I heard of self-compassion for the first time
: on getting tired of self-flagellation on my work, introducing a pop-up newsletter, and of course, the 12/24 new drawings for HopeMail.
HopeMail #136 | Twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Fridays, I write and draw what’s on my mind lately about life, deriving insights from the ordinary mundane to the difficult days. This issue is the 12/24 new drawings for HopeMail. Counting down 12 more issues till we complete 24 new drawings in a year in October 2022. Halfway point! I can’t wait. SpongeBob and Patrick are celebrating with me.
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What do you think you are doing?
Look at how good they are.
Why do you even try?
Who are you kidding?
They are laughing at you.
It’s not working.
Just give up.
Look, guys, I’m just so bleah, tired. As much as I’m loving my work, the writing of HopeMail, and the drawings, I have been battling these voices both in the art itself and building a business around it. It gets even louder since I ventured onto the path of becoming a full-time writer and artist.
It’s like I have a few days of good, then, downhill slide, scrapping my knees bloody, all the way down. And then, for some days, I’ll be useless in writing. Or, anything.
Pathetic, I know.
See what I just did there?
As someone whose top three values are joy, love, authenticity—I can’t reconcile this person who’s compassionate to others, but says brutal things like that to herself.
I know I’m not unique in this situation. It’s not uncommon to hear people having those thoughts. “It’s normal,” I rationalised to myself. And so, I’ve been letting it slide. Letting it get in the way of my work. Worse—I’ve undermined its potency in poisoning my joy.
Recently, I heard a podcast conversation where Sandi Hester (an artist) said it took her a long time to learn to manage those unkind voices. She’s now in a position where she’s freer to enjoy and have fun in her art process. I want more of that too. Man, this inner critic is damaging. I want to change.
I only heard of the term self-compassion recently (or maybe, it’s the first time I’m paying attention to it). Has anyone of you heard of it? Happy to hear about your experience if you want to share with the readers.
Of all the plethora of explanations on the web about what is self-compassion, I like this explanation the most:
Self-compassion is the ability to turn understanding, acceptance, and love—inward.
Frankly, some of the self-compassion exercises felt weird to me. Who says these kinds of things to themselves?! And, I don’t relate to some of the situations. However, I did identify a possible exercise for my particular situation—changing critical self-talk.
The exercises for changing critical self-talk (in summary):
Notice when I’m being self-critical. Get to know my inner self-critic.
Make an effort to soften the self-critic voice without judgement or use further harsh words to “scold” the voice.
Reframe it with supportive self-talk.
I find the third one challenging. For it to work, I’d have to imagine I’m talking to and supporting a friend. Well, gonna try it and see how this goes. 💪🏻
I went up to the hills to take long walks in a cooler climate; a respite from the tropical heat. In one of the evenings, a crossover time between dusk and night, the Creator painted the colour of the sky a velvety shade of ash with a tinge of burnt orange. The sky was fronted by the silhouettes of the trees. It was breathtaking!
Later that night, I was fretting about what to write for HopeMail #135; deadline looming, no suitable topic in mind. When I got stressed to the point where I couldn’t think anymore, my heart said: paint. Just paint.
And I did.
12/24 new drawing
I painted this straight without any pencil outline or pen. Dived in straight with watercolours. Of course, the unkind voices tsk-tsk-tsk me: this is an advanced technique, don’t you think? You don’t even have a basic in watercolour painting. What do you think you are doing?
Amidst those blah blah blah, I painted on. I needed to paint and feel the colours moving on the paper. Occasionally, for a long lovely lull, those unkind voices were zipped, and I enjoyed the creation process.
Now. To replicate that experience as a self-compassion exercise, shall we?
*👋🏼 new readers, a bit of background for you. I usually do line drawings with a black fine liner pen. Recently, I’m exploring different styles and mediums, and watercolour is my current curiosity.
📣 I’m doing a pop-up newsletter called The Half Month Project.
