Pippa Best is the founder of Sea Soul Blessings an eco-friendly mindfulness business where she creates tools inspired by the sea to boost self compassion and inspire positive change. She’s also co-founder of Story of Mum a social enterprise that supports mums to find more rest, joy and fulfilment via coaching, retreats and creative activities. Her newsletters always resonate with me. She’s a special soul who is making a difference to many mothers in this world.
Pippa has also worked as a script editor on feature films and TV projects for over 20 years – in all she does, she loves empowering us to rewrite our stories for the better! Here, she shares her toolkit on finding self compassion in motherhood. It is a joy to share her work on my blog. Thank you Pippa!
Motherhood is both wonderful and all-consuming. Our minds are constantly filled with a list of demands to be met – the emotional and physical needs of our children, partner and friends; the practical household jobs; our duties at work…
It’s an endless list that creates impossible expectations – and so we criticise ourselves for not being good enough, in the hope that this will encourage us to do more, be more, be better. But of course that just makes us feel worse.
Because the truth is – it’s simply not possible to do everything we think we need to do. We can’t be everything to everyone else. And without being there for ourselves, we can’t create the space we need to reflect, make a new plan, and move on. For that, we need self compassion.
Learning to pause and practice self compassion has transformed the way I look after myself in motherhood and in life. It has changed how I talk to myself, and quite literally reprogrammed the neuron pathways of my brain. It’s a positive shift that now influences every aspect of my life.
The more compassion I have for myself, the more I have for my children and others – the calmer and more present I am. The more likely I am to tend to my physical health as well as my mental health.
It hasn’t been an easy journey, and sometimes I still judge myself unfairly – the difference is that now I can spot that I’m trapped in unhelpful patterning, and with effort, I can extricate myself again.
So what is self compassion?
Kristen Neff defines the three elements of self compassion as mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness.
At its simplest, mindfulness is the practice of being present, aware of all we are experiencing and feeling without judgement – a practice that can be life-changing on its own.
Self compassion combines this powerful tool with an awareness of our own humanity in moments of struggle. It reminds us that our struggles are not a ‘failing’ but instead, something we all have in common. When I’m weeping over the washing pile and feeling like the worst mum in the world, it reminds me that this is an experience I’m no doubt sharing with other mothers around the world. It’s just part of being human.
At the same time, self compassion teaches us how to speak more kindly to ourselves. We practice speaking to ourselves with encouragement and compassion, just as we would speak to our children to motivate them forward (on a good day, not when they’ve just discovered us weeping under that washing pile with a bottle of gin…)
It reminds us to care for ourselves just as we care for others. And unexpectedly, for me – that meant finally making time to start sea swimming! Because as it turns out, self compassion can also make us braver. I could try something that I was scared of – because I knew I could hold myself if I failed.
The sea – and trying to do something I wasn’t very good at – offered me lots of opportunities to practice a different way of talking to myself, just like any other challenge we face in life.
Each time I managed to swim a few more strokes away from land, I would practice speaking to myself as I would have spoken to my child from the side of the swimming pool – encouraging them along, celebrating every stroke. While that felt pretty weird at first, it helped. It taught me that I could motivate myself further with kindness than with guilt or criticism.
And each time I got out of the water, I reminded myself to pause and notice what I had achieved, instead of criticising what I hadn’t, or comparing myself to all the other swimmers who were better and more experienced than me.
It wasn’t that I was no longer scared in the water. Instead, self compassion allowed me to soften into that fear, just as I had learnt to soften into the cold of the water. It helped me to understand that all of the difficult emotions we feel, like fear, are simply part of the human experience – not a mark of my own weakness.
How can you bring self compassion into your busy life as a mum?
Inspired by those sea swims, I created Sea Soul Blessings: pocket-sized tools to support a daily self compassion practice, even if you only have two minutes a day.
The simple daily action of drawing a Sea Soul Blessing card helps to shift those negative thought patterns and inspire positive change. By pausing to reflect on the day’s message and connecting to the sea, we’re reminded of our place in the wider world. With the words of each blessing, we experience the power of motivating ourselves with kindness not criticism.
While Sea Soul Blessings are a lovely way to give yourself a daily dose of self compassion, we can stop and offer ourselves that at any time – by simply speaking to ourselves with kindness. We can remind ourselves that we are constantly stretching our capacity and skills – we’re learning on the job. And we’re doing our best with what’s available to us right now.
Self compassion reminds us that we don’t learn without messing up along the way – that’s just part of being human, it doesn’t make us inadequate. It doesn’t make us a failure. We’re not the only one who feels like this. In fact, this feeling connects us to all the other mothers around the world who are struggling, and learning, and failing, and getting up again.
The more we begin to practice self compassion instead of racing to criticise ourselves, the more we are able to see how amazing we truly are. And the more we are able to see that in others. It makes us a more compassionate mother, partner, worker, and human.
And when we’re feeling unappreciated and unseen, self compassion offers us the appreciation and support we crave.
Imagine what incredible things we could achieve if all mothers felt deeply loved, by ourselves, all the time. If we all knew that whatever happened – whatever mistakes we had made that day – we would always have our own back.
Self compassion is a lifelong practice – it isn’t a quick fix, but it can create powerful shifts. You don’t have to jump straight in and start sea swimming. You could simply start by noticing how you are talking to yourself right now.
By reminding yourself that you are not alone in your mistakes or flaws or whatever feels ‘not enough’. By telling yourself how much you appreciate all that you’ve achieved today. And by starting to care for yourself with as much tenderness as you care for your children.
Pippa’s latest box set of mindfulness cards and accompanying book is plastic-free, vegan and fully sustainable.
Excitingly, you can win yourself (or a friend – it’s a lovely gift of encouragement!) one of these box sets worth £21. Along with a signed copy of MUMBOSS (worth £13.99)- Pippa tells me that this book also inspired her forward in her journey to create Sea Soul Blessings – how wonderful is that! Enter below.
Ends Jan 14th 2020.
No cash alternative.
If you do not reply within 7 days of the email notification being sent, a new random winner will be selected.