It’s a long Sunday.

What I mean by that is it’s a day where you cancelled everything in order to slow down and pay attention. Breathe. Feel.

And in that, it’s like you can feel the stretch of the day, marking the time moving.

Maybe I’ve actually slowed down enough to match the rotation of the earth?

Writing this blog has been at the top of my weekend ‘to-do’ for weeks. It nudged me again and again, and I kept pushing it aside, waiting for I don’t know what. A better idea. Time. Inspiration.

Welp. I’ve got one of the three today, and I still put it off as long as I could.

So. Here we go.


At some point over the last few months I started casually referencing my research on self-compassion and actor training.

As in:

“What do I do in grad school? Oh yeah, I’m researching the role of self-compassion in actor training…”

“My research is primarily looking at self-compassion and resilience in actor training…”

“My work focuses on self-compassion for actors…”

There was something sort of grand about owning this thing I’m passionate about by giving it the title of “research” or “work” or “focus”.

And it’s not untrue — I did write my pedagogy paper last term on the difference between self-compassion and self-esteem and the lack of the former in actor training. I’m engaging in self-compassion practices on a daily basis. And I’m starting to put together a self-compassion workshop.

But as I’m trying on this hat of ‘researcher’, or, god forbid, ‘academic,’ I do giggle sometimes at the image that this phrasing evokes: Me, toiling away for hours at my desk, reading everything there is to read about compassion, writing fancy essays, tying in different theorists, blah blah blah.

I do other things. I make candles at home. I wrestle with our cat, Bean. I meet friends at the pub. I’m reading bell hooks and Queer Theory and looking into RPGs and actor training…but that’s for a future blog.

There’s something funny that has happened, though, in the wake of me owning this passion for self-compassion.

There’s an expectation that seems to have formed.

It feels something like:

Oh, self-compassion is your whole thing! So you must be like, really good at practicing self-compassion all the time.

A few times, this has resulted in members of my cohort coming to me to ask about self-compassion. Which I love. We exchange ideas, I share a bit of what I know, we both grow. Brilliant.

But I also get called out for not being self-compassionate, or when someone perceives that I’m not being self-compassionate.

“Uh-oh! Caitlin, you’re not being very (wink) compassionate towards yourself, are you?”

“Maybe you should be kinder to yourself, eh? (wink) (wink)”

With my kindest most, well, compassionate lenses on, I think the intention behind this is to help me notice when I’m not being very kind to myself. And that intention is great, it really is.


The impact of this kind of statement does not result in me feeling kinder towards myself.

It does the opposite.

Pointing out that I am not living up to your expectations about what self-compassion looks like makes me feel like I am not qualified to be researching this subject.

I don’t belong.

So Shame arises.

I’m not doing this right. I’m failing. I’m not good enough.

And now I’m triggered right back into a Perfectionist cycle,

And I feel like I need to perform self-compassion for you to prove that I’m worthy.


Here’s the thing that I’ve learned through these experiences:

my self-compassion practice won’t look like yours
and it is always in motion.

Sometimes, my self-compassion practice is saying the unkind thing about myself, and then noticing afterwards that I said an unkind thing about myself.

Sometimes, my self-compassion practice looks like frustration and anger, because I’m learning to allow myself to feel these feelings.

Sometimes, my self-compassion practice is half-hearted statements about how I’m doing the best I can, and that’s enough, and I don’t fully believe the things I’m saying yet but just saying them is part of the practice.

This is why calling me out when I seem to be uncompassionate is not necessarily helpful — I might be on the verge of calling myself out, and it needs to be me that catches these moments, not you.

self-compassion is not a perfect, achieved state of being.
it is a practice.

And by its very definition, that means I am definitely, absolutely, 100% going to fail at it.

If you are learning to dribble a basketball but you still lose control of the ball sometimes, we don’t say you’re only successfully practicing when you’re able to maintain control of the ball. The practice includes all of it.

There’s a reason that this is the thing I’m passionate about researching.

Not because I’m excellent at self-compassion.

But because I’m terrible at it.

And I want to learn.

I want to engage with that two-steps-forward, one-step-back process.


Thanks for listening, reading, breathing with me.

Find kindness for yourself today, whatever that looks like for you at this point in your practice.

With love,