What’s a pop-up newsletter?
A seasonal newsletter with a start and end date. Like those pop-up stores.
From April 29 to May 20 2022, I’m sending a weekly, limited-time newsletter called The Half Month Project. The Half Month Project is a 15 days challenge for me to kickstart learning watercolour painting. Yes, I’m doing it! 😱
I want to geek out on the techniques, the results, and the mistakes. I want to document the experience.
And I’d like you to be on this short journey together.
Once a week, I’ll send photos/videos, along with a few lines of words. You can always respond with questions or even by sharing your very own The Half Month Project (nudge, nudge).
Answers to questions you might ask:
HopeMail will be paused. But you’ll still receive my commitment to a new drawing for HopeMail within The Half Month Project newsletter.
All readers of HopeMail will receive The Half Month Project pop-up newsletter. If you don’t want to receive The Half Month Project, just unsubscribe to The Half Month Project newsletter when you receive the first issue. Careful to not accidentally tick the unsubscribe HopeMail newsletter box! Urm, unless you meant to.
The Half Month Project pop-up newsletter will end on May 20, 2022.
HopeMail will resume on June 3, 2022.
The ultimate question
🧐 Why The Half Month Project?
Because I want to set myself up for success.
Because I’m impatient, and have a limited attention span; I chose not to do The 100 Day Project. Even 30 days is too much. A 15 days commitment is a time length I’m more confident in pulling off.
Tadah! Have I invented The Half Month Project? 😆
And here’s the hashtag #thehalfmonthproject
Should you also do The Half Month Project?
Is there something you’ve been wanting to do, but it’s still on your KIV/later/someday wish list?
It could be you want to:
Sketch one thing daily, plank for 30 seconds daily, cook a new dish, read the Bible, learn a new skill…anything at all!
Think about it. We might have a ton of uncompleted 100 Day Project(s). But, 15 days? That sounds like something that’s more bite-sized and starter-friendly, right?
The whole point of The Half Month Project is this:
Set yourself up for success by making it easier to complete.
And imagine the cumulative effect of what a multiple The Half Month Project(s) could achieve. When we see progress and achievements, we tend to be motivated to keep on doing it.
Ok, my pitch to you is done.
That’s all for now, folks. Thanks for reading and being here. Look out for the first issue of The Half Month Project newsletter on April 29, 2022. Take care. Blessed Good Friday and Blessed Easter.
💖 Melinda (this link clicks to my art shop. Beware of falling in love with my art and potential purchases.)
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Totally random, someone said she forbid her kids to watch SpongeBob. “Why?” I asked. “SpongeBob is so stupid,” she answered. Of course, the person who knew how to sing the SpongeBob song kept quiet.
Read this sentence, “Self-compassion is the ability to turn understanding, acceptance, and love—inward” from an article on Good Therapy.
Ooh, I love the sound of those two words: current curiosity.
I wrote this issue “Forgiveness vs reconciliation. A big difference” during the season of Lent in 2021, leading to Good Friday and Easter.
Ah, self-compassion is a journey. I won't tell you how long I've been working on it. It's so tricky and so necessary. I truly think the root of all healing has to start with self-compassion. The more we are able to be truly compassionate with ourselves, the more we are able to show up for others. I highly recommend Kristin Neff's work on this subject. It's a worthwhile path, it's hard, keep going - and for goodness sakes start with being self-compassionate about how hard it is to root out all the places we are unkind to ourselves!
I'm very much looking forward to The Half Month Project. :) Have you seen the work of Ohn Mar Win? She combines watercolours with line drawing, so her style would be right up your alley.
As for the self-compassion, sigh. It's a process, and I don't know if anyone ever achieves it completely. I guess I have good days and bad days, as do most people. What helps me is a quote by John Steinbeck that I've written out and pasted above my desk: "Just set one day's work in front of the last day's work. That's the way it comes out. And that's the only way it does."