An Extra Dose of Compassion

“I mean, when you’re like on your sixth year of a novel, it’s real easy—and you’ve taught a student in a workshop and they’ll write a novel in six months—it’s not unimaginable that you’ll blame yourself. A friend of mine said something that was helpful for me and pushed me through this. Every time you write a new book, even if it’s your first book, the hard part isn’t writing it. The hard part is becoming that person you have to become to finish the book. And usually what you need to finish a book is not more talent or more workshops or more criticism. Usually what you need to finish your book is an extra dose of compassion, not just simply to connect to your characters—that helps. But usually the compassion that you need to connect to your characters is first modeled whether you’re compassionate to yourself.”

Junot Diaz

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Remind Yourself

“Remind yourself, in whatever way is personally meaningful, that it is not in your best interest to reinforce thoughts and feelings of unworthiness. Even if you’ve already taken the bait and feel the familiar pull of self-denigration, marshal your intelligence, courage, and humor in order to turn the tide. Ask yourself: Do I want to strengthen what I’m feeling now? Do I want to cut myself off from my basic goodness? Remind yourself that your fundamental nature is unconditionally open and free.”

-Pema Chodron

Perfectly Imperfect

“Not being perfect allows us to feel empathy and compassion, not just for ourselves but also, and especially, for others. We see our own frailties and shortcomings in our friends and lovers. Being imperfect joins us in humanity….Better to taste this gritty, imperfect life we have than to defer it to some more perfect future that will never come.”

-Roger Housden

Compassionate Action

“Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live. This place, if you can touch it, will help you train yourself throughout your life to open further to whatever you feel, to open further rather than shut down more.”

Pema Chödrön