How Traveling Solo Taught Me the Most About Self-Compassion

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Two years ago I joined a mindfulness program that encouraged me to meditate every single morning, engage in morning exercise, and incorporate mantras into my day - all this with the intention to enhance my own sense of self-compassion. Wherein I have read books on the topic and even developed my own personal exercises for them,  I realized that nothing could enhance my own self-compassion more than going out into the world all by myself. I always believed that learning happened best through actual experience. While we can sit down and do self-compassion exercises, going on solo flight to a place completely unknown taught me a few things about what it meant to be compassionate. 

We are responsible for everything that happens to us

The internet doesn't say it enough - everything that happens to us is an effect of our contributions to that situation. There is nothing that happens that we are not responsible for. While I have always argued against this on circumstances that I felt were in fact "out of my control", traveling alone showed me just how possible it could be to see how I contributed to many different things such as (but not limited to): 

1. Making the most of the hours in a day. If i woke up late (10/11am), this meant that I had less time to see all tourist attractions that usually closed at 6pm. 

2. Knowing when to rest and how to rest. 

3. Allowing strangers to offer their help to me. 

4. Remembering to provide basic needs to my body.

 

We are never in full control of anything

When I traveled to Taipei in early April, I wasted a good 3 hours looking for something that I never really found in the end. By the 3rd hour and the 5th or 6th attempt, I wanted to burst into tears, let out my anger on someone, and scream. It was frustrating to be in a country where they could hardly speak the English language plus I couldn't seem to find what I was looking for. The train system could get a little confusing as well - especially when the announcements on the platforms were not reliable and google maps was giving me the wrong information. It was messy and there were so many factors I could not control. Learning this early into the trip helped me re-align with a few factors in self-compassion such as kindness and a common humanity. 

I looked around me and found other travelers getting lost, probably losing time, and reminded myself that it would all work out eventually. Whatever happened in that situation would be entirely up to me. I could kick and scream or I could breathe in and give it another shot. So I gave it another shot. 

 

Self-talk is so important

Whenever I would find myself going in the wrong direction, I would notice myself whisper a few things under my breath like "ay, bobo" (how stupid), or a frustrated "ano ba yan?!" (what are you??). I noticed that I was quick on my self-talk, but I needed to also learn how to respond to those statements with other things like "all will be well", "thank you, i love you, self", and "just a few more steps, body, and I promise we'll have rest soon".  There was no one else who was going to motivate or tell me that it would work out fine, so I immediately had to become that person for myself. 

 

What do you tend to notice about yourself when you are on your own? Do you recognize your self-talk? What about the way in which you contribute to your reality? And how do you let go? Self-compassion and mindfulness, it appears, can really happen anywhere. Whether we're sitting on a pillow, stuck in traffic, or making our way to a foreign country by ourselves, I am learning that there are moments of self-compassion that we can take advantage of everywhere.