Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Self-compassion and cockroaches

Cockroaches and Self-Compassion

My husband and I cherish our vegan household. We don’t eat animal products, we don’t buy leather shoes, we don’t spread poison to kill bugs.

As a result, we have our occasional cockroach visitor.

Since we don’t want to kill or harm them, we try to catch them and transition them to the compost pile in the backyard, hoping that’s nirvana to them.

It’s not easy. Cockroaches are fast, and have a magic ability to disappear between cracks I didn’t even know existed.

So when we spot them, we have to stealthily get a glass bowl from the drawer, put it over them, shove a piece of firm paper underneath the bowl, and run carefully to the compost pile.

My success rate is around 60%.

I am pleased with that, until a friend tells me it’s not difficult at all: you just pick them up and throw them outside.

Well, I don’t know which countries he has visited. Maybe Tibetan cockroaches have more equanimity and are happy to be picked up, but our Texan friends are fast, really fast.

Irritated at hearing his claim, I prove my point by acting out my catching strategy on the living room floor.


Exaggerating the speed in my demonstration, I land badly on my thumb. I can hear it pop. It’s extremely painful. I feel the blood drain from my head and I can barely get up. Still feeling the original irritation, I pretend as if nothing happened, waving him goodbye.

When he’s gone, I hear a roar of critical thoughts swell in my head: “You stupid idiot, you are unable to regulate your irritation! You made a fool of yourself by being caught up in your own self-righteousness! You deserve a sprained thumb!”

It takes a few hours, before these elements of self-compassion surface:

  1. Awareness. Just noticing my pain and suffering around these critical thoughts and my thumb. “Ouch, that hurts, that really hurts.” We cannot foster self-compassion, if we don’t acknowledge we’re suffering.
  2. Befriending myself, being on my own side. Just wanting myself to feel better, caring about my needs. Something like “I wished I didn’t suffer.”
  3. Shared humanity. I start thinking of all the other people who hurt themselves while trying to impress others. I breathe in their pain, heaviness, and suffering. I breathe out love, light, and relief to them. “May all beings be happy, peaceful, and light in body and spirit.” Myself included.

Working with these elements of self-compassion, I feel better. I see myself for who I truly am: an ordinary human being, whose behavior is sometimes a tragic expression of unmet needs. I don’t need to judge myself for that. I need to reaffirm that I am still unconditionally worthy of love, acceptance, and belonging.

How could these elements of self-compassion help you to accept your mistakes and learn from them?

Let me know. I would love to read from you.

Mourning and regret

Image courtesy to fotomedia

Image courtesy to fotomedia

I didn’t call my friend as promised. Last week I canceled our phone call too. I feel bad about it. How do I feel when I think I’m bad? Hum… I close my eyes and listen to my body. Your physical sensations offer wonderful opportunities to connect to what’s really going on for you.

I feel tired, sad, and scared. Tired, because I have so many projects going on and I want more rest and spaciousness in my schedule. Sad, because I really want to honor my commitments. I want more integrity: to make conscious commitments that are in alignment with my physical sensations, my feelings and thoughts, my needs and values. Scared, because I’m afraid that I’ll be judged as untrustworthy, unreliable, dishonest, and maybe even not good enough. Ouch… I resonate with that fear. I want understanding and acceptance that I have too much going on to keep track of everything and I want to be seen for the sincerity with which I reached out for my friend to make an appointment.

Gosh… I made a choice that didn’t include all needs. Let me just sit with that for a little bit… Let me just mourn that and move away from self-blame and self-judgment… Maybe I can connect deeper to the needs I was trying to meet by not calling… Rest and spaciousness… Yeah… I so much wish for more rest and spaciousness, less running around from appointment to appointment. And maybe I can connect to the needs that were not met by my choice of not calling… Integrity, understanding, acceptance, and to be seen for my intentions…

Such beautiful needs… So human and universal… I wished I had chosen a strategy that would support all of them… Ah… Let me just sit with that… I want to support all needs…

Yes! I’m gonna send her an email in which I express my regret for not honoring our agreement and in which I share honestly what I can offer with my limited time availability… Which commitment am I joyfully willing and sincerely able to make?… How can I offer support and include my needs for rest and spaciousness? Maybe less than I wished I could. And maybe this new offer can include all needs. Different than I originally thought, and more honest and true.

Happy Easter.


You want help to mourn some of your choices? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary, discovery session to see if and how I can help.