at the moment and accepting that feeling without judgment or denial.

It also makes clear that this is just a moment of suffering. Sure, what I’m feeling is real, but it too shall pass. It reminds me that I am not the only one who suffers—every human experiences suffering as a part of life.

Finally, this prayer reminds me that I need to be kind to myself first. I’m learning that I cannot really be kind and accepting of others if I am not first kind and accepting towards myself. And actually, practicing self-compassion helps the anger and hurt to lessen quicker than being hard on myself or pretending like nothing is wrong. It speeds up the healing process.

I hope you find this prayer as helpful and nurturing as I do and remember that God is always with us, even through the struggles and hardships that we face.

Reflection Question: What is an area of your own life where you may need to be more compassionate with yourself?

Aubrey has been in Bolivia since January 2016 serving at Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa, a rural college. She works at the children's library and in a daycare for students' babies. She also accompanies students in their daily and after-school activities, such as Pastoral group, English Club, and Mujeres Valientes, a women's empowerment group.

Aubrey’s heart lies in service, the Spanish language, and music – she has been playing the cello for 11 years. While studying economics and Spanish at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Aubrey became a Catholic and discovered her love for service through Newman Center alternative spring break trips to Philadelphia and Staten Island. Her desire to be the hands and feet of Christ among the poor motivated her serve on overseas mission.